• The nomination of Sarah Palin brings to the forefront a debate that has been on-going in U.S. politics since the very beginning of our nationhood–the debate about religious freedom and the separation of church and state. We have a tricky situation to negotiate here: how can we, as a country, uphold our commitment to each individual’s religious freedom (e.g. NOT attacking Palin for being an evangelical fundamentalist) while at the same time recognizing the problematic ways in which her religious convictions shape her political actions? On principle, I should support her right to attend whatever church she chooses, but I absolutely cannot affirm her activism against women’s abortion rights, her attempt to ban Rev. Bless’s book about gay rights, or her desire to have creationism taught in public schools! No doubt every politician who professes some kind of religious faith must struggle to find a balance between her/his religious convictions and her/his duty to keep religion separate from politics. But this appears to be a flagrant exploitation of the religious convictions of millions of U.S. voters. Can we, in good conscience, vote for or against someone because of that candidate’s religion? I think not, but we can closely examine that person’s words and actions regarding the issues that are important to us as voters.

  • Asinus Gravis

    Is pushing to have creationism taught (along side, or without, evolution) in publicly funded schools a religious issue? It looks straight forward political to me, and uninformed to boot.
    Is trying to stop the legal right of pregnant women to choose to have an abortion and to have that choice honored by medical doctors and hospitals a religious issue? It is a purely political issue, and an uninformed one an that.
    Is taking action to keep books that openly discuss the difficulties facing gay people out of the reach of citizens of one’s city a religious issue? It is an issue of political action, and an unjustified one at that.
    I do think it is relevant to consider the religious beliefs of candidates for elective office. It can tell one a lot about: how credulous they are; how informed they are; how competent they are at critical thinking; how sensitive they are to the needs of “the least of these;” etc. Such matters are at least as relevant as how old, or how experienced, or how charismatic, or how they look.
    I’m not asking for a Constitutional amendment to impose a requirement that in order to be elected one has to belong to a particular religious body (or cannot belong to another religious body).
    It is part of my religious freedom to see your religious beliefs as one factor that is relevant to qualifying or disqualifying you for getting my vote for elective office.