Separation of Church and State on Easter?
Easter Sunday brought about a great deal of political debates on whether the recent political topics and presidential policies should be incorporating religious topics. Recently, Cardinal Timothy Dolan argued that religion most assuredly has a place in politics. Cardinal Dolan opinionates that John F. Kennedy’s speech on separation of church and state in politics is often misconstrued, and that the late President truly meant that churches should not specifically tell voters who to choose as their representatives. Dolan believes Kennedy wanted voters to choose the best candidate for their religious beliefs, but not to be herded to the polls like sheep. “I would’ve cheered what John Kennedy said, he was right,” Dolan said. “That having been said, I would also say that Senator Santorum had a good point because unfortunately what John Kennedy said… has been misinterpreted to mean that a separation of Church and State also means a cleavage, a wall, between one’s faith and one’s political decisions” (Caldwell 1).
Dolan also believes however, that government mandating policies to the church is a breach of the Constitution and freedom in America. Dolan argues that President Obama’s policies regarding mandatory healthcare and birth control provision for religious entities whose doctrines believe birth control is against their beliefs, are beyond the government’s realm of influence. Dolan finds himself caught between the views of both Rick Santorum and Kennedy. Santorum after watching Kennedy’s speech, goes on record stating, “I almost threw up. In my opinion it was the beginning of the secular movement of politicians to separate their faith from the public square” (Associated Press 1). Santorum believes that the country has become decidedly secular, and that the lack of religion in politics is what is causing many of America’s problems.
Santorum’s comments have created quite a negative buzz as well, with many religous groups wanting his resignation from the political race. “Richard Land, a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, said Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum should think about leaving the presidential race. In an interview which aired Sunday on “Face the Nation,” Land said that Santorum, who is trailing front-runner Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican nomination, ‘ought to seriously consider leaving the race now’”(Caldwell 1).
Many voters according to the polls listed below believe as many religious leaders and politicians do, that there should be a separation of church and state. Many voters believe that there is not too much religion in politics, but like Dolan voters do not agree with policies that mandate religious organizations dictating choices that alter a belief system. According to Neela Banerjee of the LA Times, “ All agreed that there should be separation of church and state. Land said that separation came under threat when the state made decisions that affected religious belief, like legalizing abortion. As many conservative Christians have long insisted, Cortes and Land said secular forces are trying to silence religious, especially Christian, voices in public discourse” (Banerjee 1).
The following statistics and charts prove that many people feel religion is acceptable in politics, but the reversal is not true:
Views of Churches’ Involvement in Politics
A majority of Americans (54%) say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters, while 40% say they should express their views on social and political questions. After a decade in which the balance of opinion tilted in the opposite direction, this is the third consecutive survey in the past four years in which more people say churches should keep out of politics than say churches should express their views on social and political issues.
There also are significant divisions on this issue among religious groups. A majority of white evangelical Protestants (60%) say that churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political issues. The views of this group have changed little since 2006, even as the public as a whole has increasingly taken the view that religious institutions should keep out of politics.
Black Protestants are divided on this question, with 51% saying churches should express their views and 43% saying they should keep out of politics. By contrast, in July 2006, 69% of black Protestants said churches and other houses of worship should express their views on social and political issues.
Majorities of the religiously unaffiliated (66%), Catholics (60%) and white mainline Protestants (60%) say churches and other houses of worship should steer clear of politics (Pew Research 1).
The debate will continue on as to whether or not there is too few or too much religous involvement in the affairs of state, but one thing that all seem to agree on is that there is too much government involvement in religion.
8, Neela Banerjee April. “Religion, Politics Dominate Easter Sunday Talk Shows.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 08 Apr. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-religion-and-politics-dominate-easter-sunday-talk-shows-20120408,0,4527968.story>.
Caldwell, Leigh A. “Religious Leader to Santorum: Exit the Race.” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 08 Apr. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3460_162-57410850/religious-leader-to-santorum-exit-the-race/>.
Caldwell, Leign Ann. “Cardinal Dolan: Gov’t Contraception Policy a “radical Intrusion”” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 08 Apr. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3460_162-57410841/cardinal-dolan-govt-contraception-policy-a-radical-intrusion/?tag=morningLeadStoriesAreaMain;ftnLeadHero>.
“NYC Cardinal Says Faith Has Place in Politics.” Wall Street Journal Online. 8 Apr. 2012. Web. 8 Apr. 2012. <http://online.wsj.com/article/APf8f1e35b2d0046a49c9782e6dc3fd472.html#articleTabs%3Darticle>.
Pew Research Center. “More See “Too Much” Religious Talk by Politicians – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.” Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Pew Research Center, 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://www.pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/more-see-too-much-religious-talk-by-politicians.aspx>.
“Public Religion Research Institute.” Public Religion Research Institute. 15 Mar. 2012. Web. 08 Apr. 2012. <http://publicreligion.org/research/2012/03/march-rns-2012-research/>.