Did Saddleback “faith quiz” cross church-state divide?

August 20, 2008

John McCain, Rick Warren and Barack Obama at Saddleback Civil Forum, 17 August 2008/Mark AveryDid Rick Warren’s Saddleback Civil Forum with John McCain and Barack Obama violate the separation of church and state? Was it right for a pastor to ask U.S. presidential candidates about their belief in Jesus Christ or their worst moral failures? Will the success of the Saddleback Civil Forum mean that major televised interviews or debates about faith will become a regular fixture in American political campaigns?

I didn’t think questions like this got enough of an airing in U.S. media before Saturday’s event. The fact that Warren made it such an interesting evening made me think the fundamental question — should there be a televised “faith quiz” at all? — would be crowded out of the public debate. The initial reactions angled on the winner/loser question or the “cone of silence” issue seemed to bear this out. But some commentators and blogs are now zeroing in on the deeper question.

Obama and Warren, 17 August 2008//Mark AveryIn the New York Times, columnist Willian Kristol (Showdown at Saddleback) applauded the event and said: “Rick Warren should moderate one of the fall presidential debates.” That says a lot about the quality of the usual televised debates but little about the church-state question. Ruth Ann Dailey’s op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette put her answer about the church-state question right in the headline: At Saddleback, the wall stands firm.

On the other side, Kathleen Parker wrote in the Chicago Tribune that Candidates’ church chat erodes U.S. principles. DeWayne Wickham of USA Today wrote the Next president need not be the vicar of Saddleback.

Hat tip to the Washington Post On Faith blog for probably the most comprehensive selection of views for, against and in the middle. This is not a simple question and it was good to see so many thoughtful responses.

McCain and Warren, 17 August 2008/Mark AveryAs religion editor, I naturally have a strong professional interest in seeing religion discussed in public. I also think a candidate’s religious views are relevant when they clearly shape his or her political stands. So I’m not against asking such questions in principle. But a session like the Saddleback Civil Forum raises some fundamental questions about the role of religion in politics and where lines between the two should be drawn. There is no hard and fast rule. Anyone who reads religion news from around the world regularly, though, has surely seen enough cases of politics interfering too much in religion or religion interfering too much in politics to take the issue of church-state relations lightly. Just saying “it can’t happen here” isn’t good enough.

Since television loves to repeat a successful formula, it’s a good bet we’ll see more of these sessions in campaigns to come. With that in mind, here are a few questions I hope to see debated before the next “God quiz” rolls around:

  • Has this “soft” kind of interview created a “soft” religious litmus test? One that does not require a certain religious belief, but some religious belief, to pass?
  • Is there a border line between appropriate and inappropriate questions? Are some questions too prying, something only for a private session with a spiritual advisor?
  • If there is going to be one televised faith “showdown,” should it should be conducted by only one interviewer from a specific faith tradition? Does that skew the questions to the kinds of questions that faith tradition asks, and favour answers that faith tradition gives? Does it give the impression that questions that are high priority for that tradition — in this case, evangelical — are the only faith questions out there?
  • What about Jews, Muslims and others, even other Christian denominations? Are they overlooked in this process? Would a mixed panel of interviewers be more inclusive?
  • What about atheists and voters who believe such events violate the separation of church and state? Will they have a televised forum?

Catholic confession at church festival in Belarussian village of Budslav, 1 July 2008/Vasily FedosenkoP.S. Since we take a world-wide view of religion news, I did a quick search for comments on the event in some non-U.S. media. It’s striking how many chose the term “confession” to describe the event.

U.S. religious forum would not have happened here – The separation of church and state is more notional than real in the U.S. (Montreal Gazette, Canada)

Obama&McCain:Confession in front of puritans (Journal du Dimanche, France)

McCain and Obama confess their sins (Elsevier, Netherlands)

Campaign launched for religious voters — Obama and McCain “confessed” to the pastor of the nation (DieStandard.at, Austria)

McCain trumps Obama at faith summit (Spiegel Online, Germany)

“Television Confessional” (Financial Times Deutschland, Germany)

Religion test for Obama and McCain – an unusual event in the U.S. campaign (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland)

Obama and McCain proceed to the media confessional (Libération, France)

Obama and McCain reveal their dark sides on stage (La Stampa, Italy)

Confession road to the White House (El Periódico de Catalunya, Spain)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Absolutely did. Shame on them and anyone who watched it.

