Thursday, July 19, 2007
Which party is God's party?
The separation of church and state is a principle of American government that most of us learned in grade school. We were taught that it was a cornerstone idea of the founding fathers and serves as an important hedge against undue religious influence on our system of laws and justice.

Rod Parsley thinks we were taught a lie.

The much-renowned Protestant pastor believes that while the founders did not want one denomination to take over the government, they fully intended for the population as a whole -- which was then, and is now, overwhelmingly Christian -- to inject religious beliefs into the political process.

Parsley cites the same documents so often mentioned by those who argue for the separation: the Constitution, letters from the nation's founders, and other historic records. The difference is, he believes references to separation are primarily about protecting the church from government interference; not the other way around.

Both Democrats and Republicans are actively seeking the support of religious voters this election. A recent Pew Forum study found that 51 percent of Americans think churches and other houses of worship should be engaging politicians on issues, while 46 percent think churches should mind their own business and leave politics alone.

So what do you think: Should religious communities have more or less influence on the government? And is either party more welcoming to those with religious views?

-- By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent
Posted By CNN: 2:27 PM ET
Good Lord, Tom! I was hoping for something a little "mellower" on the blog today--immigration, war, natural disasters, tragedy, Phollywood, etc. Way to "stir up the hornets' nest," Tom!! I can't wait to read some of the responses/blogs! Please WAIT while I go stick my head in the sand!
Posted By Mark, Sacramento, CA : 2:40 PM ET
As illustrated by religion, we have "way too much freedom" in this country, that's the problem.

Strong believers are always fanatical in their fervor, and try to make others believe what they do spiritually. They think they are "right" and their god/deity is also the "right god/deity". How sad is that?!

Lastly, I wish the Muslims/Islam would quit being so clannish and divisive. They are annoying.
Posted By Carol, Denver, CO : 2:43 PM ET
Speaking of religion, I heard that the FEDERAL GOVT. will be spending OUR hard-earned taxpayers' dollars INSTALLING MUSLIM/ISLAM FOOT BATHS in all major USA airports!!!! Oh my God--it has gotten THAT BAD here in the USA, shame!!!

What I would like to know is: Ok, if they're gonna put MFBs (Muslim
Foot Baths) in all USA major airports, will they also put in a stand-pedestal of Holy Water for the Christians?~!?? 'Ya think?!? No way, Jose! PC has gotten way out of hand. The world is getting crazier and crazier. We have been way too liberal for way too long now, and it's time to STOP.
Posted By Sam, Houston, TX : 2:47 PM ET
Organized religion has caused more problems than it has solved--i.e., war, famine, hatred, death, destruction, genocide, etc., etc. Holy Men are manipulators and users of others.
Posted By Wendy, Salem, OR : 2:49 PM ET
Organized religion scares me!
Posted By Thomas-->> Boston, MA : 2:51 PM ET
Hi Tom,
In my opinion, we need balance. I'm a Catholic and my faith is mine to practice. Your faith or lack of any, is your choice and must be honored.
Will we all bring to the table of government a different take on issues? Of course we will. But that's what being an adult, making decisions and tackling issues with compromise is all about. Just my opinion. Take Care
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 3:04 PM ET
Freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom to shove it down people's throats. Religion needs to stay out of government, politics and the legislator. I have the right to any religion I want but I also have the right not to belong to any religion and without interference from my elected government.

Nicki, Saskatoon, Canada
Posted By Nicki : 3:05 PM ET
In matters of government, the United States has the Constitution as a guideline for creating a fair and equitable society. Does anyone really want to substitute the Bible as our guideline? Religion should not be a factor in government.

As to which party is more welcoming to those with religious views, it's all a matter of choice. The vast majority of candidates from both parties don't live by their religious views but pander to those who claim to do so.
Posted By Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 3:14 PM ET
I think that the church and state have always been intertwined it was just less obvious. All of the deals back then were done behind closed doors. No one truely knew the extent of how much a role religion played. Now preachers such as Pastor Parsley have brought these issues out into the open and have used their clout to make a change allowing what was once done in private to be seen publicly. And letting everyone know that christianity still has a place in politics and it doesn't have to be hidden. And shouldn't be.If 84% of this nation claims to be christians then why shouldn't religion play a major role in our country! It doesn't have to play to one denomination but can be spread out to all.

It seems that religion has become nothing but a pawn for both parties. If they can say or do the right thing they may get elected. But to me it all seems rather staged... They are just saying what some voters want to hear. I don't buy a word of it from most of them!! Just look at their lives!! The proof is in the fruit you bare!! And most of theirs has long been rotten!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Cindy : 3:28 PM ET
Oh, come on Tom!
We all kow that the conservative right wing republicans are much more welcoming to those with religious views.
We know those magic words to get the vote of all the sheep, "I am a born again christian"!
While I am a practicing christian, I don't want to hear that from my candidate. You know, separation of church and state! I damn sure won't vote for who my chruch tells me to vote for either. That is ludicrous! I can think for myself thank you very much!
I sure hope voters have learned a very important lesson from being scorched by the burning BUSH!
Thanks Tom~
Posted By Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX : 3:36 PM ET

First off, re your definition of terms last night--I looked up "evangelical" in my circa 1982 dictionary and "evangelical" is defined as pertaining to the Gospel; Protestant; a Protestant group emphasizing the authority of the Gospel and holding that salvation is from faith and grace rather than from good works and sacraments alone. But today it means conservative and goes to church a lot? So even tho I meet the 1982 definition, I do not meet the 2007 definition and now would be considered a mainline Prostestant. Meaning, I am more moderate and maybe even wishy washy in my faith even though I go to church regularly--once a week. OK. Does that make me a Democrat because the Republicans say they are God's party? If Hillary were a Southern Baptist rather than a Methodist, would she be considered to be more sincere about her faith?

I think Pastor Parsley has a point. The founding fathers were more concerned about government interfering with the freedom of religion rather than religion's influence on government. Think of the pilgrims. And mandatory church attendance during the colonial period. Attendance was mandatory not because the government was concerned about lost souls, but so that everyone would be planted in the pews to hear the government's proclamations about when taxes were due and lastest edicts from King George. (Source: Williamsburg tour.)

To answer your questions, if investment companies, banks, Indian tribes, unions, cigarette manufacturers, doctors, teachers, etc. can lobby to influence government, why not religious groups? I don't think they should have any more influence that anyone else per se, but who are we kidding. Money talks and legislators listen to whomever has the most financial clout. I am not active in either political party so I don't know which one would welcome me more. However, the Republicans have put themselves out there as the party of the faithful--God's party, which I think is wrong. I have overheard people actually say, well of course I am Republican, I am a Christian. Romney's candidacy puts an interesting wrinkle in the mix. I don't think God is a Republican or a Democrat, but is an Independent. No one party has the corner on morality or righteousness. Plenty of Dems and Republicans have fallen from the pedestals on which they have placed themselves.

And Tom, Protestant should have been capitalized. You had lower case "p." Catholic can be either lower or upper case depending on whether you are speaking of the denomination or the church universal.

Charlotte D, Reformed and still reforming
Posted By Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 3:46 PM ET
Hey Tom, personally I wouldn't call the separation of church and state a lie, so much as a near impossibility. A government and the laws and regulations it creates are supposed to reflect the values and morals of its citizens. If a large majority of those citizens have beliefs based in religion its all but impossible to have a true separation of that government and those beliefs.
Posted By Jennifer, Washington DC : 3:54 PM ET
Oh boy!! Mr. Foreman, you have really stirred up the hornet's nest today.

I am going to be bluntly honest and I hope that my blog is posted. Rob Parsley, with respect, has no clue what he is talking about! He has no understanding of the political and relgious climate under which the founders had to operate that formulated their radical ideas for a new government in the United States. To think that the founding fathers created the separation of church and state to protect the church is insane!

In England, back during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558 - 1603),
Queen Elizabeth I decided that she wanted to turn England into a Protestant nation, she did this by creating the Anglican church and becoming its head. To this day the British Royal Monarch is not only the representative of the people of England, but is also the head of the national church. The British Royal Monarch is kind of like a pope. Why did she do this? For political reasons.

Before her reign, Queen Mary I, wanted to restore Catholicism through out England primarily because she married King Philip II of Spain. Spain was more powerful than England at the time, and the English thought that Mary I's move to turn England Catholic was bad. They thought that she was selling England out to Spain. After Queen Elizabeth I assumed the throne, she reversed this trend much to the delight of her subjects. She defeated Spanish Armada with Sir Francis Drake in 1588 which laid the ground work for British exploration and settlement in the New World which is the North American Continent. England finally became a world player during this time.

