The issue of separation of Church and State has come up again after the Obama Administration stepped in a big pile of you-know-what recently. Religion has also become part of the 2012 Republican race for the presidential nomination.
Many a political pundit has said religion shouldn’t play a part in politics and vice-versa. But, the very basis of the country was founded on a religious purpose when the Puritans fled Europe and the Founding Fathers drafted the documents that claimed the United States as its own sovereign country. This has been a marriage that has lasted more than two centuries.
We’ve seen it this year with the contraception mandate as well as presidential-hopeful Rick Santorum’s “Satan” moment.
Frank Lambert, a history professor at Princeton University, said in a 2010 interview with PBS that religion and politics have been intertwined for years. Even Benjamin Franklin, a Deist, believed the success of the colonies over England was preordained and was a result of divine intervention.
It is widely viewed that evangelicals are drawn to Republican candidates, but Lambert pointed out that there is also a religious left.
“I would say there’s always been in American culture a tension between evangelicals — not all, but conservative evangelicals who see America primarily as a country with an evangelical heritage, and we must embrace that — versus Americans, many of them Christians, who say, ‘well, yes, but we were also conceived in the Age of Enlightenment, in the age of an emphasis on human reason, of natural rights, of religious toleration, of separation of church and state,’” he said.
Regardless of where Americans stand on religion, faith, belief or whatever they want to call it, the fact is that their belief system and politics are joined at the hip. As a Christian, I don’t see this as a bad thing. Some of the most important decisions a person makes involves some sort of moral compass, whether it’s religion or simply knowing the difference between right and wrong.
When listening to your favorite talk show or watching one of the party-biased cable networks, keep in mind that they, too, are inserting a little of their religious beliefs – and a lot of their political persuasion – into their dialogue. Whether it’s former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Protestant, or former President John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, religious beliefs will always have an impact on what you do as a politician.
Do you think Kennedy would have proposed the same contraception mandate the Obama Administration attempted recently? I think not.