Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Candidates and Expression of Faith

I am seeing protests against Democratic candidates expressing religious sentiments on the campaign trail. The protest comes from people who declare that there should be a separation between church and state in that a person's religious beliefs are irrelevant to holding public office. Only policy questions are relevant. (And, of course, religious beliefs are relevent to the degree that a candidate may base policy decisions on religious beliefs.)

The problem is that we live in a society where a candidate that follows this recommendation would almost certainly lose the election. Telling a candidate not to advertise his or her faith is like telling an individual not to be a candidate.

No sane candidate is going to say, "I am going to run for office with the idea of winning, and I am not going to express any religious sentiments." The only way a candidate can even become a contender for his or her party's nomination is to play the faith card. So . . . complaining that all candidates that are contenders for their party's nomination have played the faith card is a bit irrational.

What we need to do is to create a culture where candidates do not have to play a faith card to be a contender. This means complaining to our fellow citizens about those who impose this requirement - not the candidates who realize that they must meet it to end.

Instead of complaining, "Canididates should not do X," one should complain, "Good citiens do not choose their candidates based on their doing X."

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