Posted by Jason | Report as abusive

Both men claim to be men of Christianity and both men are vying for the faith vote. If they intend to disclose their personalities to their voters, and I think personality is a necessary element of life and indeed, social interaction, then the concept of faith impacting said personality is conclusive. These men had an obligation to disclose their ideas to a community to which they belong. Had these been Jewish or Muslim candidates, then the same representational forum of associated beliefs and the candidates reactions and thoughts on their approach to these issues would be equally relevant. If a man or woman of faith claims to keep his or her faith, no matter what religious view is held, out of his or her everyday decision making, then he or she is not a man of faith. There are no conditions, even atheism, where a moral and belief based forum should be thought of as overstepping the boundry of church and state. Even atheists base their beliefs on something, and these beliefs are in turn are a reflection of their personalities.

Posted by karlthomas | Report as abusive

I didn’t realized the two candidates where court ordered to appear on the show. Also, did the US Government mandate that all television air the program? Did Saddleback Church take control of all broadcast station? If neither of these two events occurred, then didn’t anyone who tuned in to see the show just practice their God given free will?

Posted by Matt Thompson | Report as abusive

It was sad. They answered the questions based on what they thought they should say and not what they actually felt. Loved the one about “marriage” – why can’t they just be honest. Oh – they’re politicians!

Posted by Wayne | Report as abusive

Shame, shame, shame on everyone involved in this Evangelical litmus test.

Where is the respect for the U.S. Constitution that a candidate for President should show?

Posted by Evangeline | Report as abusive

Separation of church and state does not exist in the constitution. All it says is that congress will make no law establishing an official religion for this country. There is no “Separation of church and state” as the liberal biased media like to call it.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

Give me a break. They both claim they are Christians, so asking them to put their money where their mouths are should be a non-issue.

This whole separation of church and state thing is so misunderstood. The intent was never to keep God out of the government. It was intended to keep the government out of YOUR God so that you are free to worship and serve whichever God you see fit. It was never meant to enforce the stance that religion is a private matter. That’s a purely Western ideal. Really. Get over it already.

Posted by Amy | Report as abusive

Saddleback Church should most certianly lose their tax exempt status as should their pastor, Rick Warren, and all other clergy of that denomination. We enjoy separation of chuch and state in this country. Isn’t that true ???? I hope that the IRS is already on top of this . Thank you.

Posted by Carol Jones | Report as abusive

While it is interesting to see what non-US media have written about the forum, it is irrelevant. What other countries share America’s Christian roots? From the Pilgrams to the early Founding Fathers – this country’s laws and precepts were based on Judeo-Christian beliefs and values. While there has always been a teneuous line seperating church and state, the core values of this country for generations were the same. The great melting pot has encouraged people of all faiths (and no faith) to live and prosper, the fact remains that as a country, under God, we are overwhelmingly Christian.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

The “Church-State” separation has nothing to do with this debate. If you research the origins of this “separation”, it comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to a church, advising the church to not seek government funding, as that would allow the church to be controlled by the government. It is not a written law anywhere. I wish more Americans would do their homework and learn what it’s really about! Most of the time when this issue is cited, it is done so incorrectly. So, it does not violate “separation of church and state” because that’s not at all what Jefferson intended for it to be.

Posted by Lesa | Report as abusive

There is no evidence “god” even exists. Leave fairy tells out of important political debates please.

Posted by Griffin Lochner | Report as abusive

Are voters on the same level as jurors now? Are we required to disregard certain evidence in the voting booth the same as in the jury room? Are voters going to be prosecuted for violating the Constitution because their vote is influenced by a candidate’s religious principles?

I always thought that US citizens had the right to vote for any candidate based on any criteria they choose. I recall my grandmother voting for John F. Kennedy because she thought that he was handsome. When you ban Saddleback are you going to ban photos of the candidates too?

