Home / News / A Look at the State Republican Platforms: Our godly heritage and religious liberty.
A Look at the State Republican Platforms:  Our godly heritage and religious liberty.

A Look at the State Republican Platforms: Our godly heritage and religious liberty.

Numerous state GOP platforms embrace the notion that the United States is a Judeo-Christian nation and that religious liberties are “under attack.” Praying in public, displaying the Ten Commandments as well as other religious imagery, and religious tax exemptions were some common themes expressed in state Republican platforms.

Highlights:

  • Prompted by the Affordable Care Act and lawsuits over religious terminology or symbolism in the public square, special “religious freedom” or “religious liberty” types of resolutions or platforms were adopted by Hawaii, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Missouri, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.
  • The public expression of prayer and religious symbolism was supported in numerous state platforms. Public displays of the Ten Commandments were endorsed by the Republican parties of Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.
  • Some GOP platforms included verbiage affirming that religious institutions should not be taxed, including Arkansas, Iowa and South Carolina. Iowa and South Carolina’s platforms call for pastors to be able to talk politics from the pulpit without tax repercussions, with South Carolina noting that the nation has a duty to obey God.
  • State Republican parties such as those in Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Washington claim that the US enjoys a “Judeo-Christian heritage” or is a “Judeo-Christian nation.” The Texas GOP goes so far as to proclaim that the separation of church and state is a myth. Wisconsin takes a stab at the separation of church and state by declaring that God is allowed in government.
  • The Boy Scouts of America has been criticized for barring gays and atheists from its program. Georgia and Texas affirm the Boy Scouts’ position.
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(1) Church, state, and an overview of state Republican platform trends.

(2) Our godly heritage and religious liberty.

(3) Our patriotic Christian nation, from K-12.

(4) More than 1 in 5 Republican parties agree: Creationism should be taught as science.

(5) God bless the zygotes.

(6) The gays and minorities must be marginalized to save America!

(7) With liberty and justice for all (except pregnant women, gays, and people who don't like religion in the public square).

(8) Getting America back on track with faith-based programs.

Source materials (links to quoted materials).

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Indepth Review of GOP Platforms Concerning Religion and Religious Liberty:

In its section titled HUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS, Arkansas' Republicans noted:

12. The Republican Party of Arkansas believes all Americans have the right to practice their religious faith free of persecution, intimidation and violence. We acknowledge that the church is a God-ordained institution with a sphere of authority separate from that of civil government. Thus, churches, synagogues, and other places of worship should not be regulated, controlled, or taxed by any level of civil government.

Colorado Republicans resolved that “no person, church, or private organization be compelled to act by government or suffer consequences for refusing to act in a manner that would unduly burden or infringe the exercise of religious liberty.”

Georgia does not have its 2012 GOP platform posted yet. But according to its 2008 platform,

Our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion and forbids any religious test for public office, and it likewise prohibits the establishment of a state-sponsored creed. The balance between those two ideals has been distorted by judicial rulings which attempt to drive faith out of the public arena. The public display of the Ten Commandments does not violate the U.S. Constitution and accurately reflects the Judeo-Christian heritage of our country. We support the right of students to engage in student-initiated, student-led prayer in public schools, athletic events, and graduation ceremonies, when done in conformity with constitutional standards.

We affirm every citizen’s right to apply religious values to public policy and the right of faith-based organizations to participate fully in public programs without renouncing their beliefs, removing religious objects or symbols, or becoming subject to government-imposed hiring practices. Forcing religious groups to abandon their beliefs as applied to their hiring practices is religious discrimination. We support the First Amendment right of freedom of association of the Boy Scouts of America and other service organizations whose values are under assault, and we call upon the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to reverse its policy of blacklisting religious groups which decline to arrange adoptions by same-sex couples. Respectful of our nation’s diversity in faith, we urge reasonable accommodation of religious beliefs in the private workplace. We deplore the increasing incidence of attacks against religious symbols, as well as incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses.

