Religion should not mix with politics

By: Olivia Martin

In the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, there is the implication of the separation of Church and State. Founding father Thomas Jefferson helped coin the phrase. If a secular government was something that the founding fathers were trying to achieve (after all, they fled England to get away from a repressive Christian government), then why are modern politicians campaigning for president using their religion as a selling point instead of their ideas? Politicians who openly practice their religion is something I have no problem with. But, when they begin to act as if their religion is one of their platforms, then it has simply gone too far.

One person who has been particularly invested in “god talk” is Marco Rubio. In a TV advertisement, Rubio said, “Our goal is eternity, the ability to live alongside our Creator for all time. To accept the free gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ … The purpose of our life is to cooperate with God’s plan.” Ted Cruz similarly uses his religion as a personal selling point. My question is, what does that have to do with politics? What does this tell me about what they will do for our country?

I fear that those politicians who are playing up their religions are doing so to get votes from those who share their faith. Instead, I would much rather see people supporting candidates because of their platforms on important issues facing our country instead of supporting them just because they practice the same religion.

Another problem with politicians over-involving their religion in their campaigns is that it is very exclusionary to people who practice different religions. In America, we pride ourselves on being a diverse country that is built on freedoms, and notably, the freedom of religion, which can be found in the First Amendment. This is why it is sad to see Republican politicians cater only to the Christians in our country. (I’d like to be more nonpartisan here, but to be honest, the Republican Party has placed much more emphasis on religion than the Democrats.) According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of the country considers themselves Christian, and 25 percent consider themselves to be Evangelicals. That still leaves many others who practice other religions or none at all. Although Christians are the majority, how do you think the non-Christian outliers feel if politicians are preaching about their god and acting like that god is the only one who exists? Just take another quote from Rubio as an example: “Our nation should hope that our next president is someone who every day and every night and at every moment drops to their knees and asks the Lord for guidance and asks the holy spirit for inspiration and asks him for wisdom. The wisdom of Solomon to make difficult decisions on behalf of the greatest and most important country.”

Republican candidates need to realize that it’s not just Christians who make up the United States of America. By making their religions such a big part of the campaign, they are excluding all of the other Americans who are Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu or even atheist. Religious politics that only observe one set of beliefs is ultimately divisive. There is good reason why we are a democracy rather than a theocracy. If you’re wondering how that pans out, just look at the Middle East. Instead of focusing so much on religion, political discourse should be about the major issues affecting our country that make a difference for everyone, no matter their race, gender, age and, yes, religion.

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