Posted by Wade Fogarty | Report as abusive

Yes it did, and in a most dangerous way, for this right-wing conservative Christian vetting session posed as a democratic political forum. The gullible masses who watched and soaked it all up will only be further swayed to forget that the office for which these men are running is a diplomatic and administrative position, albeit the top one in these United States, and not that of pope, bishop, minister, spiritual leader, shepherd, dad or superhero. The people need to remember whom to turn to for what.

Posted by A. Khymmson | Report as abusive

Would the people (including the foreign news outlets) reacted in the same way if Obama did better? I think so.

Warren applied no litmus test. Warren does not decide who becomes president. I do not understand the hubbub over this.

If any Rabbi, Imam, Daoist Priest, Buddhist Monk, Pagan Leader, Shaman, Agnostic or Atheist wants to organize a similar event, they are free to do it.

Posted by NateT | Report as abusive

Agreed Karl. A person’s worldview is very much a part of who they are. Also, liberal Christianity is much different than conservative Christianity. It’s important to know where the candidates stand in their faith.

Don’t just throw stones at the Saddleback discussion either. The CNN Youtube debate asked faith-based questions to the GOP nominees as well, yet nobody cried foul then.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

It was good because it allowed Christians to see that both candidates profess to be true Christians. The debate may have helped Christians realize that Obama is not Muslim but rather a sincere Christian.

Posted by MR Editor | Report as abusive

Just bringing this up as an issue is absolutely stupid. Since when should people believe in this liberal/socialist fear mongoring.

If they never READ the Constitution it could be disspelled as ignorance. But they have, they do this on purpose to twist the truth to cause doubt and confusion, all the time working hard to undermind our society.


I can’t wait for this misguided and politically driven generation of spoiled brats to all die off.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

I don’t recall them spending an hour each talking about their faith. Great forum. Good insight into each candidate. I guess the media is upset that they didn’t come up with the idea. Excellent job Rick!!!! How many people watched the event? How many people watched the repeat? Americans are interested!

Posted by Dr. Bill Gammon | Report as abusive

Oh, good grief! Get over it! All the politically correct schlock is really starting to wear thin. A forum for the candidates was conceived and presented. They both decided to participate, and nobody’s arm was twisted. That forum was a Christian forum… No surprises, no hidden agendas, no ambushes; it took place in a CHURCH and was conducted by a MINISTER! Anyone who did not want to watch was free to tune in to another channel. I thought that was what America was all about… freedom of choice! Everybody who participated CHOSE to participate. Everybody who watched CHOSE to watch. Get over it!

Posted by Garvie | Report as abusive

Just an educated observation: The ‘non-US media’ tagged this “faith quiz” interview as “confession” because these other countries (mostly western European, I noticed) are only familiar with the Catholic religion. I spent a year in France and there I saw that the word “Christian” implicitly means “Catholic.” It is assumed, no questions asked. Media representatives and most people in Western Europe wouldn’t even be able to explain the fundamental beliefs of Protestant Evangelicals. Calling this “Faith forum” a confession and comparing Western European Catholicism to Christianity in the US is apples and oranges. It just doesn’t work.

Posted by Leah | Report as abusive

Personally, I found the whole thing disturbing. Not so much because it happened, but because of how it revealed the deep fear of uncertainty that apparently motivates a large block of voters.

Let’s look at one question the pastor posed. This is a paraphrase, but basically, he asked: “Does evil exist and if so, should we attack it, negotiate with it, or ignore it?” This question reveals how much people want definitive answers about things that have none. Which evil? Under what circumstances? Can we attack evil, an abstract concept? Isn’t the question really saying, “should we attack people we perceive as evil?” If so, why not ask that? But even that question would be missing the point.

Wickedness on a scale that the government is likely to notice isn’t so simple to pin down. It’s a cultural phenomenon. It’s a culmination of many complex forces and tides of power and greed and hate and tradition and resistance all swirling around to make a mess. Evil isn’t something that you can attack or negotiate with. It’s not an entity! It doesn’t manifest as a person you can shoot or even a nation you can bomb. But I suspect the pastor would find this answer dissatisfying. It presents the world as uncertain. My answer would likely be dismissed as postmodern or relativistic. Well, to me, it seems like much of the religious community wants words that soothe their need for a simple, comprehensible world much more than they want words that represent reality accurately. And until the voting public prefers muddy, unseemly reality over illusions of black and white, we’re all, I fear, in a dangerous spot.