Since Queen Elizabeth I was now the leader of the Anglican Church, she had even more power over the people than she had as just a monarch. She now had been ordained by God to govern the moral principles of people. She could excommunicate people and declare their divine fate. Basically she could send people to hell if they weren't doing what she thought they should be doing. Eternal damnation is worse than any earthly punishment and I think you would agree the Queen gained absolute power over every aspect of her subject's lives.

Fast forward, England was under strict Anglican doctrine, people who strayed from this doctrine were persecuted in some way. The Puritans, Lutherans, and other smaller religious sects who did not follow or agree with the monarchs role in religion, were persecuted in England. After the success of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia, religious dissenters were sent to the New World to start a new life.

Fast foward, the founding fathers wanted a nation in which no monarchy could develop and they definately did not want a theocracy. The founding fathers felt that a monarch would destroy the freedom of the individual and a free society. It was important that people have freedom of religion. It is our basic right as an American and has been described as the reason the country was founded. You can't have freedom of religion if there is someone telling you how and what to worship, and you can't have a free society if people like Rob Parsley are telling you what to believe, how to think, how to vote, and that God will curse you if you don't vote Republican.

The founding fathers were interested in setting up a FREE society based on the power of the people and their GOD, whomever that God is. The founding fathers wanted a society were man/woman could pursue his/her own destiny based on their own beliefs handed to them by their creator. The word creator is ambiguous because in America we are free to worship as we please.

God is the creator of this universe and all that is in it. God needs no political party! If God were to have a political party hardly no one in this country would be apart of it because it would be fair to ALL people, animals, and everything is this universe that GOD made! God sent is son Jesus to teach fairness and love. Jesus died for our sins, and there is still racisim, deliberate unfairness, murder, sadness, and depression in this world that is so rampant its pathetic!!!!

Rob Parsely needs to work on the work of helping people love others and do God's work for all people, and stop trying to ascertain absolute power and dominion over people by trying to politicize the Bible and then twist history by saying the founding fathers wanted to protect the church from government by having the separation of Church and State. This man is insane, and this out of control religious rhetoric needs to STOP!!
Posted By Madeliene Bolden; Atlanta, Georgia : 3:56 PM ET
When a Hindu is greeted with catcalls and called an 'abomination' on the floor of the Senate, religious activists show themselves unable to live in a pluralistic society without attempting to force their views on people who don't share them.

There are three different constituencies being protected by the first amendment. Churches are protected from government interference, the government is protected from religious interference, and the citizenry is protected from both government AND religious interference in their spiritual lives.

I am not willing to give up the latter so that people who already have FAR too much voice in our polity can feel 'included'. They can not be trusted not to try to enshrine their particular myths into law.
Posted By Arachnae, Sterling VA : 3:59 PM ET
Wow tough topic...but since everyone prays to basically the same or form of God then what's the harm in dicussing religion related issues? At least there would be talk which is better than ignorance.
Posted By Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 4:10 PM ET
Honestly, I wouldn't even begin to know or interpret what the framers of the Constitution had in mind about the influence of religion in politics. What I do know is that when religion is allowed to influence political decisions too much, we end up slashing the rights of women and involving ourselves in other conflicts we have no business being involved in. And this doesn't only apply to Christian beliefs; people of all religious affiliations tend to believe that they're right and everyone else if wrong. And the reality one REALLY knows who is right and who is wrong. So, consequently, what's the point? If you can't simply be a good human being without an incentive and a reward at the end of your life, what have you really accomplished? I try to live by the Golden Rule and I am not "religious" but I believe I have a very strong faith and belief that God exists. So, to answer your question, I don't believe that religion should be involved in politics or government because there are too many variations on it, which probably wasn't the case over 200 years ago when our forefathers were escaping from religious persecution. You have to apply modern situations to that question.
Posted By Debbie, Denham Springs, LA : 4:11 PM ET
When it comes to politics, churches are seen as institutions with contingencies and fiscal benefits according to which way the political wind is blowing.

On the other side of the isle, churches are bodies of individuals working together in faith for humankind. When churches become political, it becomes an agenda and not a movement based on faith.

Even so, I don't believe religious communities will have less influence on the government; it may just go underground. That it itself is disturbing because it provides an "atmosphere of unaccountability" with religious leaderships manipulating the word of God.

By one religion having a claim on the power of a government, that country could become very dangerous (i.e. Iran). To believe that our forefathers of late 1700's meant for the US government to be strictly Christian today in 2007 is ludicrous. By the way, our forefathers also endorsed slavery.

As a Christian, I make a plea to these individuals to look beyond their institution and see a broader perspective of the world and the walk of Christ.
Posted By Liz, Milwaukee, Wisconsin : 4:17 PM ET
I believe very strongly in the separation between church and state, especially because so many right-wingers misinterpret God to be about hate.

I hate it when people assume that you can't be a Democrat and religious; we can, and we choose not to impose our religious beliefs on others.

This new Supreme Court worries the heck out of me. Let the incredibly incomprehensible rulings they are passing down be a lesson to us all: electing a right-wing nut job can have serious ramifications for years to come. After all, Roberts and Alito are still young. I am praying for the good health of all of the justices, especially until a new president is sworn in. They use "strict constructionist" to color their interpretation of the Constitution (and tell me why things shouldn't be reinterpreted in a modern context?), not to mention the 10 Commandments.

Also, I find it funny/sad that Bush and company invoke Jesus when their policies would really tick him off. Remember, he was the Prince of Peace (read: no invasion of Iraq), and he actually cared about poor people (read: pretty much every Bush policy). Jesus walked on water, and wouldn't have ignored folks as they started drowning in their homes (too bad the Bush admin didn't wan't to emulate Noah BEFORE and after Katrina actually struck). And aren't REAL "family values" about making sure people have a living wage, healthcare, and education, not to mention the right to love whom they love?

Although at least one right-wing Republican has been able to emulate Jesus in one way: Senator David Vitter. After all, JC hung out with prostitutes, too...
Posted By Norah, West Chester, PA : 4:30 PM ET
Carol, in Denver, states that strong believers are fanatics who try to push their beliefs on others.

I am a strong believer, I will never deny that. I will discuss religion with you I WILL NOT ARGUE religion. You have the FREEDOM of your faith, as was granted, with many other freedoms,by our country from the start.

Forcing beliefs seems mostly to be done (in our country)by those with a total lack of belief in God. If you do not want your child, to say the Lord's Prayer, fine, no one will force her to. Don't try to force me NOT to.

I would still like the Ten Commandments placed in their original locations, before one brave politician gave up his "career" rather than bend to the minority.

I DO NOT find reassurance in the sudden expression of faith by many of the Dems, (and I was one) any more than that Bush and cohorts were always spouting. You lied, sport, I know it the world knows it, God knows it and he isn't happy.

A man is judged by his acts of kindness, his deep love and compassion for his fellow man. His honesty and integrity. Strength in his Faith.

I haven't been to church in a building that is known as a "church", in many years,yet I consider myself a pretty good Christian It states in the Bible that wherever three or more are gathered in my name. that place becomes a "church"

When our country was solidified and documents written there was basically only one church, it is only rightful each of us be FREE to find our own.

Just remember: Don't Live For Tommorow, For Tomorrow NEVER Comes!

Next month my sermon will be~~~~~~!

Posted By Maggie, Grain Vallry MO : 4:30 PM ET
While I don't think that the government should be run by any one religious group -- it is the government after all and not the church -- I don't see how a person of faith could separate their faith from their politics.

The issues that swing elections are the the ones that we hold closest to our hearts. Isn't that by definition also where we hold our faith?

