Religion, Politics and World Events They make great dinner conversation, don't you think? plus Political Film

The role of faith in Presidential politics

Old 12-31-07, 12:00 PM
  #1  
DVD Talk Legend
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 14,204
The role of faith in Presidential politics

Much has been made in the 2008 GOP presidential primary race about the role of faith for each candidate. Romney made his famous Faith in America address ("Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom"), while Huckabee has been attributing his rise in the polls to the personal intercession of Jesus ("I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ"). McCain famously vacilated between hobnobbing with the evangelicals and shunning them; Giuliani credits God for inspiring him to write a best-selling book on leadership.

Of course, in order to win the Republican nomination, you have to at least pay lip service to the evangelical vote, but I wonder just how sincere some of these candidates are. Obviously Huckabee is much closer to being a true evangelical than any President we've had in office in recent memory. (Reagan, although he was the champion of the Religious Right, rarely went to church, much like Bush today.) The question is whether or not this is a good thing.

Do we want a President who believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible? Or one who believes that aid to Israel is the key to bringing about the end of days? Are we comfortable with the idea of a President who might try to directly violate the Establishment Clause? Where do we draw the line?

(Important note -- I am not suggesting that a President Huckabee or Romney or Giuliani would do any of these things. I am just speaking in hypotheticals, trying to get a sense for just how far the forum would go.)
NCMojo is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 12:05 PM
  #2  
Admin-Thanos
 
VinVega's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Caught between the moon and NYC
Posts: 31,523
I'm interested in a candidate's secular policies. I don't give a rat's ass about his/her religion, as long as the religion is not the driving force behind the secular governmental decisions that leader has to make.
VinVega is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 12:34 PM
  #3  
DVD Talk God
 
kvrdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 86,201
As much as I don't care for Romney, his points are probablly most in line with my own, and no one has anything to fear from a Christian President (in the same way that I believe, anyway). Chistianity did not become a force by force. It has always been about freedom to choose based on the idea that we all have the right to free will and to make decisions based on that.

However, I don't believe I have ever seen a candidate mention God more than Joe Lieberman. And Clinton talked about it more than Bush ever has. Why are you not concerned about the Democrats, who seem more likely to win this year, and their religious beliefs?
kvrdave is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 12:54 PM
  #4  
DVD Talk Legend
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 14,204
Originally Posted by kvrdave
As much as I don't care for Romney, his points are probablly most in line with my own, and no one has anything to fear from a Christian President (in the same way that I believe, anyway). Chistianity did not become a force by force. It has always been about freedom to choose based on the idea that we all have the right to free will and to make decisions based on that.

However, I don't believe I have ever seen a candidate mention God more than Joe Lieberman. And Clinton talked about it more than Bush ever has. Why are you not concerned about the Democrats, who seem more likely to win this year, and their religious beliefs?
Because in the same way that the Republicans have to appear religious in order to appease their conservative base, the Democrats have to seem secular, in order to appease their progressive base. And although, ironically, Clinton and Carter were both much more "faithful" Christians (the term is used somewhat ironically for Clinton), there has been far more eroding of the Establishment Clause by the Reagan and Bush camps, especially since 2000.

There is a hard-core group of Christian zealots who fervently want to make over America as a true "Christian" nation through political activism. I fear, dislike and distrust these people; I think that religion should be kept entirely away from government -- and, even more importantly, vice versa. These people are almost entirely in-line with the Republican Party. I do not think there is a true "evangelical" Democrat in the upper reaches of government today (although I could be mistaken).

By the way, I'm intrigued by your statement that "Christianity did not become a force by force". I'm not sure that the history of the Roman Catholic Church jibes with this idea at all; similarly, I don't think any of the Protestant offshoots that helped found this country were all that considerate of the Native Americans already living here. Certainly the Spaniards practiced a great deal of "conversion by force" during their colonization. I'm not saying that Christianity is a bad thing, or that it is a religion of war or violence -- far from it. But claiming that it has always been a religion of free choice and free will is probably a bit far from the truth.
NCMojo is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 01:21 PM
  #5  
DVD Talk God
 
kvrdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 86,201
Originally Posted by NCMojo
Because in the same way that the Republicans have to appear religious in order to appease their conservative base, the Democrats have to seem secular, in order to appease their progressive base. And although, ironically, Clinton and Carter were both much more "faithful" Christians (the term is used somewhat ironically for Clinton), there has been far more eroding of the Establishment Clause by the Reagan and Bush camps, especially since 2000.
Can you actually back that up? The eroding part, anyway? Clinton had faith based initiatives as well. Quite a few. It looks to me like these things only get press when a Republican does them. I sure don't see any eroding, but I'm sure you have examples.