Posted by eric | Report as abusive

A church sponsored a political event. Exactly what level of clarity are you looking for before you admit that it violated the separation of church and state? It very clearly did.

Had Mr. Warren invited the 2 to his house for a chat and not dragged the name of his church into it then it would be a different story. Instead he chose to mix 2 things that should NEVER be mixed and throw in a shameless plug for his church at the same time. Of course a review of his history shows that he’s only interested in fame anyways.

Posted by Thomas | Report as abusive

Anybody who has the guts to confess his sins and shortcomings in public will make a good honest leader or at least possess one of the qualities of a true leader. Those who actually profess the double lifestyle that what congress men do in their private time has noting to do with anybody else, they worry me. A leader has to be the same in his private life as he is in the public eye. That is called transparency and maturity. That builds trust. It is easy to loose trust, but it takes a lot more effort to gain trust. Bohemian Grove, funny sexual orientations and secret societies for example. You wouldn’t let such a person that does rituals like that babysit your kids if you knew they do it, yet people vote for them to lead a country. You need absolute to rule society.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

I am constantly amazed at the misuse or misapplication of the term “separation of church and state”.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .” is the original intent of the phrase.

The term has been twisted to imply that religion, politics and government should have no relationship to each other. American government was formulated based upon Judeo/Christian values and to try to separate those values from our heritage and government will lead to its collapse.

Vast numbers of Americans still care that its future President is moral and has religious values close to their own. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and any Presidential candidate that does not meet that standard is unelectable in my view and will not garner my vote.

Posted by Paul Gathard | Report as abusive

I love how people throw around the phrase separation of church and state like it’s in the constitution (I dare you to find it there) without understanding what it really means or how the framers of the constitution intended it to be used. The exact wording that IS in the Constitution is this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” . Most of the early government officials were also members of the clergy and were seeking to protect the freedom to practice whatever religion they chose rather than have one religion be enforced on its people. Over time it has been twisted , misconstrued and misquoted in order persecute those that would freely practice their religion. People need to educate themselves before they start making uneducated statements. Nothing wrong or unconstitutional has been done here. This country was founded on Christian principles by mostly Christian leaders. Over time we became an example of tolerance and unity by allowing all religions the same freedoms and representation in this country. It is nice to see leaders who are open about what they believe and we should all be thankful that we have the freedom to question them. The only ones that should be ashamed are those that seek to violate our constitutional rights by removing every aspect of religion from our everyday lives by reinventing our forefathers words and intentions.

Posted by Mary | Report as abusive

I appreciate that this article is attempting to be unbiased; however, to call it the Saddleback “faith quiz” is itself misleading. Many of the questions had nothing to do with faith issues. Questions about abortion and conception would be just as appropriate in a forum hosted by a pro-choice group. Questions about confronting evil, defining who is “rich”, moral failures, etc. could just as well been asked by any journalist in any other setting. I say hats off to Pastor Warren for asking them, especially in a direct yet non-confrontational way.
The hot topic, though, seems to be whether it was/is appropriate to question candidates on their faith. We are voting for the candidate we feel will best represent us. Beliefs are the foundation of decision making. Therefore, since we live in a representative democracy, it is as appropriate to know a candidate’s faith and beliefs as it is to know their voting record.
Mr. Thompson’s comments are right on: The candidates responded to an invitation, the media responded to a newsworthy event. Any person or entity is free to ask the candidates to come speak. In fact, it would be very interesting to hear the candidates’ responses to the same questions asked in a forum hosted by groups with very different world-views. That could reveal the depths of the candidates convictions versus the desire to say what the audience wants to hear.
Finally, remember one of the purposes of the forum was to demonstrate that people of opposing viewpoints can still speak with civility. As Pastor Warren has said, you can disagree without being disagreeable. Neither Pastor Warren nor the audience acted in any way to degrade or demean the candidates when their responses were in opposition to their opinions or beliefs. It is unfortunate that this lesson – how to have a civil discussion – was lost upon the candidates as soon as they drove away. That in and of itself should reveal something about the candidates.

