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Wednesday, June 06, 2007
God hits the campaign trail
Loyalty isn't really up there in the book of political virtues. Just ask President Bush, who was mentioned a scant seven times in last night's Republican debate.

But even though politicians have never been the most loyal bunch, there's one guy they always seem to want in their corner. Someone whose poll numbers are so consistently stellar, it's almost a miracle. Someone who never makes mistakes and whose actions are always fraught with purpose and meaning. I'm talking about God. He was mentioned a whopping 21 times by the Republican candidates last night ... and I'm not even counting "God bless yous" and "I hope to Gods."

This week, the campaign trail turned into an old-fashioned camp meeting, with Republicans and Democrats alike declaring Jesus Christ as their personal savior.

At the Sojourners Conference on Monday, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards gave deeply personal testimonies of how the Lord saw them through their darkest hours. At last night's Republican debate, Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, delivered a moving sermon on the glory of creation. John McCain spoke about the "hand of God" moving in the world today. And Mitt Romney, the only Mormon in the contest, said no man would tear him from his church.

What are these people running for, anyway?

This year, possibly more than any other in modern American politics, presidential candidates of both parties are posting their faith credentials right alongside their policy positions.

George W. Bush and Karl Rove have a lot to do with it. They proved that millions of Americans are very comfortable hearing their leaders speak openly about faith. In 2004, 1 out of 4 voters was a white evangelical and they voted overwhelmingly for Bush. The current crop of Republicans is fighting hard to win over that powerful coalition.

The Democrats, meanwhile, are desperate to shake-off their image as a party of secular elitists. In the 2006 Congressional elections, a number of conservative, anti-abortion Democrats proudly declared their faith and scored some impressive victories.

Maybe that's why this week feels a little like Church Chat.

What do you think? Do you like to hear political candidates discuss their religious beliefs? Does it give you a window into the kind of president they would be?

-- By Claire Brinberg, CNN Producer
Posted By CNN: 5:54 PM ET
  68 Comments
The separation of church and state just got a little smaller. We live in a country that stands for the rights of all people to believe what the choose and do so as they please. However, these beliefs must be kept out of the political process. They cloud issues and drive a wedge in the fabric of our country. Integrity, ethics and the desire to serve have nothing to do with one's religious beliefs. I want someone to serve all people of this great country, not just those who believe in a certain god in a certain way. We could take a chapter from the French in how to keep the church empowered without being 'in' political power.
Posted By PCR - Los Angeles : 6:45 PM ET
I'm waiting for an atheist to run for President.
They don't believe in god or an afterlife, so maybe they will actually do something good while in office that will help this country NOW!
All I see are plans for the future generations... at this rate, there will be no future generations.
What say we start with fixing the problems affecting THIS generation.
What do they care though... they'll be in heaven someday right???
My point is, one can have a good moral center and not have to bring god into the picture.
Keep your religion at home... it means nothing to ME.
I want someone who will focus on DOING the job, not getting it.
Posted By Rick, Phoenix, AZ. : 6:46 PM ET
While I think morals should play a pivotal roll in any decision makers mind, I do not feel there should be a need to express someone religious background while running for office. The element of separation of church and state eliminates biases attributed to religious doctrine that may or may not self-impose itself upon modern politics. I am equally avid against any preacher who utilizes a pulpit to convey any political agenda without presenting representation of opposing views. Likewise, a politician should not be utilizing a lectern in order to promote individual religious beliefs.
Posted By Eric Davis, CA : 6:50 PM ET
Hey Claire,
OMG! People are like sheep. They tend to trust and follow the candidate who talks a lot about God. Dear God, anyone can be a wolf in sheep's clothing.
I don't care what religion my President is, I just want to know what is in his/her heart about issues that effect our country and the world. In fact, I want to know that our President's personal religious beliefs do not bleed over into governmental decisions which could conflict with MY personal religious beliefs.
George W. Bush certainly proved that speaking openly about faith can get you elected but it doesn't mean you know how to run the country. I hope millions of voters have learned their lesson. What's that saying? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me!
Yep Claire, less church chat, more talk about issues, for God's sake~
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 6:52 PM ET
Last I checked this was still a secular country. Nothing wrong with believing in a religion but there is no one absolutely true religion. That's why its called faith.

So, I don't prefer to know or care what their religeous beliefs are. BUT, when their possible decision making and policies might be based on that faith, then I am worried.
Science and reason should drive our policies and laws. They are testable and can be based on unequivicable fact. And along with that, no religion should override or be the basis to change the US Constitution.

When the decision is made to stop embryonic stem cell research to possibly cure diseases because an embryo will be used that will be thrown away anyway or an American's right to have equal treatment under the law like many others is denide because that person is gay then I am worried that the country is slowly but surely becoming a theocracy, which God forbid, could lead to losing our freedoms, or even worse extremism.
Posted By Tony C, Dallas, TX : 6:56 PM ET
I am a regular church-goer who is completely turned off when politicians start discussing their personal lives of faith. It's irrelevant to the job, and if you disagree, then I know I definitely don't want you as my president. I want to hear your ideas, not your beliefs.