On a individual level, faith and politics are yet another chicken and egg scenario. Which came first? Did the politics dictate the faith or the faith the politics? It's unlikely that a person could hold one set of beliefs in church on Sunday and another altogether on election day. (Unless of course they're running for office at the time.)
Posted By Claire Colvin, White Rock, BC : 4:37 PM ET
Hi Tom,
In my opinion, we need balance. I'm a Catholic and my faith is mine to practice. Your faith or lack of any, is yours and should be honored.
Will we bring different views to the table of government? Of course we will. But that's what being an adult, tackling issues and solving them with compromise is all about. Just my opinion. Take Care
Posted By Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 4:44 PM ET
Note to presidential candidates: Just because you're a Christian or proclaim to be Christian doesn't mean that you're more capable of leading the country than everybody else. So don't use religion to sway my vote. I can say this because I'm a Christian. Enough said.
Posted By Lilibeth, Edmonds, WA : 4:53 PM ET
First and foremost, I would like to say that I am so tired of hearing the idea that only Republicans can be men and women of faith. That idea is completely absurd! A Democrat can be just as faithful to God as a Republican can. I'm not quite sure where this idea even came from. The Bible never says the Republican Party is God's "chosen party". In John 3:16 it says that "God so loved the World..." I believe that when the Bible says the world, that includes both Democrats and Republicans alike, he doesn't discriminate, so where did this misconception come from? I'm not sure. However, I was thinking about this the other day. There are so many different denominations within The Church...there are Nazarenes, Baptists, Assembly of God, Lutherans and the list goes on and on. They are all considered The Church of Christ however based on a certain interpretation of what the Bible says, one makes a choice on whether to worship at a Baptist church or a Methodist one. The same concept applies to being a Democrat or a Republican; it is based on an interpretation of a party platform that determines what is best for our country.
Posted By Jessica, Bourbonnais Illinois : 4:56 PM ET
Separation of church and state is there for a reason because your god may not be my god and religion has no business dictating social, economic or polical policies or else we would live in a theocracy.
Posted By Michele M, Reston, VA : 4:59 PM ET
If we have separation of church and state in this country, why is Christmas a federal holiday?

I get very nervous when politicians pander to the religious right. I don't care whether they go to church or accept Jesus as their Lord. It is completely irrelevant to the work a good president does. Our current president believes he is divinely inspired, and look where that got us.
Posted By Barbara, Culver City, CA : 4:59 PM ET
It's interesting how many politicians who speak of God and morality have been caught in compromising situations. I have no desire to hear their religious views--it has no bearing on how well they'll be able to run the country.
Posted By Fay, Vacaville, CA : 5:55 PM ET
If I wanted the Church to run my government, I'd denounce my American citizenship and move to Vatican City although I sometimes think I gave my government to organized religion right here in America seven years ago when I voted for W the first time around.

In January 2001 I had the opportunity to participate in the National Right to Life March. I was pretty hyper-Catholic back then when it came to abortion. It was the weekend of W's first inauguration. We had so much hope because the man with our cause in his heart was in office (religion running the country). We knew he'd change things through the veto, through appointing justices, through his policies. Over 3000 of our soldiers are dead because that Christian can't let his pride go (one of my childhood friends is one of them). The Supreme Court in essence just blew over forty years of attempting to integrate schools and give all kids an opportunity to learn to work together reagardless of skin color and socioeconomic status. We're at the highest terrorism risk level we've been at since 9/11 (so something is obviously not working gang). Our public health programs based on the religious right (abstinence education and limited needle exchange programs) are going to cost us precious lives before it's all over. And I've watched his policies (and those of his party) relating to homosexuality continue to disenfranchise and destroy people who have just as much of a right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and equal protection and privilege under the law as any other human being on this planet. I won't even get into the debacle of what Washington didn't do after Katrina and Rita to help the states affected. No human being should be required to endure what they have for almost two years now (because even those who are "ok" really never will be the same).

I have watched this country I love get worse and worse thanks to one man and his party's religious agenda. I don't know about anyone else, but this Epsicopalian has had about all she can take. I have no problem with the values of love, peace, helping, caring, sharing, and forgiving forming a core basis of our government. I have no problem with letting a Higher Power guide politicians in their decisions. But when that Higher Power hurts others in the process, well I have to wonder how pure and good that Power actually is. I have to wonder if they're using religion just to grab a vote or if core values actually dictate their daily living and they're too chicken to do more than play the DC game. After being burned with W, I think I'm more inclined to listen to the one who talks the talk less and walks the actual walk more. Now, if I could only figure out who that person might be...
Posted By Tammy C., Berwick, LA : 6:03 PM ET
Yikes, religion and politics on one blog. It could be dangerous. I am a practicing Christian, but I'm pretty liberal. I'm also not really evangelical, unless you count the little people I teach. I see the simple parts of this. The Bible and our laws follow a lot of the same ideas. Don't lie, steal, murder, covet, be kind to others, help your neighbor, be like Jesus. People interpret these documents differently and try to impose them on others. That usually starts conflicts. Like the Pirates say "they're just guidelines"! I think we basically just want a government we can trust. It would be nice for the next president to be intelligent, also. I've enjoyed this series. Good luck AC, on Monday night. I'll be watching.
Posted By Kathy Chicago,Il : 6:05 PM ET
I WAS wanting to say something profound, but, much of what I believe has been said. The idea of ANY religious entity controlling any part of our government is a horrifying thought.

Zealots, fundamentalist, evangelicals of any denomination or faith feel that THEIR way is the only way and that anyone believing otherwise is a heratic. Does this sound like radical Islam??? Both want total control of all life on earth.

BTW, the Ten Commandments are the commandments of God presented by Moses; not by Christians, protestants, or evangelicals!

Religion should not be the concern of the government. Government must be kept out of the hands of ANY religious sect.
Posted By Tom, Hideaway, TX : 6:07 PM ET
A little addition in response to Charlotte from Stockton.

I am not referring to the base of your comment, just a line about Protestants!

Tell someone you are a Baptist and they will almost inevitably hear "Protestant"

Protestants were groups who litterally protested the religion in its entirety(?)
and formed their own base, therefore new religions were born.

Baptists were formed by the deciples, when Christ requested that John,(to become John The Baptist)did indeed baptize Christ in the river. Look how many forms of Baptists there are now!

I have no objection to being called a Protestant, just a little info no one seems to mention these days!

Thanks again,
Posted By Maggie, GVMO : 6:22 PM ET
I personally believe that one problem is the belief that Christians think only Christians have values and morals....
Posted By Dan Birmingham, AL : 6:25 PM ET
First of all, I disagree with the point that the overwhelming majority of Americans are Christians. Just because you believe in Jesus does not make you one. (See James 2:19) "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch". (Acts 11:26) A Christian must first be a disciple of Jesus. If you are not a disciple, you are not a Christian. You can't be a Christian if you blatantly disobey the teachings of the bible and of Jesus. "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples, then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free". (John 8:31b-32) Unfortunately, there are not a majority of Americans who meet this standard. That is why we have high levels of teen pregnancy (which I have heard is getting slightly better), and our media bombards us with filth, in print, TV, Hollywood and over the radio. No, there are not that many Christians. We also have abortion which is quite possibly the greatest abomination that has EVER been perpetrated on the face of the earth. The death toll in America for abortion (upwards of 45 million) approaches Stalin's if it is not worse. This is carried out under the guise of "A woman's Right to Choose". That is what I would call GA-BIGE! The woman and her mate had the right to choose not to have sex. In a nation where the majority were Christians, atrocities would not be carried out against our most innocent citizens in the name of personal freedom.
As far as Christian's being involved in politics, neither party suits me, so I am an independent. I consider myself a democrat at heart, but the democrat party is not the party that it was 60 years ago or even 40 years ago. Even the Republican party is to the left of where the democrat party was. Most Republicans are liberals, and many are socialists. Most democrats are socialists, and many are communists. No, I am a conservative that believes in protecting the environment, but not in an anti-capitalist way like the environmentalists. I am a Christian who wishes that everyone would be, yet respects that everyone has to make their own choice, and I believe that in the end the truth will win out. I believe that if we do not rediscover our morals, the end of our nation is near, because our enemies can see that we are divided. "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall." (Luke 11:17b)
Posted By Nestor, Austin, TX : 6:43 PM ET
The "God" card is one of the most controversial ones. Although many of us are christians, our country is comprised of many other religions. The candidates walk a tightrope in garnering votes and angering others. It's understandable that a candidate would talk about how his or her personal faith and religion has helped them in difficult times. However,hopefully most voters can tell when it's disingenuous and politically motivated.It will be amusing to see if lightning interrupts any more of the candidates.
Posted By Carol B., Frederick, MD : 6:55 PM ET
Glad to see the comments based on good solid historical understanding; how refreshing and encouraging.

I live in a part of the South where if you aren't a certain type of Christian and Republican you are doomed. I'm tired of that - tired of the arrogance of the mindset and the intolerance towards diversity that it signifies.

