The GOP is increasingly aligned with the religious right, catering to the demands of the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, and other political activists representing the interests of the Christian right who are obsessed with social issues such as Christian nationalism, LGBT rights and abortion.
Former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson says that the government must remain neutral on personal beliefs. His campaign website states:
WE ARE A NATION OF MANY PEOPLES and beliefs. The only way to respect all citizens is to allow each to make personal decisions themselves.
- Life is precious and must be protected. A woman should be allowed to make her own decisions during pregnancy until the point of viability of a fetus.
- Stem cell research should only be completed by private laboratories that operate without federal funding.
- Government should not impose its values upon marriage. It should protect the rights of couples to engage in civil unions if they wish, as well as the rights of religious organizations to follow their beliefs.
The Christian Conservative "Marriage Vow."
The latest from the religious right has been a demand from the Iowa Family Leader that Republican candidates sign its "Marriage Vow – A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family" in order to receive an endorsement from the state's Christian conservative organization.
In a statement published on his campaign website, Johnson declared,
While the Family Leader pledge covers just about every other so-called virtue they can think of, the one that is conspicuously missing is tolerance. In one concise document, they manage to condemn gays, single parents, single individuals, divorcees, Muslims, gays in the military, unmarried couples, women who choose to have abortions, and everyone else who doesn’t fit in a Norman Rockwell painting.
GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum were quick to sign the Iowa Family Leader's "Marriage Vow – A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family." The declaration, drafted by a conservative Christian group headed by Bob Vander Plaats, demands that candidates vow to the following before the group will give its political support:
- Personal fidelity to my spouse.
- Respect for the marital bonds of others.
- Official fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, supporting the elevation of none but faithful constitutionalists as judges or justices.
- Vigorous opposition to any redefinition of the Institution of Marriage – faithful monogamy between one man and one woman – through statutory-, bureaucratic-, or court-imposed recognition of intimate unions which are bigamous, polygamous, polyandrous, same-sex, etc.
- Recognition of the overwhelming statistical evidence that married people enjoy better health, better sex, longer lives, greater financial stability, and that children raised by a mother and a father together experience better learning, less addiction, less legal trouble, and less extramarital pregnancy.
- Support for prompt reform of uneconomic, anti-marriage aspects of welfare policy, tax policy, and marital/divorce law, and extended “second chance” or “cooling-off” periods for those seeking a “quickie divorce.”
- Earnest, bona fide legal advocacy for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) at the federal and state levels.
- Steadfast embrace of a federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which protects the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman in all of the United States.
- Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy – our next generation of American children – from human trafficking, sexual slavery, seduction into promiscuity, and all forms of pornography and prostitution, infanticide, abortion and other types of coercion or stolen innocence.
- Support for the enactment of safeguards for all married and unmarried U.S. Military and National Guard personnel, especially our combat troops, from inappropriate same-gender or opposite-gender sexual harassment, adultery or intrusively intimate commingling among attracteds (restrooms, showers, barracks, tents, etc.); plus prompt termination of military policymakers who would expose American wives and daughters to rape or sexual harassment, torture, enslavement or sexual leveraging by the enemy in forward combat roles.
- Rejection of Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control.
- Recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security.
- Commitment to downsizing government and the enormous burden upon American families of the USA‟s $14.3 trillion public debt, its $77 trillion in unfunded liabilities, its $1.5 trillion federal deficit, and its $3.5 trillion federal budget.
- Fierce defense of the First Amendment‟s rights of Religious Liberty and Freedom of Speech22, especially against the intolerance of any who would undermine law-abiding American citizens and institutions of faith and conscience for their adherence to, and defense of, faithful heterosexual monogamy.
The preamble of the declaration has been sharply criticized because it implied that black children were better off born into slavery because they had one man and one woman as parents instead of a single parent. The Family Leader has since dropped the reference to slavery, apologizing for the misunderstanding.
Separation of Church and State.