And by the way, if those ideas don't include getting us immediately out of Iraq, then I have no interest in you as a candidate.

"Born again" Bush rushed us into a needless war that has stirred up a hornet's nest of violence in the region and anti-American sentiment around the globe. A real Christian president, i.e. one that actually follows Christian teachings rather than merely pandering to Christian voters, would use diplomacy and wisdom to wage peace, not sound bytes and empty bravado to wage war.
Posted By Tim O'Connell, Stillwater, OK : 6:56 PM ET
Claire,

I don't have a problem with a candidate making a faith statement and letting the chips fall where they may. What I don't like are the labels that one party is more "moral" than the other or has "values" and the other party does not. I had more than one friend tell me they voted for Bush because they liked the idea of a President who prayed and was a Christian. I replied Clinton prayed and they looked at me like I was crazy. Anyhoo, I don't like religion being used as a political gimmick, but I have no problem with a candidate proclaiming their faith. It will be one more thing that we can hold them accountable for. Are they just talking the talk or are they walking the walk? And we all fall short.
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 6:58 PM ET
Whose God are we invoking anyway? There are many different aspects of Christianity among the candidates, so im confused, do I get a Mormon God, a Roman Catholic God a Baptist God, or what? Some of us choose a Godof our own understanding, a personal God with whom we have formed a relationship. My God is't interested in politics. Then too, Al Qaeda invokes God, Allah maybe,but the same Abrahamic deity most of this country calls God. Perhaps God is having one of his good jokes or maybe He is just glad He doesn't have to vote.
I am a Native American and in my understanding He doesn't take sides.We were given a kind of stewaardship over this planet and I reckon if we don't do our job He'll vote us out of business.
Posted By Brett, Oriskany, VA : 7:00 PM ET
As a fiscal conservative and a non-Christian, I feel that America's fossil fuel dependency and the political, environmental, and military consequences that go along with it are the great issues of our time. I can only hope the American people will have the strength and wisdom not to be fooled by all the hypocritical god-talk coming from these candidates, whether they be "Democratic" or "Republican".
Posted By Mike, Tallahassee, Florida : 7:02 PM ET
It's nice to know that candidates believe but I don't really think that it tells us how good a President they will be. Look at Mr. Bush. He claims to believe, and look at the mess he's made of things. I will always remember him for Katrina and Iraq.
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 7:06 PM ET
Sad, sad, sad. All this pandering makes them look like fools. Do we really want to elect people who believe in the easter-bunny, or the even less plausible story of easter?

We're getting the nonsense we vote for, while I think it's time to say that spooks & goblins have ruled the world long enough, and look where it's got us.
Posted By Mike, Taos, NM : 7:13 PM ET
I am leery of placing anyone in an position of power that fully believes in anything that cannot be proven.(e.i. WMD)
Posted By Heather, Memphis TN : 7:15 PM ET
That leaders would seek a higher authority in attempting to lead, shows a level of responsibility and accountability to a higher being and can be interpreted (by a public that is by a vast majority believers in a higher being) as a measure of loyalty to a purpose higher than that of just obtaining the office they seek. In invoking God in their discussions and in identifying their faith, they are accepting another level of scrutiny - that of the denomination that they identify themselves with but, more importantly, they are inviting the scrutiny of an almighty.

The grand hope of voters in chosing a person of faith is that these leaders will not be self-seeking monocrats, or self-engrandizing hypocrits and that they realize they are truly accountable, not only to a voting and judging public, or to a denomination, but to an omnipresent, omniscient being - the God of all creation. Calling on Him, asking for His blessing and hoping to please Him by their actions should be an indicator to voters that they MAY actually seek to do their best and most honorable work and look out for the best interests of the country. We can all hope!

While for some that seek office, calling on God and their faith in him for sustenance may be just another tug at the emotional strings of the voters, for others the actual gravity of the office to which they aspire is a daunting task. In seeking the assistance of their God they acknowledge that they alone are not capable of doing the job on their own. Is anyone? Do you know anyone who is capable of running a small group, let alone the greatest nation, without trusting others for help, guidance and information and support of some sort? With some a huge responsibility of running/leading any large body, the reliance on others to fulfill your purpose, your stated objective and shared goals, grows exponentially.

Additionally, if you know some things about the Bible, you'll note that believers are commanded to be subject to the ruling authority of the land, as they (the rulers) are ‘ordained of God.’ As such, these leaders should be expected to legislate and act in accordance with the rules of their faith and to persuade others in line with their faith. It is far easier for people of faith to follow people of faith, because in realizing our humanness, the frailty and fallibility of the human nature, we can be more assured that a person of faith may make a mistake or misjudgement or even lie, cheat or steal, but will feel remorse for these things, seek a remedy and/or forgiveness and aspire not to repeat this type of behavior. These may seem simple, even naïve hopes, but what part of voting for any person you barely know (or have only read about) isn’t?