Hawaii has a simple, one-paged platform that was adopted in 2010. In 2011, its Republican party adopted a resolution concerning religious freedom that is longer that its platform:

Whereas, the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution proclaims, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” which protects the right to choose religious beliefs and the right to “exercise" or practice those beliefs; and

Whereas, John Adams explained, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. [pullquote]Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.[/pullquote] It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other;” and

Whereas, despite guarantees in the US Constitution, recent social and legal trends are threatening Freedom of Religion in Hawai`i and the nation by erroneously interpreting the First Amendment to mean freedom from religion. Religion needs protection from the state, not the other way around; and

Whereas, religious organizations and religious adherents are increasingly unwelcome in the public square. They are being asked to leave their religious beliefs and values at home when they step into the voting booth – as if religion were something that could be turned on and off! Rather, religion permeates one’s thoughts, words, deeds, goals, dreams, standards of behavior and interaction with mankind at all times and in all things and in all places; and

Whereas, Americans have a Constitutional right and duty to exercise their religion, to vote their consciences on public issues, and to participate in elections and in debates in the public square. These are the rights of all citizens, religious or not, and they are also the rights of religious leaders and religious organizations.

Therefore, be it resolved, that the Hawai`i Republican Party in convention at Lihue, Hawai`i, May 14, 2011, calls upon the heads of the state and the nation to uphold the First Amendment and to reject measures that restrict or belittle religion and the practice thereof.

Iowa’s GOP platform is one of the most theocratic of the state Republican platforms and reflects a great deal of anger over the 2008 State Supreme Court decision that found that banning marriage equality was unconstitutional. Its platform declared, “We support the public display of the Ten Commandments (12.11)” and “ We oppose further attempts to remove any mention of God from the Pledge of Allegiance, the Declaration of Independence, and other public documents, and from our governmental buildings, monuments, or currency (12.12).” Iowa also had a whole section on “Religious Freedom” –

23.1 We call on our courts to interpret and apply the First Amendment as the Framers intended. The phrase, “the separation of church and state” as it is commonly used, contradicts the original intent and practice of the Framers of the Constitution.  [pullquote]The phrase, “the separation of church and state” as it is commonly used, contradicts the original intent and practice of the Framers of the Constitution.[/pullquote] The First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a “state religion” and permits the exercise of religious freedom. Neither the courts nor government agencies should misuse or misunderstand the First Amendment so as to create a “so-called wall of separation” to the voluntary expression of religious belief.

23.2 We assert that the public display of the Ten Commandments, nativity scenes, and other displays that honor the civilization that provided the philosophical basis for our cherished liberties, religious tolerance, and efforts to help the poor and oppressed around the world, are not “an establishment of religion,” do not compel or coerce others, and should be protected by the 1st Amendment.

23.3 We oppose further attempts to remove any mention of God from the Pledge of Allegiance, the Declaration of Independence, and other documents; or from our governmental buildings, monuments, or currency.

23.4 We advocate freedom of public prayer and religious expression for all.

23.5 We support continuing the tax-exempt status of legitimate religious organizations.

23.6 We assert that church representatives and pastors should be allowed to speak on any subject from Scripture, whether moral or political, at any time, without disturbing the 501 C 3 tax status of the church. This would reverse the restrictions imposed by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson in 1954, to silence the pulpits of America.

23.7 Legitimate religious organizations should be able to receive compensation for the use of their facilities without IRS harassment.

23.8 Religious representatives should be free from ordinances barring them from going door-to-door to evangelize so long as they promptly leave a person’s property when requested to do so. [pullquote]Religious representatives should be free from ordinances barring them from going door-to-door to evangelize so long as they promptly leave a person’s property when requested to do so.[/pullquote]

23.9 We believe that Judeo-Christian values and Scripture should not be excluded from government schools.

23.10 We support the free-speech right of students to write and speak about God and religion in government schools.

Minnesota’s GOP platform states, “We support protecting the right to religious expression for all peoples, including the public display of the Ten Commandments and the right to prayer at government events in the name of a specific deity. Everyone should have the right to form organizations based on their set of religious beliefs or principles including places of worship, charities, schools and hospitals. Religious organizations should not be compelled to act in conflict with their beliefs or teachings or fear losing their tax-exempt status because of their support for specific principles or political candidates. Organizations should have the right to set their own standards for membership and the right to maintain in their policies those aspects that support their fundamental and legal beliefs. Furthermore, we feel these rights extend to people of all nations and condemn religious, political, and ethnic persecution, including oppression, slave labor, torture and murder in any country.”

Missouri has published its 2012 draft platform, which beings with the preamble, “WE BELIEVE that all of us are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is our fundamental belief that our morals, our values and our culture are derived from Almighty God. To quote the Psalmist, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 33:12.