Posted by Don | Report as abusive

Of course, this violates the separation of church and state. The tax-exempt status of Saddleback Church should be revoked.

Its jaw-dropping to see the mass denial and rationalization. Reminds this history buff of a time in history when people convinced themselves of the existence of a supposed “international conspiracy of Jewish bankers” and a “stab in the back” explanation for the end of WWI.

Its amazing to watch the US hurl itself, through its own self-will, into self-destruction. I may be a citizen of the USA, but I no longer feel like I want to belong.

Posted by Andy | Report as abusive

Extremely Biased Title.

The phrase seperation of Church and State comes from a letter Jefferson wrote to Baptists. It was never voted upon by Congress and is not part of the Constitution.

Second point, neither candidate had to show up and be questioned. They both agreed to show up for their own reasons.

Finally Andy, no one is holding you back, you can leave anytime you want. Hope you change your mind about this country and I hope it doesn’t take the victory of politician A or B to do it.

Posted by Jay | Report as abusive

I believe George Washington had a few words to say upon his farewell address in Sept of 1796 “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indespensable supports…In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens…”

Posted by Sue Shisler | Report as abusive

[…] presidential candidates McCain and Obama created a spectacle on -of all networks- CNN, when they addressed questions about their faith and religious viewpoints, and how they affect their political […]

Posted by The God Pages » A message from God: Religion and politics don’t mix | Report as abusive

I sit in the middle of this. I do think that the conservative Christians have the right to ask the tough questions that pertain to their faith. As to those who say that the questions that where asked dont then their wrong. The Bible is clear on these issues. If you dont know that I suggest you pick it up and study it! However I think the church pays to much attention to politics. God doesn’t care about politics he cares about souls. Regardless of who is in office the mission of the church is still the same. However as a Christian I personally have a hard time voting on a leader who stands against my moral convictions.

Posted by Lyndsey | Report as abusive

Look, I’m strongly anti-religion. But let’s be objective. The separation of church and state goes one direction. The government can’t do religious stuff. That doesn’t mean churches can’t do political stuff. It’s really cut and dry. This Saddleback place can try to infuse their simple-minded, harmful worldview into the political process as much they want. It’s their fundamental right.

Posted by eric | Report as abusive

One of the best political events in decades. This is no different from the candidates annual visit before the NAACP. Candidates speak where they believe they can find a wide hearing. A huge number of Americans respect Dr. Warren and his ability to articulate a balanced view of faith and public life. Warren has done far more to earn the right to lead this kind of forum than the ivory tower journalists who normally dominate such events.

This has nothing to do with separation of Church and State and it is surprising that there are Americans who so poorly understand the historical and constitutional
meaning of this phrase. Freedom of religion does not require us to make politics free “from” religion.

Posted by Brett | Report as abusive

I don’t mean to be cynical, but it seems odd to me that anyone would take political candidates answers at such a function as a true, honest reflection of their beliefs. Of course, it is possible that they are not electioneering on stage, but these two men are there because they are candidates for president. But really, what chance does someone who isn’t a Christian of some denomination have for being elected president of this country? Any reader of Machiavelli would know it only makes good sense to say what they think people would want to hear. I have no idea if McCain or Obama or Bush are really devout men; all I know is if I wanted to be elected president, I would certainly follow Machiavelli’s advice and make sure I was in church every Sunday.

Jefferson didn’t seem to feel it was that important to be a Christian, or even any kind of a religious adherent. In Notes on the State of Virginia (I think it was) he mentions that it doesn’t matter if his neighbor worships one God or twenty gods, just so long as he and his neighbor are both treated equally and fairly *under the law.* And that’s what’s really important to me, not the president’s personal religious convictions, but will he uphold the law? That’s my trouble with the current president–he doesn’t, or he rewrites the law retroactively to fix whatever lawbreaking he’s already done.

Posted by Denise | Report as abusive

Well said, Denise. Good comment.

Posted by eric | Report as abusive

Eric – Warrens’ question on whether evil exists was followed by the options: ignore it, negotiate with it, contain it, or defeat it. No mention of “attack.” I am sorry that you based your entire statement on something Warren did not ask.