Making a statement of faith takes a person who is willing to risk. Some (millions) have risked all by making a statement of faith. For these candidates, they may not be placing their life on the line with such statements, but they are pinning their hopes and aspirations on some purpose that is greater than their self. History, the voting public, even an Almighty God will be the judge of their words, and more importantly – their ACTIONS.
Posted By Matthew - Livermore, CA : 7:17 PM ET
Indeed. It does give us all a window into the kind of president they would be. And it really angers some of us. What ever happened to seperation of church and state or freedom of religion?! Do we really need a president standing in front of a podium with a global audience speaking of how HIS god influences his decisions? No thanks. A politicain being religious is fine by me. But the nation is made up of many different religions, so he or she shouldn't be making decisions based on their's.
Posted By A. LeWarne, Beaverton, Oregon : 7:18 PM ET
I am a Bible-believing Christian, and have found this recent surge of "Godspeak" most interesting. But honestly, my main concern right now is to see them "walk the talk," as the cliche goes. Although I am inclined to vote for a Christian, when it comes to politics, I am more interested in genuine character, integrity and truth. And right now, democrat and republican alike, I am afraid this sudden talk of faith feels like politicians being politicians, and saying what they think people want to hear and will respond to.
Posted By Heidi, Fullerton, CA : 7:23 PM ET
I think God was talked about for years by our elected officials. Perhaps, since so many are now offended by the talk of God or Religion that might be one of the reasons it seems so noticeable. It doesn't bother me to hear talk of God, but I do realize that not everyone shares that opinion.
So I guess there needs to be balance..Free speech to state your belief in God and free speech to disagree. Balance. Take Care
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif : 7:26 PM ET
Truly religious people I know do not profess their faith, they live it. Few politicians live their supposed faith. They use it, wear it on their sleeve for gain, like Mr. Clinton and Ms. Hilton, both conspicuously photographed carrying a bible. When politicians mention a personal God in public, it should be viewed with contempt and derision.
Posted By Chris, Sierra Madre, CA : 7:26 PM ET
Over the past decade, much to the detriment of civility in American society, 'king makers' and politicians have successfully politicized almost every aspect of private life in the USA. Let us not succumb to the politicization of "faith" as another litmus test for "worthiness" in our candidates. Our founding fathers wisely insisted on a clear separation of church and state. Declarations of faith, for obvious political advantage, has no place in American politics. I would much rather here clear, meaningful declarations of policy issues from candidates. Where,and how, each chooses to explore the spiritual realm should remain a strictly private matter.
Posted By Ms. M from Palm Beach, FL : 7:33 PM ET
In average, day-to-day conversation, I do not care one way or another what someone's religious beliefs are or what the extent of those beliefs is. I appreciate people who have an honest, strong sense of faith and spirituality, and I know that it contributes greatly to making someone well-rounded as a person. Yes, there can be abuses in religion, as there can in any other establishment - family, education, government, etc.

However, it becomes disconcerting after a while to hear the same core beliefs out of all of the candidates who are running. I'm not even talking as an atheist running scared of religion in general; I'm talking as a pagan, a member of a minority religion that doesn't share all of the same beliefs and dogma as the majority religion.

I do not force my beliefs on others, and I appreciate when the same right is granted to me. My beliefs guide my day-to-day actions and interactions with others to the extent that it influences the choices I make, the issues I support and the causes I stand behind. If the candidates who are showcasing their faith so wholeheartedly are doing it out of a sense of sharing their personal relationship with their God, I don't have a problem with it. When they feel that their faith must be imposed on others through legislation and changes to government, then I have a problem with it.

That is why the "Separation of Church and State" clause has been such a difficult issue for people to tackle. Where do we draw the line? Obviously, under said clause, even politicians are guaranteed the right to practice whatever religion (if any) they are comfortable with. However, their constituents have the right to not have that same religion imposed on them through legal means. If any of the candidates can walk that fine line, and maintain their own personal beliefs while not imposing on others, kudos to them.
Posted By Elizabeth, Superior, WI : 7:35 PM ET
I have a very strong personal faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, which is why you would think that the issue of political candidate's religious views would be so important to me, however I don't feel that it is as important as having the right individual in office. I want a President who is going to eliminate or cut down poverty in this country; who is going to make sure that our education system is the best it can be; who care about protecting American lives; who care about ensuring that every individual in this country is provided for in every realm, so that every individual may have the "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" ensured us in the Declaration of Independance. I would rather have a President who is more concerned and dedicated to that cause, then any other. After all there is always a chance that an individual put in office, will find God because of the mere stress and difficulty of the position. Hilary Clinton mentioned in the Faith and Politics forum recently that had she not had faith before going to the White House, she would have found it not soon after arriving at the White House.
In closing, I think that there is to much of a misconception made by those of faith, who believe that God can only use a person of faith, however that is simply untrue. God can and will use anyone for His work and will to be done. So if an individual of no personal faith is elected President, it is puts more pressure on the faith community to pray for that President.
Posted By Jessica, Bourbonnais Illinois : 7:37 PM ET
Although I do not agree with Mr. Bush's policies, the one thing he has done for this country is brought God back into the equation. However, talk is cheap. I am a democrat, but am also pro-life. I have come to find out that there are almost NO democrat politicians that also have a pro life stance. This is a sad state of affairs.
Posted By Jamie, Bridgton, Maine : 7:37 PM ET
God, faith, and spirituality are personal issues and should have no place in politics. Humanity's worst atrocities have been inflicted in the name of God. Deciding who to vote for based on their faith eliminates the need to think and make some hard choices. If the American people had used their brains instead of their emotions during the last 2 presidential elections, the country would probably be in a much better position than we are today.
Posted By Fred W, Las Vegas, NV : 7:39 PM ET
No, I do not "like to hear political candidates discuss their religious beliefs"!