The religious right has been vocal about the wall of separation between church and state, following a literal interpretation of the Constitution where the words "separation of church and state" do not explicitly appear. The groups, with millions of dollars in their budgets, claim that religion should influence government. They seek to impose their conservative Christian views that are well-documented in the Iowa Family Leader's Marriage Vow upon others through legislation and public policy. Among other things, they want intelligent design or creationism taught as science in the schools, want gays and lesbians stripped of civil rights, believe that there should be prayer in the public schools, and want abortion banned. They say that the United States was founded on Christian, biblical values and that the concept of separation of church and state was invented by Hitler.
In the June 13 GOP presidential candidates debate hosted by CNN, some of the candidates were asked about the separation of church and state:
PAWLENTY: Well, the protections between the separation of church and state were designed to protect people of faith from government, not government from people of faith. This is a country that in our founding documents says we're a nation that's founded under God, and the privileges and blessings at that we have are from our creator. They're not from our member of Congress. They're not from our county commissioner.
And 39 of the 50 states have in the very early phrases of their constitutions language like Minnesota has in its preamble. It says this, "We the people of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberties," and so the Founding Fathers understood that the blessings that we have as a nation come from our creator and we should stop and say thanks and express gratitude for that. I embrace that.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
KING: Let's spend a little time talking. Let's spend a little bit of time talking about it.
Senator, let's start with you. Just what role does faith play in your political life? Are there decisions, certain issues where some might you just, let's meet with my advisers, what does my gut say, and others where you might retreat and have a moment of private prayer?
SANTORUM: I'm some who believes that you approach issues using faith and reason. And if your faith is pure and your reason is right, they'll end up in the same place.
I think the key to the success of this country, how we all live together, because we are a very diverse country — Madison called it the perfect remedy — which was to allow everybody, people of faith and no faith, to come in and make their claims in the public square, to be heard, have those arguments, and not to say because you're not a person of faith, you need to stay out, because you have strong faith convictions, your opinion is invalid. Just the opposite — we get along because we know that we — all of our ideas are allowed in and tolerated. That's what makes America work.
KING: Congressman Paul, does faith have a role in these public issues, the public square, or is it a personal issue at your home and in your church?
PAUL: I think faith has something to do with the character of the people that represent us, and law should have a moral fiber to it and our leaders should. We shouldn't expect us to try to change morality. You can't teach people how to be moral.
But the Constitution addresses this by saying — literally, it says no theocracy. But it doesn't talk about church and state. The most important thing is the First Amendment. Congress shall write no laws — which means Congress should never prohibit the expression of your Christian faith in a public place.
Gary Johnson, the former 2-term governor of New Mexico, was not invited to participate in the debate, even though he had the required recognition. In fact, Michele Bachmann, who did participate, had not yet announced that she was running when invited to the panel.
Johnson answered all of the questions in a video he published on YouTube. His response to the question about the definition of the separation of church and state and how it would affect his decision making, if he were to become president (@21:55 in the video below), was concise:
Well, I think it's an obvious question and that it has an obvious answer. There should be a separation of church and state. And as Governor of New Mexico, I would like to think that was in fact what happened in the State of New Mexico. That would be my presidency.
Religious Bigotry Should Have No Place in the Republican Party.
Johnson has been consistent in his views about civil unions, gays in the military, a woman's right to choose up until the viability of the fetus. He has also said that pot should be legalized, citing the expense of the "war on drugs" and that, as a practical matter, driving while impaired on pot would be equal to driving while impaired on alcohol. In response to the Family Leader's "marriage pledge," he noted:
Government should not be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I have always been a strong advocate of liberty and freedom from unnecessary government intervention into our lives. The freedoms that our forefathers fought for in this country are sacred and must be preserved. The Republican Party cannot be sidetracked into discussing these morally judgmental issues — such a discussion is simply wrongheaded. We need to maintain our position as the party of efficient government management and the watchdogs of the “public’s pocket book”.