Keep religion out of politics; the Puritans came for religious freedom but turned out it was only freedom to be a Puritan. Their society produced the Salem witch trials, banished Roger Williams to Rhode Island, and Anne Hutchinson to the same area where she and her family were killed by Indians. Both banishments were because they dared to be different than their Puritan leaders of their church and state had dictated in the 1600s. Thankfully by the 1700s the founding fathers recognized the dangers of mixing church and state and set up our government to allow people to choose the religion and beliefs they want, but not to allow the government to dictate what one should be believe. I am thankful to them for that and hope that it persists.

When the candidates get up and make religious exhortations I am reminded of the Pharisee in the temple praying loud so everyone could see how good a person he was. While in the corner a poor man whispered in humility his prayers - I trust the candidates with humility that don't use religion as a selling point for their election. In this day and age it is getting hard to find one.
Posted By Annie Kate, Birmingham AL : 7:51 PM ET
Oh come on, Tom!

If any of those snakes have religion, I'll eat my hat. Most politicians make a big photo-op out of going to church. If they really listened to the services maybe we wouldn't be where we are at today with the wars, terrorism, and all the other issues pressing in today's world.
Posted By Kelly, San Francisco : 8:02 PM ET
As a Christian who did not want Anything to do with politics; my understanding was “choose who you will serve” and I did not understand at that time you could serve Jesus and operate in the political system at the same time. I too believed in the separation of Church and State; because one seems so contrary to the other.

I was ignorant to what God was actually trying to show me in growing in my relationship with him and being a force (since the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take by force) and light in a fallen world. That as his, we never lose him in that thing that he directs in…

And he (Jesus) has directed me in understanding that I can operate in voting my conscience in what I hold true to his directions in how we are to live and maintain our lives to be a light brought from darkness of the very things that seemed like liberty that were actually bondages.

Hence the complaint that Christians should not use the Bible as a guide for voting… And people believe we are trying to control others when we do this very thing we believe to be RIGHT.

If enough people of any group could gather together to agree on an issue and pass it because they believe it to be the right thing what makes it any different for Christian to do the same. I will tell you what makes it different; People play the Separation Church card so to speak against us, but we are citizen and as so we have the right to exercise it and without fear of it not being right with our Lord.

We as his children as it states in his word (Bible) will always be hated by the world because we are not the worlds; we belong to him and the world knows that. So... even when it concern other subjects we are persecuted and hated and we know why, these things we do we do not do for the acceptance of man but for the glory of God in our walks that his light may shine in the darkness. We do not make the increase he does; we sow the seeds and act in obedience to his direction even in the face of adversity and judgments of man. Hence Rod Parsley and his teachings….

Lets be honest the Bible was not written for those who remain in the darkness it was given to those who came out of darkness by the acceptance of him, Jesus the Christ for direction.

The Bible is not for the world it is for the children of the kingdom and all who want to be part of his kingdom by his, Jesus the Christ, Spirit.

I find it amusing some times when someone who does not have a clue or a relationship with Jesus has not even sought after one to say to a child of the king – you are not right. First you have to know what is right to know what is not.

And some Christian do not follow the Bible the way Jesus tells us to live or are not grown enough as myself at the time earlier mentioned to know that the are not and that operating in the mind of self in anything is not his will; and we as his children are to do all things to edify the Church that he is the Head of and not operate in our will even though we are given free will this shows the obedience to his call!

That is what a Christian is! CNN; To answer your question from early broadcast.

Someone who has been delivered from darkness / themselves and has accepted Jesus as Lord and it is a growing process we all fall shot of God’s glory yet some do not even know how they are doing this or why – That gets back to the Awesome Preacher in question and in this situation it is Jesus – it is he who is imparting a direction to a servant, called, anointed, authoritative Man of God….Rod Parley.

This is what I know to be true from confirmation of the Holy Spirit that Pastor Rod Parsley is truly called by God to Pastor – there are some out in the world that are not, but self proclaimed, self centered, and self motivated …People pleasing humanist that would not follow God’s word if it offended someone; in other words from God own word, wolf in sheep’s clothing; they are a somewhat “bonfires of the vanities” so to speak.

To speak out to the lost world and to be a guide to those God calls to hear him in the Church this he is doing for those who have hear to hear let them hear. He just happens to be using the world system in media, CNN, Fox, etc.. medium to do this.

Should we be double minded in the practice of politics and voting as Christians to please the world, come on… we all know a double minded man, women, institution, etc… is unstable in all their ways. How can we as a people who do not operate in truth and stability expect to have it…?

Thank you again, CNN for your time.
God’s blessing on understanding it. As far as God’s party – God owns it All!!! He ROCKS!!!

In His Love, Jesus Lives!
Jill Carr
Posted By Jill Carr, Ypsilanti : 8:03 PM ET
To Madeline in Atlanta, GA:
Your history lesson on the monarch of England and our American forefathers' plan for the separation of church and state....ROCKS!
Posted By Liz, Milwaukee, Wisconsin : 8:38 PM ET
I would like to point out that although both parties are trying to reach out to the faithful, its a selected population of the faithful. It seems as though the religious communities the parties reach out to are mainly Christian and Catholic. I personally am disappointed by that, although these are religions that most of the candidates subscribe to, if they are making a conscious effort to reach out to the "faithful" they should be more open minded. If religion is going to play a role in politics, which no question it does, it needs to be more progressive then it is right now.
Posted By Afroz from California : 9:12 PM ET
Oh, come on, guys.

Haven't we heard enough about religion and politics? Why do you keep giving this so much attention?

How about some focus on the people in this country who believe in the separation of church and state? What about the people who think that a person's religion has no bearing on whether you will be a good President?

Spending all this air time on religion only obscures the real issues (and where the politicians stand on them).

Save the "God talk" for the 700 Club - let's hear about the news!
Posted By Erin, Baton Rouge, LA : 9:21 PM ET
Like many others, I also believe strongly in the separation of church and state. It absolutley scares me to think about religion controlling our government.

Great blog Tom, I have really enjoyed reading all the comments.
Posted By Haley Auburn, AL : 9:22 PM ET
Religion should have no influence at all, with any type of government what so ever. I'm only 17 and I have the right mind to make up my own mind, and religion has no effect on my current and future decision's I will make. It is also the same consept when I turn 18 and vote for the better representative.
Posted By Devon, Lakeland Florida : 12:11 AM ET
I am 18 year old active Christian who strongly beleives in God. I grew up in a Protestant church and was taught the same as many young people were. The difference? I recognize that having the church and state influence one another would be a huge mistake that would divide this great nation.

Not everyone believes in the same way. And the manner that policies should be handled is on what is best for the nation as a whole? When religion comes into play this can easily be confused because religious beliefs cannot be proven with evidence or facts. Thus making it easy for lawmakers and politicians to be biased towards a religion.

In the end, America would become exactly like the Middle East and soon enough these same "Christians" doing "God's will" would go to where the bible says God told Moses and Joshua to invade the land and "kill" all that worship other gods. And all what would be left is a divided nation that would need U.N. aid in becoming a peaceful nation once again.

I am not anti-Christian. I personally have a close relationship with my God. But I am also a very proud American that does not want to see my people, whom are my brothers and sisters in Christ, divided because we could not see the road up ahead. History has taught us and the present is showing us the aftermath of religious beliefs entering our "system of laws and justice."
Posted By Abraham; Perth Amboy, NJ : 12:12 AM ET
Per Wikipedia: The United States Constitution was written in 1787, adopted in 1788, and took effect in 1789.

It is amazing to me that a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist minister in the early 1800's, which offered comfort by stating that the government would never adopt a policy of supreme demoniminationalism, could be used as a tool against religion altogether. It is as if with all of this advanced internet technology, people choose to be blind when it comes to the truth of origin of the "separation of church and state".

Sadly, this country which was founded as a haven for religious freedom has become its own religious persecutor.

I believe that religious communities should absolutely have more influence on the government. Am I the only one who has noticed that as God/Christ is being stripped from this country, the more outlandishly hateful people become?

Unfortunately, it is true that Christianity is highjacked by over zealous individuals who have changed the message of the gospel into either a "get rich quick scheme" or is translated as "hate speech" against individuals instead of against actions. In actuality, the core attributes of the gospel are about love and respect and decent morals/values.

All individuals continually carry an internal value system, therefore I believe that the more government officials that have Christ-centered values, the better.