By the way, I'm intrigued by your statement that "Christianity did not become a force by force". I'm not sure that the history of the Roman Catholic Church jibes with this idea at all; similarly, I don't think any of the Protestant offshoots that helped found this country were all that considerate of the Native Americans already living here. Certainly the Spaniards practiced a great deal of "conversion by force" during their colonization. I'm not saying that Christianity is a bad thing, or that it is a religion of war or violence -- far from it. But claiming that it has always been a religion of free choice and free will is probably a bit far from the truth.
That's akin to talking about America's involvement in wars and starting with Vietnam. Christianity had no power until Constantine converted around 312. Prior to that time you still had huge growth even though Christians were persecuted whereever they were. They had zero power. The early writings of Justin Martyr show that. Christianity flourished for over 200 years while having no power and being persucuted constantly. The main reason was that it was an exclusive religion. If you were a follower of the Roman gods, you could do that and still worship the emperor. If you followed Mythras, you could do that and still worship the emperor. That was good for the governments in power. But in Christianity, you had an exclusive religion that said you couldn't worship anyone but God. That was why they were persecuted.

Compare that with the beginings of Islam for a religion that started out based on violence.

So my point isn't that Christianity has no history of using force, but that the early church did not. Men seeking power go to where the power is.
kvrdave is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 01:55 PM
  #6  
DVD Talk God
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 68,522
Originally Posted by VinVega
I'm interested in a candidate's secular policies. I don't give a rat's ass about his/her religion, as long as the religion is not the driving force behind the secular governmental decisions that leader has to make.
Then who are you supporting the Republican primary?

Seriously - what Democrat do you believe best represents your idea of what secular policies should be pursued?

NCMjo,

I agree there has been an erosion of the EC under Bush. Of course I believe the erosion has occurred in the opposite direction of what you believe it has occurred.

As kvrdave pointed out - Clinton had faith based initiatives. Clinton made certain that photographers were there when he exited the Church he frequently attended.
classicman2 is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 02:49 PM
  #7  
DVD Talk God
 
kvrdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 86,201
Originally Posted by classicman2
I agree there has been an erosion of the EC under Bush. Of course I believe the erosion has occurred in the opposite direction of what you believe it has occurred.
I agree with this. Has there ever been as much hypersensitivity to religion and government as there is today? Christmas trees taken out of government buildings, government employees told not to have a cross on their desk, the Christmas tree taken out of the airport in Seattle (though that was done not because of government action, but to avoid it), the lawsuits over "under God" in the pledge, etc. Has there ever been a time when the US was more unfriendly to religion? I can't think of a time, so what eroding is going on? If any eroding is occuring, it is the freedom to practice and not the government establishing a religion.

But, because this is very interesting, tell me how the opposite is true, mojo.
kvrdave is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 03:51 PM
  #8  
DVD Talk Legend
 
sracer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Prescott Valley, AZ
Posts: 12,859
To me it doesn't matter what the professed religious beliefs of the candidates are. Because the way our political system is structured, they couldn't conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their beliefs.
sracer is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 03:57 PM
  #9  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 25,062
Originally Posted by kvrdave
I agree with this. Has there ever been as much hypersensitivity to religion and government as there is today? Christmas trees taken out of government buildings, government employees told not to have a cross on their desk, the Christmas tree taken out of the airport in Seattle (though that was done not because of government action, but to avoid it), the lawsuits over "under God" in the pledge, etc. Has there ever been a time when the US was more unfriendly to religion? I can't think of a time, so what eroding is going on? If any eroding is occuring, it is the freedom to practice and not the government establishing a religion.
How does having Christmas trees removed from government buildings or "under god" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance impinge on freedom of practice? Are you trying to suggest that schools and courthouses are places of worship?
Tracer Bullet is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 04:02 PM
  #10  
DVD Talk God
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 68,522
The discussion was about the EC - not the free practice of religion.

