Call for religious respect on U.S. campaign trail

January 16, 2008

rtx4spi.jpgDALLAS – A group of Catholic, evangelical and mainline Protestant leaders have asked that religion not be used to advance partisan political agendas on the presidential campaign trail.

The statement, signed by over two dozen priests, pastors and theologians, says that religion has intruded into the primary season in what the signatories see as troubling ways.

“In this year’s presidential campaign, we are troubled to see candidates pressed to pronounce the nature of their religious beliefs, asked if they believe every word of the Bible… and faced with prejudicial analyses of their denominational doctrines,” it says.

The statement was issued by Faith in Public Life and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, two organizations dedicated in different ways to bridging gaps between faiths and focusing on issues of social justice.

The statement lines out three basic principles it would like candidates and their supporters from both parties to follow:

1. That religious differences should not be used to marginalize or disparage candidates.

2. That candidates should acknowledge “that no faith can lay exclusive cliam to the moral values that enrich our public life.”

3. “While it is appropriate for candidates to connect their faith to their policy positions, their positions on policy must respect all citizens regardless of religious belief.”

Religion has popped up frequently on the trail, which is unsurprising in America, where levels of belief and church attendance are far higher than those in Europe.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney felt compelled last month to give a speech in which he pledged that his Mormon faith would not run the White House; rival Mike Huckabee is an ordained Baptist preacher who sprinkles his speeches with Biblical allusions; and the leading Democrats have also spoken openly about their religious beliefs.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

— Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria (Obama at a church in Iowa in December.)

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