Everything that makes up a presidential candidate should be fair game in politics (except their families). But, those calling for civility in society are often the very ones using forked tongues. Hate talk is with us for good, I suppose, however, where there’s a down side, there’s an up. And, the up part of dragging different faiths through the slop is: The attacks tend to unite diverse churches. Overall, God worshipers can relate to one another.
As we know, President Obama has taken on Catholic doctrine, thus the church itself, thus the more than 40 percent of all church-goers here in Maricopa County who are Catholic. (Source: Jones, Dale E., 2002). I guess we can assume this is some kind of political strategy, but why would Obama rile-up the largest church in America? (68 million members as per Wikipedia).
Some say it’s about the female vote, but truth is, women are highly faith-based so now he’s put them in conflict with themselves. Of course, they desire affordable health care, but statistics show most American women also believe in God (94 percent; see Gallup Poll 6.6.11) and we know how women are: They will want the same for their children. Let’s see, physical health, spiritual health. Hum. The charismatic president has created war within a woman, herself. Let’s see how that works out.
Actually, it’s a distraction from what matters most at this time: Bringing home a paycheck. But, let’s look at religion in politics for a little longer here.
Recently, Cardinal Timothy Dolan visited Face the Nation. (See the New York Times 4.8.12). He said, “We didn’t ask for the fight, but we’re not going to back away from it,” referring to the contraceptive mandate issued by Obama’s administration. (Note: The president’s later compromise did not appease the church.) Then Bob Schieffer raised the question over religion in politics.
The cardinal insisted it has its place: “I think the public square is impoverished when people might be coerced to put a piece of duct tape over their mouth, keeping them from bringing their deepest-held convictions to the conversations.”
With Romney, pundits are predicting a nuclear explosion over his faith. We know John Kennedy weathered that storm as a Catholic, Obama over Reverend Wright, and now Romney gets his turn. With this precedent in the “land of the free,” we can assume the progressive party, which feigns extreme concern over the lack of civility, will lead the way in example: civility amid serious search for insight.
Of course, that discussion of a candidate’s religion being fair game came up in the Schieffer interview. The cardinal said, “There may be reasons not to vote for Mitt Romney … that he’s a Mormon cannot be one of them.” Then Dolan told of the recent reaction to that statement at the Anti-Defamation League conference. It received a standing ovation.
I remember a decade ago when critics were offended that President George Bush admitted he prayed in the White House. I wrote then that apparently his critics would prefer that he confine his information gathering to mere humans who may or may not have done their homework or who rely on faulty sources. Or, they would rather that he watch the polls, which are generally skewed, or defer to the highest bidder in the world community. Go figure.
Avenues to truth are most often a maze. Some people fall far short, choose evil, and bloody the earth. Some are fence-sitters developing saddle sores. And, some of us deeply, deeply believe in spiritual reflection and seek devotion to access our highest selves. Those who fear that process, a process that is available to all, deny themselves by omission.
But as earlier mentioned, religion as a qualification in this election season is another distraction from the most critical of all issues. To borrow from an old mantra: It’s the economy, stupid.
East Valley resident Linda Turley-Hansen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist and former Phoenix veteran TV anchor.