The draft platform has a specific faith clause:

Missouri's many and diverse faith communities are critical to the rich fabric of our society. Government has nothing to fear from people of faith and much to gain. Faith communities should be embraced and allowed to offer assistance to those in need without undue bureaucratic interference. The most powerful sources of charity, virtue, and shared prosperity in our society are not found in government, but in families, houses of worship, charities, and free markets. The Missouri Republican Party believes in protecting the religious freedom of citizens.

Therefore, the Missouri Republican Party supports:

  • Freedom to practice religion, as an individual choice, including the ability to pray in school.
  • Protecting the acknowledgement of God in our public life.
  • Keeping the phrase "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Keeping "In God We Trust" on our currency and in other public declarations.
  • All efforts to honor and preserve America's religious heritage, including the public display of the 10 Commandments or other religious symbols.

Nebraska notes, “Mindful of our religious diversity, we reaffirm our commitment to the freedoms of religion and speech guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. We firmly support the rights of all citizens to openly practice the same, including the rights of individuals to engage in voluntary prayer in schools or in any other public institution.”

In interpreting the Constitution, Nevada Republicans declare:

We recognize that our Creator, Almighty God, not government has endowed all mankind with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” as stated in the Declaration of Independence and secured by the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the State of Nevada, and the principles upon which they were founded.

[…]

We believe the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was intended to prevent a state sponsored religion rather than a separation of God from government. Religious freedom is the first of our constitutionally protected rights. Attempts to force religious institutions to violate their conscience are contrary to the Constitution.

The North Carolina GOP platform refers to public recognition of Almighty God in its platform :

(ARTICLE III) – 2. The State must not interfere with freedom of religion. Public schools should not discriminate for or against any religion nor deny equal access to school facilities. We oppose efforts to remove the recognition of Almighty God from our schools, courts, currency and Pledge of Allegiance. We oppose efforts to remove prayer from our public meetings and governmental institutions. We support the right of religious institutions to refuse to provide contraceptive or abortion services consistent with their religious tenets and oppose government mandates to require such coverage.

North Dakota Republicans adopted a number of religious resolutions in 2012, including a resolution supporting the “Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment” to the Constitution:

RESOLUTION NUMBER 14: FREEDOM OF SPEECH, FAITH, AND RELIGION

WHEREAS: North Dakota Republicans understand that one of the reasons freedom is disappearing from North Dakota is because in many instances freedom has been inadequately defended philosophically and theologically;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That North Dakota Republicans party strongly supports the right of North Dakota citizens to speak freely and to practice religious freedoms as guaranteed to all citizens under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

RESOLUTION NUMBER 23: SUPPORT OF VOLUNTARY PUBLIC PRAYER AND DISPLAYS

BE IT RESOLVED: That the North Dakota Republican Party supports the rights to voluntary prayer and posting the “Ten Commandments” during any public meeting or activity.

RESOLUTION NUMBER 41: RELIGIOUS LIBERTY RESTORATION ACT

WHEREAS: the religious liberty is a treasured freedom on which America was founded. As the First Amendment, our Founding Fathers chose to place our religious liberties first.

WHEREAS: the US Supreme Court handed down a ruling reducing the level of protection, diminishing our religious liberties, forcing each state to implement its own language restoring the first amendment rights penned by our Founding Fathers.

WHEREAS: passage of the Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment will restore these freedoms by preventing government entities from infringing on a person‟s or religious organization‟s sincerely held religious relief.

Therefore, the North Dakota Republican Party endorses a "yes" vote on Constitutional Measure #3, the Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment, on the June 12th Primary election ballot.

[NOTE – The Religious Liberty Restoration Amendment was soundly defeated by North Dakota voters.]

Oklahoma’s 2011 GOP platform is one of the most theocratic platforms in the United States, declaring that the founding documents were based on the Bible and Judeo-Christian values. The platform available on the Oklahoma Republican Party’s website was adopted in 2011. Its section on Religious Freedom reads:

E. Religious Freedom

1. Our Founding Fathers based our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and early laws on the Bible and on traditional Judeo-Christian ethics and values. [pullquote]Our Founding Fathers based our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and early laws on the Bible and on traditional Judeo-Christian ethics and values.[/pullquote] We believe these documents are the basis for law, order, and behavior, allowing individuals, including government workers and officials, the freedom to involve God in all activities according to their conscience.

2. We believe the religion clause of the First Amendment was meant to protect individual’s freedom of religion, not remove religion from public life.