The only candidates that I am even considering are anti-abortion, but I believe the Republican party, as a whole, aligns with religious views.
Posted By Sheryl, Tucson, Arizona : 12:23 AM ET
religion should not mix with government. it would begin to influence then control it. when it controls it so many problems will arise. not all religions are the same and the government will become biased and other religions might feel oppressed since the dominant one is christianity. whaat about catholicism,islam,protestant etc. what about ppl who dont belive in god. this could result in a religious war then civil war
Posted By Kyle Ft.Defiance AZ : 1:28 AM ET
Tom, I really enjoy your reports on CNN. I have read all the comments on the Blog and found them very refreshing. I have been amused by comments about Hillary and her religious beliefs. I agree with the person who stated that Methodists tend to be viewed as less religious as the Southern Baptists. I believe we are in the mess we have now by those of religious fervor. Religion should not have any control in our government.
Posted By Mary,Wallowa, Oregon : 2:05 AM ET
If evangelicals like Rod Parsley actually knew anything about American, European, and British history, they would not make such foolish and false arguments. John Locke, whose ideas influenced our Founders and shaped our Constitution, was himself a devout Protestant, but he knew firsthand what happened when church and state were not separated: Catholic monarchs massacred Protestants, & Protestant monarchs executed Catholics (google these terms: Mary Tudor, "Bloody Mary"; John Locke; the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre; the revocation of the Edict of Nantes; Henry VIII; Sir Thomas More). Thomas Jefferson considered Locke one of the three greatest men who ever lived. Jefferson wrote letters to the scientist Sir Joseph Priestly about the need for public education in science (at the University of Virginia, for example) and the dangers of religious zealotry. We should look forward, Jefferson declared, not backward at the ideas and beliefs of people who lived two thousand years ago. Other founding fathers were also secularists. George Washington, a Freemason, attended church but refused to take communion. Tom Paine, whose pamphlets inspired the Continental Army (Washington distributed them to the troops) wrote a famous attack on religion in general and Christianity in particular. I could go on ...
Posted By Carol, Pittsburgh, PA : 3:45 AM ET
I have really enjoyed this series. It has brought up many interesting issues and it is hard to not get off onto tangents as it is so multi-faceted. First, I'd like to say that I am an Evangelical Christian, by God's definition, not necessarily by those of an "organized religion" even though I attend and am very active in my church. The true definition of a Christian is by God's Word - trying to be Christ-like, not man's label - which is usually sweeping and broad when you are talking about ANY group - religious or not. It is important only to know what God says - that is the true way to know when any preacher or person is sharing God's message - you have to know what God' Word says for yourself before you make any judgements. Not what you've heard in church (someone may be falsely teaching), not by a news report or tv show, not by what your neighbor tells you. It astounds me that so many people attribute things to God, Jesus and Christianity that is not even in the Bible, which of course is our guide. People in general love to have deeply philisophical conversations about what they believe having never really investigated for themselves what any one religion believes and what they base it on or reading any of their basis - Bible, Quoran, etc. Many people develop their beliefs by their feelings, not even concrete evidence. Basically what I am saying is that lumping all persons in any given religion or group is no different than what the secular world does and that is wrong to do no matter who you are. Jesus himself didn't like the "organized religion" of the time and rebuked them. He took criticism and ultimately died for those that many of us today wouldn't associate with. Believers of any religion congregate with other believers of like mind to learn more about their beliefs and strengthen their faith. That all being said brings me to my second point - I do not want ANY candidate from EITHER party to USE religion to try to get my vote. Actually, I don't want any candidates USING ANYTHING AT ALL - the truth about what they believe would be just great! I would like to judge each candidate by what he or she really believes instead of what is "in" to talk about. Which brings me to my last point - intolerance. There has been much talk on this series linking Evangelicals and Intolerance - being an evangelical myself, I know that many of us deserve that title, but just as many more do not. We are known for shooting our own wounded at times. However, we are commanded to love the sinner and hate the sin - and sometimes that is not a "PC" idea. As true Christians, we are commanded to love everyone as God loves us - but teaching against the sin is important also. That is also why I love Tammy Faye Messner - she loves everyone while not condoning the behavior. Many of my Evangelical friends would not agree with me about her, but to me she is the definition of a true Christian. The bottom line is that all Evangelicals are not "intolerant" which goes back to my generalization of any group comment earlier. However, I will say that we tolerate many things in this country to our detriment. Just as many people do not want my views "shoved down their throat" I as well do not want theirs shoved down mine. If we are going to be truly tolerant, then we are all going to have to let some things by that we don't agree with at some point in our daily lives because there will never be a time when we all agree on anything! I will continue to go to movies I enjoy and try to ignore the "GD" references peppered throughout as long as I can still say "One nation under God" while someone else chooses to refrain from saying it. EVERYONE needs to be more tolerant, not just any one group. As I said, it is hard to discuss this topic of politics and religion without touching on the many facets that it brings up, but you have sure done a great job with this series.
Posted By Lisa, Lewisburg, WV : 10:17 AM ET
If you look at history we as a christian people have gotten it all wrong, God the Father never meant for his people to use violence to spread his message of hope and peace. All Jesus Christ said for us to do is "Go and spread the Gospel". Some will hear and believe some may not, and we are to respect those choices in the same manner that God doesn't force His will upon people, in the same breathe we tell the whole truth of the Gospel the good and the bad that will come from our choices in life. God never told us to go on a crusade, or have inquisitions to convert people...Just go and spread the "good news" of the gospel. There is nothing to fear about God and Christ and christianity when we have a passion for people and not our own agenda's.
Posted By Victor, Fairfield, Ca. : 10:33 AM ET
Perhaps the appropriate question should be "Which party is Allah's party?"
Posted By Perry, Dallas, Texas : 11:48 AM ET
To follow along the lines of Madeliene Bolden's comments, if anyone cares to study a bit of history about the American Revolutionary war, you can make an educated guess what the founding father's of this country intended with the First Amendment to the Constitution, you need look no further than the Treaty of Libya, signed in Tripoli on 4 November 1796, and later ratified by the Senate:

Signed in Tripoli 4 November 1796 the Treaty of Libya states in Article II:

>"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on >the Christian Religion ..."

Under Article VI, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States of America, Treaties once ratified by the Senate become “Supreme Law of the Land”:

>This constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all >treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme >law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or >laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

The writer of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States made a statement that has become a famous quote:

>The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it >does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my >pocket nor breaks my leg.

Thomas Jefferson's views were fundamental in drafting of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America states:

>'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free >exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people >peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.'
The very idea that there should be a religious test for the Presidential Candidates is Anti American at best, and some might find this idea to be Treasonous!

Roland Behunin
Compatriot, Sons of the American Revolution
Posted By Roland Behunin, Farmington, Utah, Compatriot Sons of the American Revolution : 12:15 PM ET
Thank God for our freedom to choose what religion we practice, or if we do. I am in agreement with those who say that organized religion scares me. God is the cornerstone of my life; not religion. You can be religious about anything, including evil. A person's relationship with Jesus Christ is the basis for where he or she will spend in eternity. As for politics, even though no one is free of sin, someone who maintains their faith is more likely to live in the way that they talk about. I look much more closely at a candidates profession and sincerity of faith than I do at political views on publicly watched subjects, i.e. economy, foreign policy, abortion, to name a few. That is why we currently have the best president in my lifetime. It is also what I will base my next vote on.
Posted By Neil, Indianapolis, IN : 2:08 PM ET
Tom, I love your reports, they are
filled with humor, facts, and always make you think. I try never
to let my faith dicate my voting,
for those that do just look at the
mess we are in now. I would just for once like to have a truly honest, hard working, fair minded
person ho truly wants to do what is best for our country person running for president.

