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News Politics - playing the religious card

  1. Sep 1, 2011 #1


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    Should religion be combined with politics? Should laws be made according to religious viewpoints? Recent Gallup polls* show that the majority of Americans now approve of abortion and gay marriage, oddly there is an increase among outspoken religious politicians attempting to push laws against both of these. (let's not drag the thread off topic with discussions of these two topics, it's just to point out a trend).

    It seems that even as we hear about the US becoming less religious that we see more politicians pandering to religious groups. Or even worse, IMO, they actually believe that they are the earthly implement of a deity.


    Please read the entire article before posting so everyone is on the same page.

    Let's keep personal religious beliefs out of this, the discussion should be if religion and politics should be combined. If you believe they should be combined, can you explain why it would be beneficial for the country? Do you think the heavy religious emphasis by some politicians is good or bad?

    * Gallup polls



    I know feelings on this are highly charged, so let's please stick to discussion about this trend without getting out of control.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
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  3. Sep 1, 2011 #2


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    To be fair, it's not a given that the Tea Party's sinking ratings are due to their perceived association with the religious right. Their role in the debt ceiling debate could have a lot to do with their sinking popularity, as well.

    And the Tea Party and social conservatives aren't quite synonymous. Only 42% of Tea Party supporters also support the social conservative movement, but 69% of social conservatives support the Tea Party movement. (The Tea Party, Religion and Social Issues)

    It would be more fair to say social conservatives see an opportunity to coopt the Tea Party movement for their own objectives. Among religious groups, though, support for the tea party is highest among evangelicals - the religious group most adamant about instilling religious values into the law and/or Constitution.

    For decades, social conservatives were kind of pushed into the background since who else could they vote for besides the Republican candidates? Democrats? Probably not likely. It's only recently that their influence in the Republican Party has become significant. Given that history, it's not all that surprising that they would be among the most likely to rebel against the Republican establishment if they didn't feel their views were getting enough attention.

    The Tea Party needs social conservatives if they're to remain large enough to be a viable player - especially after their latest 'victory' in the House debt ceiling debate. I'd look for an even closer association in the future.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  4. Sep 1, 2011 #3


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    As for the religious right, I think they're following a smart strategy.

    Yes, the Republican Party keeps shrinking as moderates leave, but that just increases the influence of the religious right.

    Eventually, there will be an election where the incumbent President is a Democrat, the economy is horrible, and voters will be more concerned about voting for change than the name tacked to that change.

    Doesn't matter whether it's right to let religion have more influence in government or even whether most people believe it's right or wrong. It's still effective politics for those that believe religion should have more influence.

    A President is for 4 years, or maybe 8 years at the max. A Supreme Court Justice is for life (or about 30 years or so).
  5. Sep 1, 2011 #4


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    Then we can only hope that the good of the country comes before personal religious beliefs and that people make decisions accordingly.
  6. Sep 1, 2011 #5
    Yes, I really hate it when people put religion before the service of the country. That's not service to God by any stretch of the imagination except that of the extreme right.
  7. Sep 1, 2011 #6


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    Evo, in the OP asks: “Should religion be combined with politics? Should laws be made according to religious viewpoints?”

    I answer “No” and “No”. Here are the last two paragraphs from an opinion article by Neal Gabler which agrees:

    “As we are sadly discovering, this minority cannot be headed off, which is most likely why conservatism transmogrified from politics to a religion in the first place. Conservatives who sincerely believed that theirs is the only true and right path have come to realize that political tolerance is no match for religious vehemence.

    Unfortunately, they are right. Having opted out of political discourse, they are not susceptible to any suasion. Rationality won't work because their arguments are faith-based rather than evidence-based. Better message control won't work. Improved strategies won't work. Grass-roots organizing won't work. Nothing will work because you cannot convince religious fanatics of anything other than what they already believe, even if their religion is political dogma.”

    I suggest reading the full article at:


    My opinions and observations are:

    • I don't believe religious teachings have a place in the way our country is run or decisions are made.

    • I do not want any social or political policy made on the basis of religious faith.

    • I oppose the use of political power to attain moral ends.

