All the American presidential candidates have been asked about their religion. In Iowa former Baptist pastor, Mike Huckabee, has overtaken former Mormon missionary, Mitt Romney. Romney thought his religion was so critical that he gave a speech about it last week. He said his Mormon faith would inform his life but not interfere with his policies. Whatever that means.
What is the relationship between religion and electoral politics? Michael Kinsley is a well-known and widely respected editor and television personality now writing for Time magazine.
Recently Kinsley wrote a highly provocative piece in which he argued, at least implicitly, that no person of sincere religious faith can be trusted to serve in public office, and certainly not in the presidency of the United States. Kinsey writes:
“The Roman Catholic Church holds that abortion is the deliberate killing of a human being. Catholic liberal politicians have said they personally accept the doctrine of their church but nevertheless believe in a woman’s right to choose. This is silly. There is no right to choose murder. Either these Catholic politicians are lying to their church, or they are lying to us.”
It might be noted here the Catholic Church also teaches that artificial contraception is a mortal sin. How would that bear on a Catholic politician’s view of certain social issues? Kinsey goes on:
“These days presidential candidates are required to wear their religion on their sleeve. God is a personal adviser and inspiration to all of them. They pray relentlessly. Or so they say. If that’s not true I want to know it. And if it’s true I want to know more about it. I want to know what God is telling them — just as I want to know what Karl Rove was telling them if they claimed him for an adviser. If religion is central to their lives and moral systems, then it cannot be the candidates’ ‘own private affair’. To evaluate them, we need to know in some detail the doctrines of their faith and the extent to which they accept these doctrines.
For example, any candidate who believes in the literal truth of the Old Testament, the New Testament. the Book of Mormon or the novels of Jane Austen, is probably too credulous to be president.”
Are you concerned that an elected official’s sincere religious beliefs could affect his public policy?
Are you concerned that an elected official’s sincere religious beliefs might not affect his public policy?
Would you agree that on an issue like abortion, a Catholic candidate for office is lying either to his Church or to the electorate?