Also, I know you were not part of the dancing Larry, but I loved it. I have never laughed so hard
sort of racing but entertaining.
I needed that after the day I had
Posted By patti-ga : 2:11 PM ET
I do not think God has a party! Rod Parsley should check out Matthew 22:21... Jesus said, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
And John 18:36... Jesus said, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight...
And Acts 5:29... Peter and other apostles said, We ought to obey God other than men.
Rebecca F. Vancouver, WA
Posted By Rebecca F. Vancouver, WA : 2:33 PM ET
The following quotes of famous Americans have been taken from John McLaughlin of "The McLaughlin Group" and from "Bill Moyer's Journal," both of which air on PBS.
Barry Goldwater, 9/16/81 ; "There is no position on which people are more immoveable as their religeous beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100%.
If you disagree with these religous groups on a particular moral issue, they complain and threaten you with a loss of money, or votes, or both.
I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers, across this country, telling me, as a citizen, that if I want to be a moral person, I MUST believe in A, B, C, or D. Just Who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry, as a legislator, who must endure the threats of every religeous group who thinks it has some God-given right to control my vote on every roll call in the senate.
I am warning them today! I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate THEIR moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'"
In 1994 Goldwater wrote: "The Conservative movement was founded on the simple tenet that people should have the right to live their lives as they please, so long as they are not harming others."
George Washington (The Treaty of Tripoli- Article Xl, 1797, signed by John Adams); "As the government of the United States is NOT, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion...It is declared by the parties that no pretext, arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."
McLaughlin; The founding fathers were insistant that the states remain NEUTRAL towards organized religion.
Thomas Jefferson; "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."
James Madison; "During almost 15 centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been it's fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.
Jesus Christ : "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and render unto God that which is God's."
Jesus also said :"My Kingdom is NOT of this world."
My personal observation: on the web I came across "Christian Coalition" to be defined as, "founded in 1989 by Pat Robertson to give Christians a voice in government." This definition is a deliberate lie, since Christians have, since the Declaration of Independance, ALWAYS had a "voice in government", since practically EVERY government official, legislator, President, and Supreme Court Justice... has been a Christian, and that IS, indeed, a very LOUD voice!

Lanny Reichert
Park City, KS
Posted By Lanny Reichert : 4:03 PM ET
I don't trust non-religous candidates. I figure if a man or woman doesn't have a strong moral upbringing based on religious teachings, they will be making decisions from a political standpoint, not a moral one.
Posted By Steve- Peoria, IL : 4:17 PM ET
So, does anyone honestly think that if the Democratic nominee for '08 was Sen. Harry Reid, who is a Mormon, the Democrats would say , "Oh, no, we can't vote for a Mormon"? Don't think so.
Posted By xtina- Chicago, IL : 4:23 PM ET
If you asked, say, Osama Bin Laden which party he'd like to see win the '08 Presidential election, which do you think he'd say? The party who stands up to his ilk and won't stand down against Islamic extremism until it's obliterated, or the party that closes its eyes to evil and wants to retreat within its borders and shirk away from conflict? The answer to Blogger Perry in TX is that the Democratic Party is Allah's party.
Posted By xtina - chicago IL : 5:06 PM ET
It cracks me up when people say they don't want any religious ideas in politics, yet the liberals don't think there's anything wrong with Muslims getting footbaths to practice their religious rituals at airports. The ACLU and CAIR defend Muslim footbaths, but want to strip the Ten Commandments from public spaces.
Posted By xtina - chicago IL : 5:09 PM ET
Religion is a frightening thing. It can be peaceful, loving and compassionate when it chooses. And it can be as brutal, violent and deadly as a pack of wild dogs. Much of the world's troubles revolve around religion; it is the number one divisive force on earth.

I want leaders who are honest and truthful, and believe in service to our country. People with the qualifications don't want the job because of the caustic atmosphere that surrounds those in power. And the people who are in the running will say and do whatever it takes to win. The American people are left to choose not the one who is best for the job, but the one who is the least evil.

Churches prey on those who are indecisive, illiterate, or just plain brainwashed. All religions fit the definition of cult: "a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents".

Cults should be allowed no influence in government. Government is for "the people" - not for special groups of people.
Posted By Deb, Richmond VA : 5:53 PM ET
This is to xtina in Chicago.
I don't think that Republicans or Democrats want Muslim extremists blowing people or buildings up or spreading their brand of hatred throughout the world. I think that if anybody wanted that they would be out of their minds.

Do you really think that Democrats want Muslim extremists blowing up Westerners because of their out of control faith in Allah? If you do then, with all due respect to you, you are just plain WRONG!

Democrats and Republicans are looking at the radical Muslim problem in two different ways. Whether you like it or not the Islamic faith is a real faith that has been around for millenia and there are people who practice it that are good, law abiding, religious people, who would never think of using their religion to hurt anyone. You can't just discriminate against all Muslims because there are groups of Muslims who take their beliefs way overboard! You have to bring justice to the people who are harming others, because they have no right to do that.

Republicans want to fight it out till the end of time, Democrats want the Americans to pull out and let the Muslims fight their own fight. To keep it really honest, WE DON'T KNOW WHO IS RIGHT. Only history and hindsight will give us that answer.

I don't think that there should be any religious anything (no foot baths or Ten Commandments for that matter) in an airport unless you want to pray before you get on an airplane. In that case you would need synagogues, mosques, temples, and churches and you would need Christain footbaths for the Primitive Baptists, you might not know anything about them, but they wash their feet at every Sunday Service.

I think that the primary focus of an airport is to get people from point A to point B on a plane with all their baggage. The airport has a hard time doing that most of the time and to add religion would just make the planes even later and make more baggage get lost.

So xtina, youre a smart person, use your intelligence a little better than you are doing right now.
Posted By Mary Williamson; Atlanta, Georgia : 6:41 PM ET
From 7/19/07 broadcast of AC360

PARSLEY: If you sing "Onward Christian Soldier" in your Sunday school class, all of a sudden, folks want to label you as a jihadist and say that you're fighting for a theocracy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

FOREMAN: Maybe not, but Parsley is no agent of tolerance. He's railed against homosexuals, denounced Islam as a faith that fully intends to conquer the world. His activist Christianity is hardly one-size-fits-all.

Oh Tommmm…. PLEASE!!! Get you facts right!! And learn some truth!!
First off this comment at the end of last night segment was totally judgmental, and slanting, and by the way I’ve noticed a lot of that on CNN this year concerning Christians… SLANT, SLANT, SLANT, in the negative I might add…Not appealing and Not a good thing for a non opinion supposedly Media form.

Secondly, I added your comment along with this to explain your error… Pastor Rod Parsley operates in the Spirit of Christian Love, were you say he is “no agent of tolerance” is usurped! Christian love is nothing but tolerant towards others; starting with loving your God first, then your neighbor as yourself and being good to those who persecute you & do all manner of evil towards; trusting God in it all. Tolerance to the world means compromise… Wrong!

Your comment concerning he “railed against homosexuals ” is not accurate, he rails against the demon of homosexuality, not the person, and he rails against all sin and demon associations that may be binding one from a true understanding and walk with the LORD JESUS.
He is by not means partial when it comes to railing.
And I thank God for him!!!

He has from my own knowledge promoted the youth Christians to rally around on the National “Come out Day” for the homosexuals at their local schools to stand in love in not allowing satan to harm them and to show the love of Christ towards them, even though he does not condone the sin, he loves the sinner. To bash him over hearing part of a service and not investigating the full measure of the man is SLANT…

Just because he is not your Yes Man to every perverted issue of the day does not mean he is intolerant.

Too not understand the full teachings of all Islam from the understanding that God gives his children you haven’t got a clue what the heaven or hell you are talking about. Your own broadcast tells the tales every night on the tube of your beloved Islam… Do you really believe if they were not kept from it they would not try to conquer the world? Shame on you, this is a Man of God… You are persecuting and judging without full understanding, but you are correct in one thing Christianity is not one size fits all as the world teaches the wide wicked ways, it is straight is the way and narrow is the gate to which some will not enter in; and Rod Parsley does not claim to make that decision but claims that Jesus the Christ does!

Thank you,
In His Love, JESUE RULES!!
Posted By Jill Carr, Ypsilanti, MI : 6:59 PM ET

James Madison, not Thomas Jefferson wrote the 1st Amendment that CONGRESS shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion NOR prohibiting the Free Exercise thereof..."

This was simply a compromise between states that HAD establishments of religion and those that did not. It was agreed not to have a denomination be the nationally endorsed one like the Church of England.

This was clear in the appeal of the Scopes Trial of 1925 when the Tennessee Supreme Court didn't overturn the lower court decision that the Butler Act mandating Creation be taught in the public schools. It said that the law had not violated the 1st Amendment "separation of church and state."

And why is it never brought out that after Jefferson's letter some 13 yrs after the Constitution, that he went to church in the Capitol Building?!

While people are free to believe what ever religion (or none)that they want,our laws are based upon God's laws.

