RELIGION & THE 2012 ELECTIONS
By Alan Caruba
Calvin Coolidge, President from 1923 to 1929, said:
Ronald Reagan echoed this view saying: “Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.”
For Barack Obama, Sundays have often been devoted to playing golf. A self-declared Christian, there are widespread concerns that he was and is a Muslim, given his childhood as the adopted son of an Indonesian Muslim, his mother’s second husband. In the 2008 presidential election campaign, he managed to overcome the fact that his spiritual mentor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, led a Chicago church with a doctrine of Black Liberation theology that was frequently highly critical of America.
When John F. Kennedy ran for office, the question was whether his being Catholic would play a role in whether he could be elected. He put that question to rest. Obama had to sever his ties with Reverend Wright in order to seek and win election.
As Mitt Romney closes in on the Republican nomination, some Liberals are already sniping at his Mormon faith. Rick Santorum’s emphasis on the strictures of his faith has played an unknown factor in his fluctuating fortunes.
The Gallup organization began systematically tracking religion in 1948, asking Americans to name the major religion with which they personally identified. Back then, two percent (2%) of Americans volunteered “no religion” and another three percent (3%) had an otherwise unidentified religious identity. By the 1970s, the number of Americans with no formal religious identity began to increase, reaching eleven percent (11%) by 1990.
By 2010, sixteen percent (16%) said they had no religious identity or had an otherwise undesignated response. A Gallup analysis noted:
The Gallup polling demonstrates that eighty-four percent (84%) of Americans, a huge majority, do identify themselves as affiliated in some fashion, formal or not, with a faith of choice.
Drawing on two surveys, the General Social Survey and the National Congressional Study, Mark Chavez, a Professor of Sociology, Religion, and Divinity at Duke University, author of American Religion: Contemporary Trends, concluded that traditional belief and practice is relatively stable, but that confidence in religious institutions has declined more than confidence in secular ones.
In a March 3, 2012 Wall Street Journal commentary, Peggy Noonan wrote:
The current firestorm over the Obamacare mandate that contravenes personal conscience, a pillar of all religions, has ignited a debate over the separation of Church and State. The U.S. Constitution specifically forbids “the establishment” of a state religion and, by extenstion, forbids the U.S. central government from coming between an individual’s spiritual beliefs and the government's demands.
Coolidge also said:
Religion is hardwired into humans. From the Stone Age onward, we have created religions as a means to cope with an often dangerous and indifferent world, and to peer into what Shakespeare called “The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.” Consciously or not, three years into President Obama’s term, millions of Americans are reexamining their religious beliefs and I suspect this will play an important role in the outcome of the 2012 elections.
Americans may have grown more secular in their general outlook, but there is still that inner voice, their relationship with the faith into which they were born or they embraced — their soul — and the historic distrust of big government that will shape the outcome of the election.
The Founding Fathers believed that only men of “virtue” could lead America and only citizens who practiced virtue in their lives could preserve and protect the Republic. They were right.
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Alan Caruba's commentaries are posted daily at Warning Signs, his popular blog -- and thereafter on dozens of other websites and blogs. His monthly report on new books is posted at Bookviews.
A business and science writer, Caruba is the Founder of The National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information
about "scare campaigns" designed to influence public opinion and policy.
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