But yes, it does seem to give a window into the kind of president they'd be. And for some of them it isn't pretty! It's called being phony!

I get the impression these days that they all think that if they dared to say that they weren't religious then they'd get tarred & feathered!

We need a good, level-headed, intelligent, honest, hard-working and energetic candidate with enough experience to be able to look the other world leaders in the eye with integrity and genuine goodwill and smart enough to know what the deal is and be able to handle it.
Posted By Mary, Danbury CT : 7:41 PM ET
By all means the candidates should talk about their religion, it shows just how delusional they are and should be a warning to the apethetic secular majority that they need to get out and vote to avoid a US "Taliban".
Posted By Pete, Dallas, TX : 7:42 PM ET
The U.S. Constitution says, "...no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." Why then does it seem like so many politicians and candidates are each fighting to show that he or she scores highest on some tacit test of religion? Have they all lost sight of what our country is really about?
Posted By N. Lapid, Chatham, NJ : 7:51 PM ET
I simply refer you to ARTICLE VI of the US Constitution. "There shall be NO religious test for office." All of this emphasis on the Sky God is a direct threat to our freedoms and way of life.
Posted By Kevin, Denver CO : 7:54 PM ET
Freedom of religion means someone of any or no religion is eligible to hold public office. Just because a candidate states their faith in Jesus does nothing to impress me about the candidates political credentials.

Personally, I'd much rather hear all of the candidates discussing the very real problems facing this nation and hear what their plan is on solving these problems.
Posted By Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 7:57 PM ET
Pandering to evangelicals is an interesting tactic for the Democrats - to gain ground with a quarter of the populace - but it might be turning off an equivalent number. Unfortunately, when people are turned off they don't vote, and this could only aggrevate the misconception that the US has been overtaken by evangelical, right-wing conservatives. I'm not convinced that the Dems are making the right move here - they've already alienated enough of their base by not taking a position; experimenting with GOP tactics could be disasterous. Personally, I would be elated to vote for a secular elitist...if any still exist.
Posted By Shelly Wilson, St. Petersburg, FL : 7:59 PM ET
Belief of any kind is a matter of personal choice. This choice & a free expression of it is protected by our laws. However belief has nothing to do with the running of the country.
I am disheartened by our public officials, both elected & appointed who use their personal beliefs, be they religious or secular to create a sense of connection with the voting public and yet not come forward with how they would run the country. The voting public should be told what a candidate would try to do while in office & how they would go about it. An informed electorate is the greatest strength
of a free society so lose the smoke screens & the hallelujahs & tell us what you the candidate want to do to help this country & all its' citizens.
Posted By John N, Asfield,MA : 8:17 PM ET
people are being duped. our founding fathers did a great job to ensure religion is not influenced/manipulated by the govt. unforutnatly they did not set up the necessary safe guards to protect the government from religious intrusion....which is just as bad, potentially worse. its funny how people forget why a seapration of church and state is so valuable....they easily succomb to blurring the lines when those decisions are in their interests. what will all the christians do when our govt is controlled by a religious group who decides to distort or outlaw christianity? maybe only then will they realize the slippery slope they intiated....probably too late to save their sorry ass.
Posted By brent durst, washington : 8:20 PM ET
Sure, it's nice that they have a faith that lends its support to the candidates' belief systems...
But, honestly, I'm not voting for a President because I'm glad they believe in God..I'm voting for them for what they have to offer as the leader of the United States.
Posted By Manisha, Los Angeles, CA : 8:22 PM ET
Hi Claire, I do like to hear candidates discussing their religious beliefs to give me some insight into whether they believe in the separation of Church and State and whether they believe in God.
I could not vote for any politician who does not believe in God or anyone who espouses Religion to get votes. We are all smart enough today to see the hypocrisy in so called believers as well as the many, "pillars of the Church".
Posted By Judy Stage Brooklyn MI : 8:25 PM ET
"What do you think? Do you like to hear political candidates discuss their religious beliefs? Does it give you a window into the kind of president they would be?"

It is repellant that a political figure has to make a public parade of some sort of religious faith to even be allowed to run for office. Why are the media helping enforce this defacto litmus test?