The Constitution Party is the closest one to what the Founders stood for which is God's principles.
Posted By GaryH, Westminster, Maryland : 7:05 PM ET
To Deb, Richmond, VA:

Hear, hear! Very well said. My thoughts exactly.
Posted By Barbara, Culver City, CA : 7:31 PM ET
I would be suspicious of any politician who uses religion as a crutch. They have no internal moral compass. If there are any questions as to the truth of this statement look no further than the current coke snorting, drunk that is currently in the white house.
Posted By Chris, Portland, OR : 8:02 PM ET
It's so obvious when one listens to the political rants of the various religions that their beliefs come from the thoughts of men and have nothing to do with any god or so-called higher power.
The history of human religions is an embarrassment to anyone who can see beyond themselves. And as for morality their histories damn them forever!
Posted By Craig,Kalaheo,HI : 8:35 PM ET
It's so obvious when one listens to the political rants of the various religions that their beliefs come from the thoughts of men and have nothing to do with any god or so-called higher power.
The history of human religions is an embarrassment to anyone who can see beyond themselves. And as for morality their histories damn them forever!
Posted By Craig,Kalaheo,HI : 8:35 PM ET
I've truly had it up to the gills with fundamentalist claptrap. Jesus himself taught separation of church and state. Remember when his Apostles asked him about the image of Caesar on the coin of the realm? Ostensibly, they were asking him whether they should honor the kingdom of man or the kingdom of God. He answered that they should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto the Lord that which is the Lord's. Sounds pretty clear to me that he intended them to consider earthly kingdoms and the heavenly kingdom SEPARATELY! Trying to mix the two lessens the importance and effectiveness of both.

Look at what we're dealing with in our own government right now! There are people who truly believe they have a right to do anything they please - torture, spying on U.S. citizens, twisting scientific reports, shoving their beliefs on a woman's right to choose and the "gay agenda" down the throats of EVERYONE, not just their own base. They do these things because of self-righteousness, which Jesus called filthy rags. Last time I checked, this government was intended to be of the people, by the people, and for the people - not just for the fundamentalist fringe!

No, these people who insist they have a right to crow and bellow and pound the pulpit and Bible thump are no different than the Pharisees of the Bible, bleating how they're "not like other people." The message of the Lord is not advanced by their behavior. They are an embarrassment to His greatness because they drive away more people from His message than they'll ever draw to it.

This issue has a whole lot less to do with God than it has to do with these people's egos and need for attention. I wonder if God is pleased with the circuslike, self-righteous blather they claim to speak in His hame.

And if the media would quit pandering to their ill-founded belligerence, they'd quiet down before too long and just go back to being Christians. As it is, the media promotes their tendency to worship the FACT that they worship, rather than to simply worship. Every time they're given a platform on a television news program or a talk show, it's like another poke in the eye of God.

If all those who claim to have the mind of the Lord actually DID have the mind of the Lord, then surely we must deduce that the Lord is schizophrenic.
Posted By Sharon - Portola CA : 8:53 PM ET
We should vote for a candidate based on how he plans to improve
health care, education, social
security, gobal warming, care
of the elderly, the list goes on--
his religion shouldn't be the
front runner. A non-believer can
have morals you don't have to be
a christian to live an honorable
decent life.
Posted By Barbara-dalton ga : 11:56 PM ET
The reason the designers of the Constitution included separation of Church and State is because they knew that God was not good at politics. Who knows, God may have even whispered in Jefferson’s ear to write Him out of government. God isn’t good at politics. No “Thou shall” comes with an “except” at the end. It is either God’s way or the highway.

The problem is that his most devout followers spend so much time reading the good book that they develop the same habit. They don’t say “God might have meant this or God might have meant that , they tell us “this is what God says”. Once you get “People of God” in government, they listen to no one else and only appoint “Godly” people to positions of power.

The result is no diversity of opinion and no balanced view. George Bush is a “Godly man” from the “Godly Party”. He listens to no one and applies the Constitution as he sees fit. He has disenfranchised 51% of the people with total disregard. If you lack the benefits of diversity of opinion, you make bad decisions and God knows that George has made quite a few. The basic concept of voting demonstrates a belief in the benefits of diverse opinion. The proof of this benefit is also demonstrated in the fact that in order to gain more diversity the franchise was granted to black men and even women. But God, He needs to stay out of politics, because we need healthy discussion and debate and not someone telling us “Thou shall not”. “Thou shalls” are for our moral development and guidance, not for steering the ship of the Nation.
Posted By David C. - Sierra Vista, AZ : 12:36 PM ET
In reading the comments on this blog, I find it interesting that generally non-believers (with some exceptions) are using such harsh "hateful" language and generally Christians (with some exceptions) are using exposition or speaking from the side of Christ's message of love. What does that say about WHO is actually intolerant and spreading hate speech?

As a believer in how close we are to witnessing the fulfillment of end times prophesy, I can easily see how the world (especially America) is going to blame and persecute Christians for every horrible wrath that is to come, per the book of Revelation.
Posted By Sheryl, Tucson, AZ : 2:39 PM ET
I personally believe that if a candidate proclaims his Beliefs then Good! It tells me he is a brainwashed liar and shouldn't be voted for even fot the post of Dog Catcher. Keep your religion out of my politics and schools and I will not think in your church.
Posted By Barry Shepherd, Alaska : 6:27 PM ET
God does not have a party; God has sons and daughters. God’s children are in the two major parties and in the minor parties, politically speaking. The issue is not the party; it is the truth. There are three major arenas where the truth is the target. Law, Marketing, and Politics (LMP) are the arenas where it has been demonstrated that the end justifies the means. If truth must be a casualty – so be it.

The historical documents of our “founding fathers” prove that this country was founded on and with a total consideration to biblical principles. lists many signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution with their comments about the importance of including God in the management of the country. The constitution was written so the common layman would have understanding. Yet, today a layman does not stand a chance trying to exercise their rights as written in the constitution because of the interpretations of those “skilled” in LMP.

LMP is about leading the uninformed or the less informed where you want them with the perspective you want them to have. That is not operating in truth. Look at the titles for some of the legislation and compare the title to the empowerment contained in the legislation. “No Child Left Behind” is a good title. The funding empowerment, however, was not present. Instead a standard was established that taxed the education system and did not increase the core knowledge of the students.

Partial Birth Abortion is another LMP example. But I will not work through that one.

God does not have a party. God has children. There is no room in politics for more religious people, but there is plenty of room for more of God’s children. Where are the children who are operating in truth, in faith, and in prayer to God the Creator of Heaven and Earth?
Posted By Anthony C, Augusta, GA : 8:47 PM ET
So, to summarize many of the previous postings....if you are religious (Christian, Muslim, Jew, or anything else) you should not be entitled to vote because you are obviously brainwashed, and by voting according to your beliefs you are trying to brainwash others.

How can one person’s set of beliefs be more or less “valid” than anyone else’s? Everyone comes up with their beliefs one way or another, some through religion and some not. The non-religious are always accusing the religious of being intolerant, but it often seems the reverse is true. The non-religious seem to think that their belief set is superior to those who are religious.

Non- religious folks like to SAY they vote according to the issues, not religion, but most would never vote for a candidate who was fiercely religious. They want someone in office who sees the world the way they do, just like the Christians do. The non-religious’ claims of tolerance do not apparently extend to Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
Posted By Julia, Milwaukee, WI : 11:54 PM ET
Great topic

I agree that the separation of church and state, when the phrase was originally coined, referred more to the danger of one denomination dominating politics (eg Anglicans in England) than of the danger of religious political influence in general. Certainly the Founding Fathers did not seek to create a theocracy when establishing the USA, but nearly all of them were men of God and likely anticipated that religion would (and even should) have some political effect. I think that religion very much has a place in the marketplace of ideas. Many of Jesus’ teachings - care for the sick and the poor, live at peace as much as it is possible, etc - are very applicable in the secular/political/governmental context. Indeed, how one's religion plays into politics may at this point depend on one's view of government. Liberals would tend to see the feds as agents of these precepts, through welfare and other avenues. Conservatives, meanwhile, generally see such tasks as best carried out by private (often and especially religious) organizations, thus keeping the size of government in check and hopefully rendering it more efficient. Although I rarely like middle of the road solutions, I believe a compromise of the two positions is the best; no socialist welfare state, to be sure, but the government cannot simply turn a blind eye when citizens of the richest nation in the world go hungry. This, I pray, is a case of religiously informed politics we can all agree on.
Posted By Ethan Yorktown, IN : 12:20 AM ET
"It is a great blessing to have within us the desire to know God, to know life, and to know spiritual things." WL

I would never deny these things in any of the candidates for the Presidency. We all have a choice, YES, but personally, my choice would be for a person who has a strong belief in God. If most people believe that way, then to me that's wonderful. It not, I would be sad, but I can't contest anything against it legally. Our beliefs are what make us who we are.
Posted By Linda, Loma Linda, CA : 3:05 AM ET
I think the big problem is that fundamentalists don't know wher to draw the line between thier right to practice thier faith and my right not to. There are many religious people...very deeply religious (regardless of faith) that also realize that we are a nation of many faiths. What might be wrong to you, might be perfectly fine to my faith. If my faith says that gay marriage, for instance, is just fine, are you not violationg my right to practice my faith as I see fit and to worship the divine as I see fit when you lobby to make gay marriage illegal?

