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The Candidates on Religion
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So now the race has finally narrowed down to two contenders. At this point I'm leaning toward Obama, for somewhat superficial reasons. I like his youth and positive demeanor. His policies are extremely liberal, but hopefully we'll vote Republicans into Congress to keep him in check. But he's confident and articulate, and as an iconic leader you couldn't ask for much more. He's inexperienced as well, and my one concern is foreign policy, but I also think it is possible that Obama could sow good will among our allies and make necessary alliances should we need to fight another conflict in the near future.

Anyway, let's take a closer look at the candidates' views on religion. First of all, here's John McCain pandering to the Religious Right in an interview with BeliefNet:

Even though this video is chopped up, and McCain actually qualified some of those statements, some of the things he says are still pretty bad, and pretty ignorant. He talks about "In God We Trust" as if it was invoked by the Founding Fathers, when it actually became the national motto in 1956, in reaction to the Soviets.

McCain is in the unenviable position of having to pander to the hardcore religious subset of the Republican base, but I just can't muster up a lot of sympathy for him on this one.

Obama, on the other hand, does a little better. From his website, here are his Faith Principles:

  • God is constantly present in our lives, and this presence is a source of hope.

  • Progressives should boldly approach matters of faith and values.

  • As Joshua built on the work of Moses, leaders of today – the ‘Joshua Generation’ – must build of the foundation of previous generations to move our nation forward.

  • Faith should not be used as a wedge to divide.

  • The separation of church and state is critical and has caused our democracy and religious practices to thrive.

  • We are a nation of many faiths and of those with no faith at all. The religious practices of all must be respected.

  • Faith is a source of action for justice.

  • Government alone cannot solve all of our problems – we have an individual responsibility to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper.

I kind of wish he'd put those in a different order, but at least he's got some important points in there, re: the separation of church and state (which McCain downplays), and the specific reference to non-believers. I still blanch at the idea of invoking faith as if it's a virtue, rather than a vice, but based on this issue alone, I'd go with Obama.

Of course, I won't be going on this issue alone. I'm still looking forward to the debates. I heard on the news yesterday that McCain is pressing for 10 Town Hall events over the next couple of months, while Obama is suggesting debates closer in format to the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which candidates could pose questions directly to each other and would have longer allotments of time in which to respond.

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