Could a Buddhist or an atheist even run for a national-level public office in the US these days? Could Thomas Jefferson?
Posted By Arachnae, Sterling VA : 8:26 PM ET
I personally believe in faith by action. I believe a man or woman is not his or her words but what he or she does every day in interactions with everyone from the check out person at the market to the guy who cuts ahead of a line of traffic. I don't care that a person goes to Darfur, says "Gee this is bad" and comes home to do nothing. I care that a person votes to make sure a single mom can make enough money to feed and clothe her kids or afford the gas it takes to get her car running and off to work. I care that a politician will work to make sure all people have equal access to quality healthcare no matter what the bank account looks like. I care that when a person says he's not going to give up on a city like New Orleans or an issue like genocide in the Sudan, he actually still checks in, rattles sabers, and makes a difference. I care that a politician honestly sees all people as God's kids, not just those that fit an agenda, and provides equal rights and opportunities for them regardless of gender, faith, race, sexual orientation, disabilities, or income level. I care that when a politician says he or she respects life it is life in all forms, including the unborn, the elderly, and the soldier dying in the Middle East right now. I care that this politician acts to take care of people, not just his ego. I don't care about the rhetoric of politics. Anyone can say anything. It's what that person does over time that impresses me. And right now, I'm feeling like the pickings are pretty slim in this presidential race.
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 8:46 PM ET
I think it's necessary to know where a candidate stands on God and religion because the opinions that person has and the decisions they make are heavily influenced by these beliefs. A person's faith cannot be seperated from them like their clothing; it is a part of who they are, and I for one, would like to know what sorts of things are influencing my president's decisions. Whether I believe in God or not, whether I believe in the seperation of church and state or not, I still believe a person's religious beliefs are an integral part of who that person is and, consequently, what sort of president they will become.
Posted By Brooke Cox, Pocatello, ID : 8:51 PM ET
If you think politicians are bad with the escalating celestial name dropping…. wait to hear how much “worse” the people are. Speaking for my self, as one of the people out here, this is my sentiment for 1988.
“God for President, Christ for Vice President.” And I’m planning to wear and sell like T-shirts. Let me know if you want one. We’ll need it. Trust me on this.

Rev. Magdalena Light, RN
Havre de Grace, Maryland
Posted By Rev. Magdalena Light, RN : 8:54 PM ET
I find it sad that candidates feel they must profess some kind of faith in some kind of god in order to prove themselves to the electorate. It's SO beside the point.

I'm ready to vote for a candidate of high morals who is an atheist. I believe such a candidate exists, but it's way too early in our brief history for that person to be viable as a candidate. People of faith would tear him/her apart.
Posted By Travis/La Grange, Texas : 8:54 PM ET
Frankly I find it scary and absolutely contrary to the desires of our founding fathers. It's unfortunate that we live in an age of religious terrorism where candidates try to portray other candidates as being from a radical Muslim background. A person's religious beliefs should play no role in their candidacy, except for cases like Huckabee, who as an ordained baptist minister clearly does not have the best interests of all Americans at heart.
Posted By Daniel, Dallas : 8:57 PM ET
Dear Claire, below is the correct version of my comment I sent in a few minutes ago. I made a mistake of not editing and afterwards I realized that my computer, with a mind of its own, typed in 1988 instead of 2008. Please correct it if you plan to post it. Thanks.

If you think politicians are bad with the escalating celestial name dropping…. wait to hear how much “worse” the people are. Speaking for my self, as one of the people out here, this is my sentiment for 2008:

God for President, Christ for Vice President. And I’m planning to wear and sell like T-shirts. Let me know if you want one. We will need it. Trust me on this.

Rev. Magdalena Light, RN
Havre de Grace, Maryland
Posted By Rev. Magdalena Light, RN : 9:16 PM ET
Kudos to Matthew of Livermore for his earlier post: a rational explanation of what some voters are seeking in a faithful candidate.

His comments could spur a useful discussion: Given that it is rational to want good leaders and rational to observe that faith keeps certain people honest, we can start discussing how to keep personal faith-based support structures separate from rational public decision-making.
Posted By Chris Habecker, Thousand Oaks, CA : 9:28 PM ET
I could give a rats butt about the candidate’s beliefs. I do care that they listen to and serve the people of this nation and serve in the best interests of this great nation and the people that call this nation home. Any candidate that puts their religion first is trying to get votes. Any one of them that totally disagrees with evolution is delusional. We've had enough religious posturing for the past seven years with Herr Bush. They kowtow to all the special interest groups just to get votes. What is the problem making English the official language of this nation? How about stopping the gluttony of the oil companies, the outsourcing of jobs overseas, getting tough on illegal immigration (illegal doesn’t mean Spanish). The poisoning of products from china, (tell china either police your industries or we will turn away all imports.) That’s it for now I want to see if this gets printed.
Posted By Warren Searfoss Lehighton Pa. : 9:31 PM ET
What do you expect when the moderators ask them direct questions about their faith? This whole debate was a sham, which was expected with CNN running it. Ron Paul gets 6 minutes? The man is a doctor and CNN won't let him answer a question about health care??? Instead he gets asked if he would build a fence between the US and Canada. At least when you shill try not to be so shamelessly obvious.
If I am going to thank God, it is that I only had to sit through the debate, but was blessed with the good sense to turn off CNN before what I am sure was a post debate talking heads babblefest over Rudy McRomney.
Posted By Ray , Pennsylvania : 9:39 PM ET
I do appreciate hearing where candidates stand in their personal beliefs. I consider various factors in casting my vote, but I strongly consider those who will work to protect the most vulnerable, the unborn. It's a matter of priorities for me. When life isn't valued, what else will be?
Posted By Alan Smith - Colorado : 12:27 AM ET
No, I'm a student of the philosophy Hillary Clinton mentioned: being suspicious of those who wear their religion on their sleeve. I'd rather the candidate's actions and conduct speak of their ethics. I don't need them to tell me about them.