This is a free country. If you don;t like something or you think something is wrong...don;t do it. If you don;t think gay homosexuality is moral, then don't marry or have sex with someone of the same sex. Pretty simple. On the other hand...who are you (you in the general sense) to dictate my morals to me if I am not a membr of your particular congregation? If you don;t like porn...don;t buy Huslter or Playboy, but don;t stop someone else from making use of thier freedoms.

I think that is the crux of the matter. Religious fundamentalism of any stripe is not conducive to a democracy. In order for them to practice thier particulr flavor of thier religion, they must exist in a theocracy because only then can thier beleifs be forced on others without question.

Fundamentalism...wether it be Christian, Islam, or whatever is only differentiated by the books they follow and the laws they enforce. They cannot allow others to practice the free will that thier own god professes to have given mankind.

A great example of this is fromthisd weekend. Here in Naperville, IL...we had a big Harry Potter event for the kids for the release of the final book in the series. They had all sorts of events and crafts and the such and the proceeds all went to a children's charity (they predicted 70,000 people showed up Friday I am sure they collected a lot of money). Now everyone was there to have a good time and have fun...with the exception of this small group of people that felt they had to try and ruin everything by coming in a preaching thier fundamentlist crap. I mean, come on...this was a kids event, for kids to have fun. This had nothing to do with spirituality or religion. But yet they feel they have to come and shove thier beiefs down our thoats. Not to mention that it is illegal to preach (ie press religion withoutprior consent) to kids without the consent of the parents.

This is why we see such a backlash againt them. They feel they are above everything and better than everyone else.

Eric Roberts
Naperville, IL
Posted By Anonymous : 2:00 PM ET
Religion should stay out of politics. Why? Because religions whole purpose is to gain more followers, convert more people to their ideology, not better the lives of all americans, or all of mankind. They simply want to broaden their legal access to push their views on you without your consent. Everybody sees churches in their town or city on practically every block. That's all the access to the community they need. With christianities track record of brutalizing minorities and those with different views, they shouldn't be anywhere near politics.
Posted By Cody McIntosh Missoula MT : 10:41 PM ET
Rob Parsley knows exactly what he is talking about.

I am a christian who prays in the name of Jesus. I am not a fanatic. I do not make people believe in what I believe in, because it is a chose they have to make. But I do not believe that the separation of church and state is what our founding fathers wanted. I believe they wanted to create laws and regulations to reflect values and morals based on thier religion and it is impossible to have a true separation of government and those beliefs.

I will say one thing. The bible says a nation divided will not stand. I believe that the US is very divided right now on a lot of topic. Religion,(our rights being taken away on how, when and were to pray or talk) Democratic and Republicans,(are completely divided and cannot agree on anything) Terrorist issues,(they want to kill us and nothing will stop them especially diplomacy) Immigration, Borders, etc.... I could go on. But I believe you get the idea.
Posted By Chritine, Lexington, KY : 10:45 PM ET
In response to Eric of Naperville, I would like to ask, where do you draw the line? You said "What might be wrong to you, might be perfectly fine to my faith". I agree, but you must have boundaries. There are tens of thousands of Americans whose religion encourages polygamy. There are hundreds of newer "religious" sects that claim drug use us an essential part of their "sacred" ceremonies. Some Muslims still support honor killings. Need I go on...???
So your faith allows gay marriage and reading of porn and mine does not. I believe these things are sin, but that is not my motivation for lobbying against them. I totally support your right to "sin". I simply don't think there is any good reason for gays to be allowed to marry, and if they were allowed, it would create a nightmare of adoption, social security, insurance, and other legal issues that would waste taxpayers money on nothing more than giving the newly married gays a piece of paper. There are many Americans who believe gay marriage should not be legal, who are not religious at all. Usually the political issues that religious groups get involved in are about so much more than "sin".
Also Eric, in the first part of your posting you complain that YOUR right to express your beliefs are being violated, and the last part of your posting complains about how YOU don't like how other's choose to express the beliefs. You seem to think that anyone who expresses their beliefs differently than you is violating your rights. In your first sentence you are pleading for your right to worship as you choose, and you then turn around and push to have someone else’s right to do the same squelched.
Posted By Sarah, Tulsa, OK : 12:01 AM ET
Wow. Enjoy all the comments. Maggie, you say that Dems have suddenly found faith. You are mistaken. There are those of us who believe that you can have faith without pushing it on people who do not belive as you do. The fact that we let our beliefs and faith guide us without pushing an agenda does not make us non-religious. I continue to be upset that the right wing conservatives have hijacked the name of Christ. YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR HIM! I belive that conservatives use Christ to advance their political agenda that will benefit them. I belive that they use the religion and politics of exclusion to build their self esteem at the expense of others. I cannot speak for Christ, but imagine that he would be very upset at how his name is used in today's political arena.
Posted By Skott J., Tampa, FL : 7:28 PM ET
Religion is not a problem in this country or any other. The problem is that organized religion is a con. If you tithe to a church so you can be told what to believe, you are wasting your money. Spirituality cannot be bought, sold or traded. It comes from the soul. It is also deeply private. People that think public displays of religion are OK do great evil to all that believe differently. Why? Because such displays are for the exclusive purpose of finding out whos who. Humans like to form social clubs where different thinking people aren't allowed. Public displays allow the sorting out of those "other people". Our constitution was amended to make this process uncconstitutional. And justly so. I agree that everyone should be spiritual; but, it should be impossible for me to know what your religious beliefs are without you telling me. It is also apparent that religion has no place in government since it takes away freedoms of some citizens to legislate the morality of others. The word for this behavior is tyranny.
Posted By Keith, Tallahassee, FL : 10:49 AM ET
I think that all religious groups should be allowed to express themselves, not simply those who are agnostics or atheists.

I'm really tired of such silliness as changing the LA seal, or destroying the 10 Commandments tablets outside courthouses, and tearing down war memorials, such as the one formerly at Skinner's Butte in Lane County, Oregon, not far from the town I grew up in.

It goes past silliness into outright oppression and fascism when a school administrator can publicly apologize to members of my religion (Islam) for banning the student jummah - and assume that we will be "understanding" because the legal consultation that led to the banning was intended solely to ban an after school Christian group, not us. As if it should be acceptable for government to favor one religion over another in this country! The worst part is some of my fellow Muslims accepted this and did not think that we should be outraged by the deliberate maltreatment of the Christians.
Posted By N, Newark, CA : 3:49 AM ET
Oh - did I mention the same government that destroys people's cultural heritages by trashing religious symbols took time out to spend a fortune on a replica of the Quran for the site of the former WTC? As a Muslimah, I really think that money should have been used to help the victims of that example of Wahhabiyya in action. Not only was this statue a bizarre gesture - but my religion teaches us not to worship idols and this statue seems perilously close to elevating the Book above God.

And the saddest part is that an outraged public will not listen when it is pointed out that many innocent Muslims died in that attack - people who worked in the building as everything from waiters at the restaurant to corporate executives. Nope, the separation of church and state people wish to use any ploy to divide up those who believe in God - Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jew, Parsi, or any other religion - because by dividing us they find it easy to push a soulless agenda that treats people as economic cogs whose only value is as producers or consumers and who should value nothing other than the material things.
Posted By N, Newark, CA : 3:59 AM ET
Thank you to "N" from Ca. for acknowledging that there appears to be reverse discrimination against Judeo-Christian religions in the U.S. When the Ten Commandments and war memorials are being torn down in public places, and Muslim footbaths are being put up, something's very, very wrong.
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