    • Religion has already intruded into the political sphere, including same-sex marriage, don’t ask, don’t tell in the military, abortion, stem cell research, and education.

    • A large divide seems to be growing in America between an increasingly Christian morality-driven conservative right and an increasingly polarized and oppositional liberal left.

    • “Ground Zero Mosque” and “Obama’s A Muslim?” are simplified, eye-catching headlines, but the conflict they represent is more complicated than left vs. right. When political candidates claim homosexuality can be “cured” or that “Creationism” ought to be taught alongside evolution in public schools they only amplify the conflict between the two sides.

    • America has separation of church and state guaranteed by the First Amendment.

    • Everyone of every faith is entitled to have and practice their religious beliefs.

    • Cooperation between individuals and groups breeds trust. Compromise is the key to progress in resolving differences. Both are essential for the successful advancement of our nation.
  8. Sep 2, 2011 #7


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    Yes and Yes.

    It seems to me to be disingenuous to exclude any single point of view from the ability to represent itself in politics.

    Just as hateful and intolerant minority groups will likely never rise to any significant power because the opinions of the majority reject them, religion should be combined with politics with the ideal that the ebb and flow of democracy will sort out an appropriate balance.


    No and No.

    If you have nothing nice to say it's better to say nothing at all, or this phrase.
  9. Sep 2, 2011 #8
    No and No. Religion, especially ones that rely only on "blind faith" and such have no place in politics where real-life problems are supposed to be solved.

    Maybe it's that I think too much like an engineer, but you don't solve real life problems by sitting by your bed and praying for some unknown force to build you a bridge that'll carry 2 million tons. It won't happen. You have to make it happen by doing the math, getting the support, the money, the workforce, the design, the approval from the city/county/state/country, etc.

    I trust people who argue against my economic (and social) view-point based on statistics and facts (even if I disagree with how true the stats/facts are), but someone who just relies on some book written a looonnnggg time ago, and while it has good advice has no idea how to solve current problems, I have very little trust in their ability to run the country at all.
  10. Sep 2, 2011 #9


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    Pretend the religious right aren't wanting to create laws based on their religion? They are attempting to force their beliefs on everyone and we have to stand up against them. We have strived for so long to get rights for women, equality for homosexuals, science in education, and they want nothing more than to take these things away and throw us back hundreds of years. IMO.

    Say nothing? It's time for those of us that want social and scientific progress to stand up and scream.
  11. Sep 2, 2011 #10


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    A few days ago, there was a political cartoon in my newspaper in which a couple was reading their newspapers, and the wife said something like "If God told Bachmann to run, he must want Obama to win."
  12. Sep 2, 2011 #11


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    I want to use this as my sig, but I'd probably get banned.
  13. Sep 2, 2011 #12


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    Sounds kinda zealous and/or frustrated.

    I was just following orders :smile:.
  14. Sep 2, 2011 #13
    this seems to be the all-too-often argument, but i think it represents a false-dichotomy. the truth is that most religious people do not operate this way. look up things like the protestant ethic and you'll see that religious people do not just sit around waiting for something to come from a higher force. rather, religion operates much more like philosophy does for the non-religious. it's what people use to give meaning to their lives and guide the non-scientific decisions.

    as for the OP, i think it's not possible for people to not use their religion in their political decision making. just as it's not possible for the non-religious to not use philosophy in theirs. take the two examples that shall not be discussed. there's no reason to believe an atheist can only fall on one side of those issues. or that the decision would only be based on reason and not emotion or instinct.

    now, benefit to the country... yes, i think including ones personal, not-necessarily-religious beliefs is important. people aren't robots, and we won't be served well by a decision-making process that removes parts of the human equation.

    do i think heavy religious emphasis by politicians is bad? i think any kind of demagoguery is bad. i don't think it is necessarily a religious problem.
  15. Sep 2, 2011 #14


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    But the whole point is that these particular politicians are running a religious campaign, they claim to be doing God's will.

    Of course people will be more likely to lean towards their own beliefs in making laws and decisions, but a leader should make the best possible choices for the country, even if it goes against their personal beliefs. The people that believe they are on a mission from God to impose their interpretation of what God tells them he wants are not likley to do what is best for the country, I mean, they can't go against God, right?