I think there is an inverse relationship between talking about God and possessing genuine piety.

Too many tragedies have transpired in the name of religion. It's the justification for as much harm as good. Furthermore, when I review the presidents we've had over the last 40 years, I don't think it's the ones who have espoused their faith that have done the most for the country. They aren't the ones who furthered the civil rights movement, got us out of Vietnam, opened trade with China, and balanced our budget.

Give me the lying, cheating, womanizing scoundrels over the devout any day (or any election year). In fact, at the next debate, why not ask the candidates to raise their hand if they fit the scoundrel bill. The one that does is the one who will get my vote.

Michele
Posted By Michele Jackson, Northridge, CA : 12:29 AM ET
As St. Francis of Assisi wisely taught, "Preach the Gospel constantly, if necessary, use words."
It's easy to talk about the Gospel, but to actually live the Gospel, to love and do good to one's enemies, to pray for one's slanderers, to restrain anger, to avoid judgment, to practice generosity. . .A life like that does not require "faith talk" to justify it.
Posted By Jayme, Maumee, OH : 1:04 AM ET
I need to clarify something from my earlier post and hope I'm allowed to do so. When I wrote that I didn't care that someone came back from Darfur and did nothing what I meant to say is that it is a huge deal when someone sees genocide, uses it as a photo op, comes home, and does nothing. The don't was supposed to be a do and part of a thought that got lost somewhere when I went on to something else. This is what happens when I don't edit after I type while the ADHD is in high gear. My apologies for the mess up. The rest of the post stands. And going back to the saber rattling, I lost all respect for Sen. Obama after his statement today. Maybe he needs to move to New Orleans for a month to understand what it means to people in Louisiana that Anderson Cooper and the rest of the team from CNN covering this do have integrity. At a minimum these people at least deserve to have the truth spoken about their actions. OK. One less candidate to worry about...
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 2:45 AM ET
I think it's ridiculous, It's simply too easy for a politician to put on a show for the votes. I think it's important to know about a persons character before casting a vote. However, we needn't look any further than their voting record, it speaks volumes.
Posted By Dave, San Diego, CA : 4:10 AM ET
I truly do not understand why so much time and coverage is being given to religion in the context of politics in this day and age. I thought all had been settled when the founders of this country came here to escape religiously motivated governments.
All that aside, a country of intelligent, well educated/informed people is said to be full of people who are ready and willing to align their political decision, if polls are to be believed, with that of their religious affiliations. Mind boggling indeed, one might even be tempted to dismiss the suggestion all together.
But, as a rational person I must admit that the candidates have been cornered into professing their religion simply because of the attention polls have given to the votes of born-again-Christians. One may be a great person, and quite well qualified for the job but if they don’t find a way around this hurdle they don’t get the job, at list so it seems (I sincerely hope not). So they have to find that so ever illusive balance between deceitfulness and tactful propaganda. I’d dare to say, it is a slippery slop down to the abyss of what the founders of this country run away from in the first place. One can only hope this country gets back on its path of using the mind in making secular decisions.
For the record I have faith, I very much believe in God. And I hope most of us are smart enough to know faith is personal, and in no way to be used as a weapon or a means to an end whatever the end may be.
Posted By kokie Melaku, San Francisco, CA : 4:47 AM ET
Of course I want to hear a candidates view on religion and faith, and I don't really have to agree with them. Only a fool would not want to be aware of what factors and experiences will be contributing to the decision making of a leader. Of course we could be secularists and blindly condem anyone who professes to believe in a "higher power" but that is just plain stupid.
Posted By Tim, Boca Raton, Fl : 6:01 AM ET
Yes, I like hearing each candidate discuss their faith and the role it would play in their Presidency. Why? So I can vote for the ones who are more likely to govern by way of logic, reason, and evidence, and LEAST likely to factor "faith" into important decision-making!

I can't believe that after the dismal failure of the Bush administration, more people arent getting skeptical of candidates who "do what Jesus tells them to do".
Posted By Kaja Birkwell, Portland OR : 6:39 AM ET
No, political candidate's God-gushing shows me absolutely no window to their souls! In most cases, I see it as just another way, among many, to accomplish what they want to accomplish. If God held the position in their lives they'd have us believe, unfortunately they wouldn't be where they are! Sorry ... can't swallow that Hillary's Faith got her through the hard times either!! Good grief ... how stupid does she think her "subjects" are?
- joanna
Posted By Joanna Shupe - NM : 7:14 AM ET
Thomas Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, and Payne must ALL be rolling in their graves because of these spineless candidates who simply will not say that THEIR RELIGION IS PRIVATE, and of no one's business.

This IS a secular country, always was meant to be. People want religion, then go vote Iranian !!!