Regardless, please note that all but one of the options are ‘strategies’ for dealing with evil (ignore, negotiate and contain) while only one denotes an attitude about it: “defeat.”

Interestingly enough, the verb ‘defeat’ does not have an antonym. We cannot even imagine allowing evil to thrive. Thus, the default state of man recognizes evil as something that must be defeated (simplistic but abbreviated for time/space).

Okay then, we all agree that evil must be defeated. Yes, but this begs the question, how? Is it defeated by leaving it to its own devices (ignoring it)? By holding get-togethers (negotiating with it). Or by restricting its movements (containing it)? To be sure, there are a host of options to defeat evil as well, of which your use of “attack” could be considered one. So is “confronting” it, which was Obama’s response. It was not one of Warren’s options, but Obama’s answer, nonetheless.

To my point, after first having each candidate establish their belief that evil does exist, possibly a more effective question might have been: “Assuming you are opposed to allowing evil to flourish, how would you set about to defeat it?” At this point, both candidates would have been compelled to give their answer more than a canned response. That is to say, what does their strategy look like? What does “confronting” mean? How does one “follow to the gates of hell?”

I am not saying that either the candidate’s answers were either wrong or disingenuous, I just don’t know what form they might take or how I would recognize them in the real world. It would be my preference that questions be asked that would force the candidates to offer the public concrete solutions to the very real challenges that face the world today.

Posted by mark | Report as abusive

NO Religious TEST is required for public office. This seems a back-handed way of adding one. When is our country going to realize that we have many beliefs in this country (and none at all). It is well past time that Christianity looses its privileged position.

Posted by Louis Ogden | Report as abusive

Would we ask such questions of a surgeon or a car mechanic? The task of a public servant isn’t to get us into heaven but to address the hell of a mess we’ve made on earth.

Faith is blind, government shouldn’t be.

Posted by Sonia Kermaz | Report as abusive

Good comment, Sonia.

Posted by rudy | Report as abusive

Thank you Mark for the correction. I knew my memory of it wasn’t exactly right – hence my paraphrase disclaimer. But the substance of my point stands. Evil’s not an entity. Which evil? Under what circumstances? The question is a reification fallacy. (Search wikipedia for reification fallacy.)

You clarify the meanings of each of the options. For example you say: “By holding get-togethers (negotiating with it).” I reiterate – evil is an abstraction. You can’t call it up and schedule a meeting.

So, it is very unfortunate that my paraphrase wasn’t right. And I really do appreciate the correction. But my point is still right on the money. The question reveals a disturbing need for simple answers to meaningless questions.

Posted by eric | Report as abusive


Of COURSE McCain knows how many properties he owns. It just makes better sense to say “I’ll get back to you on that”, IN ORDER TO SPEND TIME DISCUSSING IMPORTANT ISSUES.

I’ve heard all my life that real estate is a great investment (long-term). I imagine McCain heard the same thing.

Senator Obama, how many states will you be presiding over if you get a term in the White House? — 57? Really? Well, we’ve known for months that Senator Obama might have trouble with his counting skills!

The fact is John McCain is the real deal. A man who put his country first before himself. He is a true patriot who is willing to stand up against a resurgent Russia, developing China and to continue the war against Al Qaeda.

Being a community organizer in Chicago, cannot compare to John McCain’s sacrifices for his country.

Vote for John McCain in 2008!

Posted by OBAMA HAS VISITED 57 STATES??? | Report as abusive

I’m not sure what the purpose of the Saddleback Session was, I did watch it just out of curosity. I learned nothing from it, McCain’s answeres were so scripted and memorized it was boring, my friends! If he used that term one more time I will scream. Equally, I was not impressed with Obama’s answers, although I truly believe that his answers were more personable, unlike my friends!

I would have never agreed to something of this nature, it proved nothing for Obama, amist his fellow republicans in the audience, it seemed to me it was a payback, for the NAACP convention that McCain attended.