3. We believe church leaders have the same freedom of speech rights as leaders of other organizations, without the threat of penalties, including the loss of tax-exempt status for their churches.

4. We oppose any government oversight, harassment, licensing, or taxation of religious institutions and their ministries.

5. We support retaining the religious significance of national holidays and the display of religious symbols in public places and oppose the removal of such.

6. We strongly support federal and state legislation to encourage and preserve inscriptions in or on public buildings, and on our currency that have references to God such as “In God We Trust.”

7. We strongly support retaining the phrase “One Nation Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

In Oklahoma’s Section V concerning federal resolutions, state Republicans declare, among other things, that the founding of the United States is based on Judeo-Christian values:

Preamble:

The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land and should be interpreted according to the original intent of the founding fathers. We call for reaffirmation of our Godgiven rights enumerated in the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. Our founding fathers based the Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, Bill of Rights and early laws on traditional Judeo-Christian Bible, ethics and values. We believe these documents are the basis for law, order and behavior, allowing individuals, including government officials, the freedom to involve God in all activities according to their consciences.

A. Defense

[…]

6. We oppose the erosion of our military’s readiness through:

a. “Gender-norming” for training and promotion.

b. Co-ed basic training and housing.

c. “Sensitivity training” that supports or promotes the homosexual lifestyle.

d. Openly practicing homosexuals serving in the military.

[…]

14. We support the freedom of military chaplains to provide religious services, including the name of Jesus.

[…]

D. Constitutional Issues

1. We affirm our right under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to exercise our freedom of speech including religious speech. We believe the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause was intended to prevent a state-sponsored or preferred religion, not to separate God from our government or to remove religion from public life.

[…]

12. We support, recommend, and encourage the display of religious symbols, including the Ten Commandments in public places.

[…]

I. Federal General

[…]

17. Keeping the phrase “In God We trust” on U.S. Currency and support leaving “Under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance.

32. Retaining the religious significance of national holidays and the display of religious symbols in public places and oppose the removal of such.

34. Preservation of the National Day of Prayer.

South Carolina’s Republican platform contains a section on “Religion and Religious Liberty” which claims that the United States is based on Judeo-Christian principles and that every nation has the duty to “obey the will of God” or else suffer the consequences:

The South Carolina Republican Party recognizes the importance of religion throughout the history of our state and nation and opposes any attempts to regulate religious institutions, or impinge upon personal religious freedoms. As George Washington said in his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in 1789,

“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor”

It is indeed the duty of every nation to obey the will of God.[pullquote]It is indeed the duty of every nation to obey the will of God.[/pullquote]

Furthermore, we affirm that many of the problems we face as a state and nation would not exist if God’s will was obeyed.

The Party believes that every citizen has the Constitutional right to pray, read the Bible or any religious text, and discuss his or her faith in private and in public, including the public schools of this state.

We applaud the efforts of the S. C. General Assembly to permit the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools. We urge school administrators and teachers to inform our public school students specifically of their First Amendment rights to pray and engage in religious speech, individually or in groups, on school property. “We support and strongly urge Congress to pass a Religious Freedom Amendment, which provides:

‘Neither the United States nor any state shall prohibit student–sponsored prayer in public schools, nor compose any official student prayer or compel joining therein.’

We urge the legislature to end censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents, and encourage discussing those documents” (2010 Texas Republican Party Platform p. 20).

We urge change of the Internal Revenue Code to allow a religious organization to address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status. We call for the repeal of requirements that religious organizations send the government any personal information about their contributors. The Party recalls other profound words of President George Washington,

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claims the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness – these foremost props of the duties of men and citizens.”

We recognize the Judeo-Christian ethic embraced by our founding fathers and call upon our State and Nation to return again to the values that made America and the American people great.

“We oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) “through which the federal government would coerce business owners and employees to violate their own beliefs by affirming what they consider to be sinful and sexually immoral behavior.”( 2010 Texas Republican Party Platform p. 10).

We encourage our leaders to be godly examples for our youth, to fear and honor God in all their actions, to be strong when pressured to compromise principle, and to have the courage to stand alone, if need be, when Godly leadership is needed.

“We urge Congress to sanction any foreign government that persecutes its citizens for their religion.” (2010 Texas Republican Party Platform p. 22).