No God, No Masters
Posted By Frank Hernandez, TEX : 7:57 AM ET
It's almost like being attacked by a bear while holding a salmon. You throw the salmon and pray that the bear goes after that. They aren't sure of the reactions to their answers (in some instances they aren't even sure of the answers themselves) so, they level it out with a "Thank God...". I guess we have to treat this like a fast food restaurant. "May I have an answer, hold the religious references please."
Posted By Jemaul, Savannah Ga : 8:27 AM ET
CNN pulled out the faith questions because that is the platform republicans run on and have WON with. It's a valid question considering the blatant hypocrisy with the religious right.

Can someone please explain these "Godly folk" who consider themselves "pro-LIFE" but have no problems with PREEMPTIVE WAR???

Apparently I missed God's memo that an embryo is more important than a full-grown human life.
Posted By JD, Washington DC : 8:59 AM ET
Religion and/or spirituality is important to many people, myself included. However, to constantly invoke the name of "God" has more to do with the candidate's ambitions than a supreme being. It provides the illusion of "omniscience" and the motto "God is on my side." Other times, it prevents them from taking responsibility for ongoing catastrophy while in office. After all, it's part of "God's plan."
Posted By Carol B., Frederick, MD : 10:23 AM ET
Since faith is something that can never be proven, it has no place in the political process. The most religious of our presidents have been the absolute worst at governing the country. They have greatly damaged our relationships with other countries because those countries see the hypocrisy.

I'd love to see a US Government of intelligent, rational leaders. Enough of the greedy, the zealots and the just plain dumb people in Washington!!

When will America wake up, and hold their leaders accountable? We pay their salaries; if they can't earn their keep honestly, they need to be fired.
Posted By Deb, Richmond VA : 2:00 PM ET
I have to agree with Rick from AZ in that it would be monumentally wonderful to have an ATHEIST elected president.

However, I doubt I'd ever live to see the day.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it absolutely ridiculous that a candidate's religion should be front and center in the race. It's truly laughable. And we are trying so hard in other parts of the world to rid countries of religiously-based governments.

We live in the 21st century, yet we still require our elected leaders to believe in flying spaghetti monsters and book written thousands of years ago by ordinary men. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Posted By Jesse, Portland, Oregon : 2:13 PM ET
I don't like to hear candidates speak about their religious faith. I'm more concerned about their plans to improve our economy, reduce gas prices, reduce dependency on foreign oil, protect our Social Security system, provide national health insurance,and preserve our ecology. I want to vote for a candidate that can back his words with the appropriate action.
Posted By Donna Romanak, Bangor, MI : 3:40 PM ET
My faith is very important to me, don't get me wrong. But I guess I see it this way: only time will tell what those candidates believe. There have been a lot of people as of late jumping on the "white evangelical" bandwagon, and sometimes the real story looks a lot different when the truth is told.
Posted By N. Schroeper, Axalp, BE, Switzerland : 5:30 PM ET
My faith is quite apparent to anyone who sees me: I am a white, Scots/Irish (5th generation) American woman, who converted to Islam, and decided to wear the headscarf. I'd like to hear what these candidates have to say about MY God? I am, contrary to some people's belief, still an American who loves this country, but I certainly do hate our current Adminstration. I don't want to hear a lot of hot air about religious beliefs, when the actions don't back up the words. All of them should shut up and SHOW US THE PROOF of their moral fiber, and let us know what they are GOING to do.....then actually DO it.

Wouldn't THAT be a nice change?
Posted By Barbara, Columbia MD : 8:52 PM ET
I think we have become misguided in what the founding fathers of our nation believed about "church and state". The quotes below should cause us to reflect on how far we have migrated from their frame of reference. I think faith, not necessarily religion, matters and influences policy in every era. May God continue to bless America!

“No one can rejoice more than I do at every step the people of this great country take to preserve the Union, establish good order and government, and to render the nation happy at home and respectable abroad. No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means, and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us, so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever Come to pass. The great Governor of the Universe has led us too Long and too far on the road to happiness and glory, to forsake us in the midst of it. By folly and improper conduct, proceeding from a variety of causes, we may now and then get bewildered; but I hope and trust that there is good sense and virtue enough left to recover the right path before we shall be entirely lost.” George Washington, June 29, 1788

“It may be the will of Heaven that America shall suffer calamities still more wasting and distresses yet more dreadful. If this is to be the case, it will have this good effect, at least: it will inspire us with many virtues, which we have not, and correct many errors, follies, and vices, which threaten to disturb, dishonor, and destroy us. The furnace of affliction produces refinement, in states as well as individuals. And the new governments we are assuming, in every part, will require a purification from our vices, and an augmentation of our virtues or there will be no blessings…But I must submit all my hopes and fears to an overruling Providence; in which, unfashionable as the faith may be, I firmly believe.”
John Adams, July 3, 1776

“Review the great scenes of history: you will find mankind has Always been obliged to pay bear for the blessings they enjoyed…The struggles of a great people have almost always ended in the Establishment of liberty....Such a people are spoken of with admiration by all futures ages….” “Their souls glow with gratitude for the virtue and self-denial of their forefathers. They consider them as patterns for their own conduct on similar occasions and are continually pointing them out to the reverence and imitation of their children. These are the glorious effects of patriotism and virtue. These are the rewards annexed to the faithful discharge of that great and honorable duty, fidelity to our country…. I pray to God that the fair character I have described may be that of America to the latest ages.” James Iredell, May 1, 1778