They are different.
classicman2 is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 05:07 PM
  #11  
DVD Talk God
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Directionally Challenged (for DirecTV)
Posts: 122,845
Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
How does having Christmas trees removed from government buildings or "under god" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance impinge on freedom of practice? Are you trying to suggest that schools and courthouses are places of worship?

Yep. This is a common misconception - the confusion over the freedom of religion clause and the EC. Frankly, I think it is intentional (not necessarily by kvrdave) - to try to mix the 2 to demonstrate a hostility toward religion (by, as O'Reilly would put it, secularists declaring war on religion) in general.

Last edited by Red Dog; 12-31-07 at 05:09 PM.
Red Dog is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 05:21 PM
  #12  
DVD Talk Hero
 
JasonF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 39,466
I'll make the same response I make every time there's one of these threads.

Oh, boo hoo. It's so hard to be a Christian in 21st Century America. Wah! Wah!
JasonF is online now  
Old 12-31-07, 05:25 PM
  #13  
Banned
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Bellefontaine, Ohio
Posts: 5,628
Anybody know how Ron Paul feels about religion? I like everything else I know about him except for the abortion issue (I am a big big fan of Abortion personally, Mr. Paul is not) and was curious as to if/how he is involved in any religion.
I don't know if I would feel good about voting for anyone who believes in God in any way since I am an atheist so I was just curious....
chris_sc77 is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 05:38 PM
  #14  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Th0r S1mpson's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 36,443
I don't know how I'd feel about voting for someone who was a "big big fan of abortion" either.

But really... as long as the candidate respects the separation of church and state properly, I have no problem with a commander in chief that holds different religious beliefs than the majority of the populace.

Last edited by Th0r S1mpson; 12-31-07 at 05:40 PM.
Th0r S1mpson is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 06:39 PM
  #15  
DVD Talk God
 
kvrdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 86,201
Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
How does having Christmas trees removed from government buildings or "under god" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance impinge on freedom of practice? Are you trying to suggest that schools and courthouses are places of worship?

Sorry for the confusion, because I did mix the two together. My examples of the Christmas tree and pledge had to do with refuting the idea that religion is creeping more and more into government, and the cross in the cubicle was about the other.

Obviously I know that freedom to practice is an individual thing. But I don't think one can convincingly argue that the Establishment Clause is being eroded as religious symbols are used less by government entities today than at any time in the past. Do you disagree with that?

I would love to hear any argument for the erosion of the Establishment Clause that actually shows actual erosion compared to the same issue in the past.
kvrdave is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 06:41 PM
  #16  
DVD Talk God
 
kvrdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 86,201
Originally Posted by JasonF
I'll make the same response I make every time there's one of these threads.

Oh, boo hoo. It's so hard to be a Christian in 21st Century America. Wah! Wah!

I don't see anyone making that claim. But I suppose it was an opportunity if you have been waiting of your same response.
kvrdave is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 06:53 PM
  #17  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 25,062
Originally Posted by kvrdave
Obviously I know that freedom to practice is an individual thing. But I don't think one can convincingly argue that the Establishment Clause is being eroded as religious symbols are used less by government entities today than at any time in the past. Do you disagree with that?
I would not disagree with that. However, I think that the further elimination of various religious symbols from government buildings strengthens both the EC and the freedom to practice.

The Jesus hoop that presidential candidates have to jump through is a separate issue, in my opinion.
Tracer Bullet is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 07:25 PM
  #18  
DVD Talk God
 
kvrdave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 86,201
I don't even care about removing religious symbols. Doesn't impact my belief at all. But I dislike when we go so crazy with it that we don't recognize that many things that we think are religious have become secular and cultural.

I don't think the elimination of a Christmas Tree strengthens the EC, for example. I think it gives anti-religious zealots an opportunity to act like huge asses, just like the religious zealots.
kvrdave is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 07:31 PM
  #19  
DVD Talk Legend
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 14,204
Originally Posted by kvrdave
Sorry for the confusion, because I did mix the two together. My examples of the Christmas tree and pledge had to do with refuting the idea that religion is creeping more and more into government, and the cross in the cubicle was about the other.

