Home / News / To GOP candidates: Enough already with God–our nation has real problems and lack of religion in politics isn't one of them
To GOP candidates: Enough already with God–our nation has real problems and lack of religion in politics isn't one of them

To GOP candidates: Enough already with God–our nation has real problems and lack of religion in politics isn't one of them

I would like to be among the first to applaud Rob Boston of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State on his fine article "Alternative Universe: Iowa Presidential Forum Exposes Religious Right Disconnect from Reality."    Mr. Boston sat through the Religious Right's Thanksgiving Family Forum (for which he deserves an award), and concisely set down what is wrong with the GOP candidates in terms of their thinking about our government, which if anything exposes their complete ignorance regarding American civics, American history, and foundation documents of American government.  CNN reported that the six candidates who attended the event were Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich:

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison don’t agree with you. You hate the separation of church and state; Jefferson and Madison loved it. Jefferson and Madison worked together to end the government-established church in Virginia and guarantee religious liberty for all. Jefferson coined the metaphor of a “wall of separation between church and state.” Madison spoke of the “total separation of the church from the state.” Neither favored an officially Christian government. They are not on your side; stop invoking them.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are two different documents designed to do different things.  There’s no doubt that the Declaration of Independence is an important historical document. It was a bold statement of our nation’s desire to be free from British control. But it does not list our rights. The rights of Americans are outlined in the Constitution, not the Declaration. I realize that it bothers you that the Constitution is secular and that you place great stock in the fact that the Declaration contains a deistic reference to the “Creator,” but that does not change this simple fact: The foundational governing document of the nation is the Constitution – and it does not state that we are an official Christian nation.

We have three co-equal branches of government. It’s discouraging to hear you cheer when candidates vow to stop the courts from handing down decisions that you don’t like. Our system grants the president no such powers – and for good reason. We’re not a dictatorship, after all. An independent judiciary is essential to the maintenance of a free society. When you applaud a man who promises to fire, harass and intimidate judges and turn the courts into a rubber-stamp body, you are advocating for autocracy. Aside from the separation of church and state, there is another important type of separation in our Constitution: the separation of powers. You might want to read up on it.

When you advocate denying public office to people on the basis of what they believe (or don’t believe) about God, you are being bigots. Article VI of the Constitution states that there shall be no religious test for federal office. People are free to reject political hopefuls on the basis of their beliefs, of course, but candidates should not promote this type of bigotry. We would have no difficulty labeling a person who says that a Jew is unfit for the presidency an anti-Semite. Likewise, a person who says that an atheist is unfit for that office should be called what he or she is: a bigot. It’s not something to be proud of.

You cannot simultaneously argue that decisions are best left to states and localities and demand federal control when states and localities do something you don’t like. Several candidates attacked Washington, D.C., policy-makers and asserted that states and local governments should have more control, much to the delight of the audience. They talked about how people have the freedom to make decisions on the local level. But apparently that freedom does not extend to making decisions that the Religious Right does not like. Moments later, many of these same candidates vowed to stop states from legalizing same-sex marriage or civil unions and demanded to criminalize abortion in all 50 states by federal writ. When you promote this type of intellectual disconnect, you expose yourself as the giant hypocrites that you are.

The conservative group The Family Leader sponsored the event along with Focus on the Family affiliate Citizen Link and the National Organization for Marriage, who we have reported on extensively for their attempts to scare people regarding marriage equality via their lies about gay people.
The Des Moines Register reports that AU Executive Director the Reverend Barry Lynn echoes what many Americans are feeling about the 2012 GOP field:

The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a statement: “It’s a shame that so many candidates see fit to attend this fundamentalist Christian inquisition masquerading as a debate.

“Our nation faces many serious problems, but a lack of religion in our political system isn’t one of them. In fact, this election has already become deeply entangled with religion, with four candidates now claiming that God told them to run. Enough is enough.”



About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
  • 8bithero

    It seems that historical revisionism is the GOP standard these days. From Texas changing history in public school books to conform to a more conservative ideology to labeling the deist founding fathers as hard core Christians.

    Calling them deist is even generous.

    The Treaty of Tripoli specifically and blatantly states that America was in no way founded as a Christian nation. That Treaty was commissioned by George Washington, read aloud to Congress where it gained a unanimous approval, and finally signed by John Adams.

    If you want to know what the founding fathers thought about America being a Christian nation, that's where the answer lies. Black and white. No room for discussion nor argument.

    They made their thoughts on the issue abundantly clear.

  • Great post. I just wanted to point out two things. First, Jefferson did not coin the term “a wall of separation…” though this is an easy and common mistake. It was actually Roger Williams, a theologian who founded the First Baptist Church in America and the Colony of Rhode Island. Williams, advocated in his book “The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause for Conscience” for "’a wall of separation’ between church and state and for state toleration of various Christian denominations, including Catholicism, and also "paganish, Jewish, Turkish or anti-Christian consciences and worships."

    Second, for many of the GOP candidates at the revival…I mean “debate”, believe they are commanded to weaken the Federal government and its checks and balances as well as tear down the separation of church and state. This is all an effort to dismantle and destroy secular government. To them, anything that is not overtly Christian (and their brand of it) is Satanic and it is imperative that it be destroyed. This is Dominionist theology and Perry, Bachmann and Gingrich can easily be connected to it (though I suspect like most things Gingrich’s involvement is opportunism).

    Fundamentalist Christianity, or any fundamentalist religion for that matter, is inherently not democratic and does not lend itself to individual liberty.

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