“To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoy. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism.” “ All efforts to destroy the foundations of our holy religion, ultimately tend to the subversion also of political freedom and happiness.” “Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.” Jedediah Morse, 1799

“Soldiers! Let us humble ourselves before the Lord, Our God, asking through Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, beseeching the aid of the God of our forefathers in the defense of our homes and our liberties, thanking Him for His past blessings, and imploring their continuance upon our cause and our people.” “Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge
our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray-to really pray.” “Let there be prayer at sunup, at sundown, at midnight - all through the day. Let us pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes, Let us pray for the churches.” “let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word ‘concern’ out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have known Jesus Christ and His Redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice.” General Robert E. Lee, 1863
Posted By JoJo Sulphur, LA : 9:33 PM ET
The thought of faith based politics is frighting. Romney and Edwards profess that they are guided by their savior, Jesus Christ. Does this mean that if Jesus Christ answering their prayer commends them, they are going to preemtively strike Iran or other 'rogue nations' of 'axis evil'? or carry out policies based on faith? Indeed a frighting prospect!
Posted By Yung-In Choi Newport Coast, CA : 12:29 PM ET
George Bush believes in god. He also believes in WMDs, peace through warfare, and his own infallibility.
Posted By Chris Saia, Astoria, N.Y. : 6:23 PM ET
I just saw Soledad O'Brien's CNN program "Faith Politics" where she interviewed Edwards, Obama, and Clinton. Now that we have "Faith Politics" out of the way, when can we expect to see CNN's program on "Reason Politics"?
Posted By Rob Riley Menlo Park, CA : 9:09 PM ET
It is unfair to suggest that the presidential candidates are bringing up faith and religion too frequently when the comments are simply in response to religious-based or faith-based questions directed to them. In the Presidential debate, Giuliani was asked to respond to a Catholic priest's comment about his stand on abortion. Who first brought religion and God into that question by quoting a Catholic priest? Not Giuliani. And let's direct the creation/evolution question to "the minister," Huckabee and see how he can creatively answer that question without mentioning anything about faith or God. Romney is constantly asked by the media and others about his faith. He has repeatedly stated that the American people will eventually move on from that and get to the real issues of who will best lead this country in a positive direction. When will the media move on? Perhaps if people are getting tired of hearing about God, faith and religion, THE MEDIA has the responsibility to deliver what the people want, questions that relate to policy not faith. The irony here is that the media keeps posing religious-based questions and then turns around and criticizes the candidates for their religious-based answers.


Another irony is that the media is fascinated with asking religious questions of the presidential candidates and yet the nature of the blogs that they have selected to post clearly demonstrate an anti-religious bias. I believe that the blogs chosen do not represent a cross-sectional veiwpoint of the American people. It is unfortunate that we are not privy to the other comments that were sent. However, I am glad that at the very least you included the blog containing the quotes by America's founding fathers. These men stated their faith and their belief that it is by Providence that our nation is led and that without this faith our country will fall. But what do they know? They are only individuals who created one of the finest documents ever written.

One more thing...someone commented that he thought people came to America to escape religious oppression and that we have accomplished that and can now put that behind us. Freedom of religious thought or voice, or ANY form of free speech can never be put on a shelf and considered "put behind us." It is this freedom which allows for the media to ask biased questions and criticize the candidates for their answers, for the candidates to respond in any way they choose, and for any of us to criticize the candidates, the media or each other. Not one of us is being silenced, put into prison or killed because of our comments. This freedom is a privilege that continues to be preserved and enjoyed because of the sacrifice of many from the beginnings of America to this day.

Julie Ann Kirk
Petaluma, CA
Posted By Julie Ann Kirk, Petaluma, CA : 11:35 PM ET
Its a sick perversion that political leaders claim to stand behind religious values. Then, like the Bush administration, lead us into a war where many thousands are killed. A war that began because the public was duped into believing that there was weapons of mass destruction waiting to be turned loose on either us or our allies. Religion is a political card that every politician plays. I am very turned-off when I hear politicians sounding more like preachers rather than sticking to the issues.
Posted By Chadwick Hurlburt, Campton Kentucky : 7:32 AM ET
When these people start talking religion or holding up the Bilbe, then in my book they better be living as per what the bible requires of them or keep their mouth shut about religion.
Posted By Ranger-12 Gulfport MS : 11:25 PM ET
Many have already summed it up before me, but put another way...

I think George W. Bush has proven that declarations of a religious following do not a person with a moral center make. He is as wrong as the terrorists he declared war on - stating that he is doing "god's" work.

I would consider myself atheist. That was surely shaped by how many atrocities occur in the name of one's god. I'd be interested in knowing if a group of atheists ever killed over another's beliefs. None come to mind.

I fear the volume of people who must have mindlessly followed the words coming from their pulpit and elected him, particularly the 2nd time. What other rhetoric and votes can they be persuaded to follow?
Posted By Traci, Royal Oak, MI : 5:21 PM ET
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