Obviously I know that freedom to practice is an individual thing. But I don't think one can convincingly argue that the Establishment Clause is being eroded as religious symbols are used less by government entities today than at any time in the past. Do you disagree with that?

I would love to hear any argument for the erosion of the Establishment Clause that actually shows actual erosion compared to the same issue in the past.
You know, I'll retract any comments I've made about the Bush Administration eroding the Establishment Clause. Bush essentially paid lip service to evangelical concerns, especially on social issues -- while he might have originally intended to greatly expand the role of religion in government, I think some of the stronger neocon influences may have pushed him away from that. In the end, I don't think we're any closer to a state religion than we were under Bush Sr. or Clinton. (I was thinking of David Kuo’s book when I was reading your responses.)

But it is true that there is a core group of legislators out there that are much more interested in truly making this a "Christian" nation once again. And I think they are much closer to their goal, although I think that Brownback represented a much better choice for them than Huckabee or Romney.
NCMojo is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 07:45 PM
  #20  
DVD Talk God
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Directionally Challenged (for DirecTV)
Posts: 122,845
Originally Posted by kvrdave
I don't see anyone making that claim. But I suppose it was an opportunity if you have been waiting of your same response.
I think it was more of a response to a certain O'Reilly and his great fear (to drum up ratings) of those evil secularists.
Red Dog is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 10:12 PM
  #21  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Pleasantville - in black & white ;P
Posts: 5,970
Originally Posted by chris_sc77
Anybody know how Ron Paul feels about religion? I like everything else I know about him except for the abortion issue (I am a big big fan of Abortion personally, Mr. Paul is not) and was curious as to if/how he is involved in any religion.
I don't know if I would feel good about voting for anyone who believes in God in any way since I am an atheist so I was just curious....
Paul is a Christian and is personally Pro-Life. He favors a states rights, smaller federal govt approach on most items.

If you are truly pro-choice I really believe this is the best stance. If the power is in the hands of the federal govt the "right" can just as easily be taken away as they were established (the SC).

jmho...

Would you rather have zero abortions, or at least some states allowing them?

Imagine in a decade or two, a Republican supermajority in Congress and a Republican President. Are you still comfortable with the federal govt having the power (this goes for many issues other than abortion).


As for Mojo's OP: I would not vote for Huckabee, Giuliani, or Romney.
mosquitobite is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 11:17 PM
  #22  
DVD Talk Hero
 
JasonF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 39,466
Originally Posted by kvrdave
I don't see anyone making that claim. But I suppose it was an opportunity if you have been waiting of your same response.
Silly me. I thought when you said there's never been a time when the U.S. has been more intolerant toward Christians you were, you know, complaining about it being hard to be a Christian in the U.S. these days.

So is your position that it's harder than ever to be a Christian in the U.S. ... but still not particularly hard? If so, I stand by my original statement that Christians should stop their whining and be thankful they live in a time and place where they can openly acknowledge their love of Christ in so many ways.
JasonF is online now  
Old 12-31-07, 11:40 PM
  #23  
DVD Talk God
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Directionally Challenged (for DirecTV)
Posts: 122,845
What is an 'erosion of the establishment clause.' Can I presume that when one says that, they also agree that there has been an erosion of the commerce clause (and a more egregious one at that)?

Now if one wants to say that there has been an erosion in the practice of religion by government entities, then say that. Don't try to cloak it as something else.

Last edited by Red Dog; 12-31-07 at 11:45 PM.
Red Dog is offline  
Old 12-31-07, 11:45 PM
  #24  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Pleasantville - in black & white ;P
Posts: 5,970
Originally Posted by Red Dog
What is an 'erosion of the establishment clause.' Can I presume that when one says that, they also agree that there has been an erosion of the commerce clause (and a more egregious one at that)?
mosquitobite is offline  
Old 01-01-08, 01:12 AM
  #25  
DVD Talk God
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 68,522
Can a child pray aloud in a public school classroom?
classicman2 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.