“Republican leadership has made religious liberty a central element of American foreign policy. Asserting religious freedom should be a priority in all of America’s international dealings. We salute the work of the United States’ Commission on International Religious Freedom and urge special training in religious liberty issues for all United States diplomatic personnel.”(2008 Republican National Platform p.6)

In Subsection 7.2 of its platform, the South Dakota Republican Party “recognizes that our country was founded in faith upon the truth that self-government is rooted in religious convictions. The Constitution guards against the establishment of state-sponsored religions and honors the free exercise of religion. The courts must respect this freedom and the original intent of the framers of the Constitution.”

The Texas GOP’s 2012 platform is rife with religious language and proclaims that the United States is a “Judeo-Christian nation.” Some of the religious clauses include:

HONORING THE SYMBOLS OF OUR AMERICAN HERITAGE

Religious Symbols – We oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols.

Pledge of Allegiance – We support adoption of the Pledge Protection Act. We also urge that the National Motto “In God We Trust” and National Anthem be protected from legislative and judicial attack.

PROMOTING INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM AND PERSONAL SAFETY

Judeo-Christian Nation – As America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles, we affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice.

Safeguarding Our Religious Liberties – We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. We urge the Legislature to increase the ability of faith-based institutions and other organizations to assist the needy and to reduce regulation of such organizations.

Religious Liberties Abroad – We urge Congress to sanction any foreign government that persecutes its citizens for their religion.

Health and Human Services Mandates – We strongly oppose any federal or state requirement or other mandate to provide abortions or contraception and sterilization, since this would clearly violate many individuals, businesses, churches, and non-profit personnel’s faith and beliefs. Government must obey the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution!

Boy Scouts of America – We support the Boy Scouts of America and reject any attempt to undermine or fundamentally change the ideals of the organization.

Utah’s GOP platform affirms the right to pray in public in its “FREEDOM OF RELIGION” section: “We claim freedom of religion for every citizen and expect the protection of government in securing to us this unalienable right. We affirm the right to religious expression, including prayer, in both private and public.

The State of Washington’s Republican platform notes that “It has been over two centuries since our Founders established the American creed — government under God and accountable to the people” and includes a religious liberty section:

Section 1: We believe CIVIL and RELIGIOUS LIBERTY protect the sovereignty of the individual citizen.

Civil and religious liberties recognized in the U.S. Constitution are God-given and therefore unalienable. These fundamental liberties are protected in the Bill of Rights and reaffirmed in Article I of the Washington State Constitution. It is the obligation of government at every level to observe and respect these liberties. The role of the judiciary is to uphold the law in a manner faithful to the original intent of the state and federal constitutions. It is essential that the judiciary honor legislative intent and understand that the power to write law is vested in the legislature or the people.

It adds in Section 11: “We believe that upholding our RULE OF LAW and JUSTICE, based upon our Constitution and Judeo-Christian heritage, that recognizes INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY, best protects and promotes a moral society.”

Wisconsin Republicans say, “We believe separation between Church and State does not mean there can be no references to God in government- sanctioned activities or public buildings.” they echo their sentiments about public displays of religion in almost duplicate language contained in both the “Constitutional Rights” and “Freedom of Religion” sections of the party platform:

Constitutional Rights

We believe that our natural rights as embodied in the Constitutional begin at conception and continue until death.

We believe it is important to have references to God in the Pledge of Allegiance. As it states in the Declaration of Independence, “we are endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” which makes clear that certain rights can’t be taken away by government.

We believe statements regarding religion and morality made by the Founding Fathers are as important today as they were over 200 years ago.

We believe the language in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Declaration of Independence are very important and must be protected. We reject the idea that because the times change so must the meaning of the language in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Freedom of Religion

Separation between Church and State does not mean there can be no references to God in government sanctioned activities or public buildings.

We believe statements regarding religion and morality made by the Founding Fathers are as important today as they were over 200 years ago.

We believe the phrase- ‘One nation under God’- in the Pledge of Allegiance is perfectly in line with the United States Constitution, protected by the First Amendment.

We believe the Founding Fathers understood that religion and morality were important to creating and building this country and talked about it regularly.

We believe the best way to ensure religious freedom is to protect all religious references and symbols; including those on public buildings, lands, or documents. This includes prayer in public schools, thanking God in a graduation speech, and religious symbols being placed on public property during their appropriate holiday season.

We reject that this violates the U.S. Constitution and discriminates against those who are of other faiths or are not religious.

The Wyoming Republican Party’s platform simply states that “’In God we trust’ should not be removed from any currency or public building.”

Related Sections in this Story:

About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
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