    I don't mean that politicians shouldn't be religious, it's when they've gone off the deep end that I get frightened about their capability to make rational decisions. Like Michele Bachman and her husband's business "Michele Bachmann Clinic: Where You Can Pray Away the Gay".


    Do you think that she would change her mind if she became president?

    And Rick Perry who did another in a series of flip flops going from emdorsing gay marriage to signing a promise to ban gay marriage.

    Please read on about Barton.

  16. Sep 2, 2011 #15
    I am a bit weary of responding since this seems to be a local US debate. And the original question boils down to personal beliefs, and beliefs are (mostly) irrational.

    I am a humanist. My personal beliefs derive from the fact that a) I don't know a lot, but b) I seem to be human and there seem to be other humans. And from that, I derive that all human life is equally valuable, and -in some leap of faith- that we are just here to take care of each other (for better or worse).

    A humanist, or -an extreme case- a marxist, will claim no, and no.

    A religious person will claim yes, and yes.

    I have the feeling that US citizens are religious, or believe in the existence of God, maybe not Christianity, but they are inclined to vote for religious people as people who they can be certain to have at least some minimal form of moral guidance. (Stemming from the belief that religion has the moral monopoly on ethics.)

    The thing is that you can hardly debate individual beliefs or the religious, mystic, experience. The only thing I came up with as a question, and a reason to me, why religion shouldn't be in politics is the following:

    What if Perry is elected president and God tells him to nuke Mecca?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2011
  17. Sep 2, 2011 #16
    I am by no means a Perry fan, but to be fair, he didn't really flip-flop. He continually advocates States' rights for those things not in the Constitution - he has no problem amending the Constitution, which is what he advocates for the gay marriage, abortion, etc. debate.
  18. Sep 2, 2011 #17
    i think most of them are simply riding on their own egos (and well, let's be practical here, the corporations who have bought them). which is fundamentally no different than some god. and when you vote them in, you give approval to that. once the politician is elected, she has a mandate. she is doing what a majority of voters think is best for the country.

    what difference does it make? is it really that different from cognitive behavioral therapy? if someone is uncomfortable with their current situation, i'm not sure it's my business how they want to approach it.

    rick perry is just a demagogue, imo. not so different from Al Gore, except maybe in charisma. i'm actually praying that rick perry's sexual exploits will blow up in his face in a bigger way than even clinton experienced.
  19. Sep 2, 2011 #18


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    Is there something in Evangelical Christian philosophy that would indicate they're in favor of nuclear weapons, let alone nuking rival religion's holy places? (And Rick Perry is an Evangelical Christian)

    I think it's fair to say that Evangelicals have remained silent on some issues in order to maintain a close relationship with non-Evangelical conservative Repubicans. Nuclear weapons and immigration would be two of those issues.

    I don't know much about Perry's views on nuclear weapons (I think he does support a missile defense program), but if he is in favor of nuking Mecca, it probably wouldn't be because of his religion.
  20. Sep 2, 2011 #19
    I think you may have missed my point (or I didn't state it clearly enough, either way). I wasn't saying that religious people, or people who believe in God are unstable/bad, I was saying that religion shouldn't be used to run a country. I don't care if someone is religious, as long as they don't bring the viewpoint to the table (such as praying to God to build the bridge) as a solution.

    Philosophy is all well and good, and gives people a direction, as does religion, but when the direction is taken as the final solution, that's where my support ends.
  21. Sep 2, 2011 #20
    The problem with religious philosophy, is that you can derive any truth you want.

    In Christianity.
    Women subordinate from man? Sure, Eve was made from a rib of Adam.
    Women equal to man? Sure, we are all equal under God.

    The same holds true for Sharia.
    In Saudi Arabia woman aren't allowed to drive cars. (I don't really know the theological reason for that.)
    The rest of the muslim world doesn't seem to care.

    Want slaves? Want racism? Want a religious war? Everything goes.

    Now I don't think the pure scientific approach is a lot better, but at least, to me, it is marginally better.
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