Posted by Ann Burge | Report as abusive

Well, now that Steven Strang has left a vacancy for a religious endorsement, on the stage at Barack’s coronation ceremony, maybe Barack should come out of the closet and recruit the religious leaders who have always supported him … and, who Barack has always supported. Pastor Jeremiah Wright … Father Phleiger … and the rest of the radicals. But, we know Barack won’t do that, because even though that represents who Barack truly is … it wouldn’t help Barack deceive us … and get him elected. In November, vote for Senator John McCain, a man who truly loves America, with over 40 years of service and sacrafice … not Obama, an inexperienced, incompetent, empty suit, who is being agressively packaged and sold to the American people.

Posted by Gina | Report as abusive

Separation of Church and State is not in our Constitution. It is an error to condemn religions participation in voting, government, education, etc.

http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html #Am1
“Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

If it did appear in the Constitution, this is what it would NOT mean:

White House, House of Representatives, Senate:

Making decisions: ??? what to do ??? what to do ???

Suggestions for solutions: man’s idea, woman’s idea,
president’s idea, military’s idea, God’s word.

Unacceptable solution: God’s word.

God is His word, His wisdom, His guidance,
His protection and His faithfulness to His word.

In what important decision
would you want to ignore His wisdom?
Even unbelievers want righteous people in government. All things must be done the Divine-Way to have God’s blessings and not cursings of Leviticus 26.

Posted by Marie Devine | Report as abusive

For anyone trying to find the balance on this issue, check out Martin Marty’s eloquent post “Using God Politically” on On Faith (http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfa ith/martin_marty).

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Posted by: Tom Heneghan: “As religion editor, I naturally have a strong professional interest in seeing religion discussed in public. I also think a candidate’s religious views are relevant when they clearly shape his or her political stands. So I’m not against asking such questions in principle.”

Unlike Mr. Heneghan, Mr. & Mrs. Reader, I am against asking ANYBODY what their religious views are…INCLUDING those of politicians…and ESPECIALLY including the religious views of presidential candidates.

The referenced unconstitutional political-religious forum (i.e., so called Saddleback) is certainly worth commenting on…and strongly…from my point view. It was designed by Warren to trap Obama and was clearly a McCain/Warren v. Obama “extravaganza”.

Why an American presidential candidate feels that it is somehow necessary to cater (i.e., pander) to a particular religion…and in this case a particular protestant congregation (i.e., the Warren group)…is beyond me. Frankly, I’m astonished! I’m also astonished that the so called free press in America has not issued a public challenge to all politicians when it comes to their mixing of religion and politics/government. The First Amendment covers the press as well as religion…not to mention the freedom of speech that I am personally engaging in here through a Reuters web log.

First and foremost, the First Amendment (Bill of Rights) to the U.S. Constitution specifically prohibits the U.S. congress from making any law with respect to the establishment of ANY religion…and grants the personal irrevocable freedom to each American to exercise his/her personal religious beliefs (or lack thereof) in private, i.e., outside the public political policy arena.

The U.S. Constitution’s banning of congress from passing a bill with respect to religion means that no such bill can reach the president’s desk for signature. Therefore, the First Amendment also tells all Americans that the president cannot publicly dabble in any particular religious public policy either. That is, the president can do what he likes in private…but when it comes to exercising the office of the presidency, religion has no place in public policy.

This is not my idea, but I certainly agree with it…and to prove it, I (and not just Mr. McCain by the way) wore the active duty uniform of our great nation in wartime in a war zone to ensure the separation of church and state. For a quarter of a century, I was prepared to give my life to keep this separation of church and state, and would gladly do so again.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As far as I’m concerned, anything religious is a personal and private thing…and should remain so. This includes the personal and private beliefs of a presidential candidate.

A candidate simply cannot cater to one religion, without insulting all other religions. As a matter fact, catering to only one particular protestant voting block insults the Catholic voting block (and other protestant voter groups as well)…even though all are Christians. In other words, where does a candidate draw the line? The framers of the U.S. Constitution figured this out more than 2 centuries ago!

Personally, I think that catering to protestant evangelicals is simply catering to white voters. It is nothing more than a masquerade for racial favoritism. Mr. McCain, for instance, has not tried to hide his racial courting of voters. Neither did Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Obama is now resorting to the same thing. Unfortunately for him, his white half doesn’t show…so it is much more difficult for him to court white voters who vote according to their race.

Since the dawn of man, more people have been killed in the name of religion (to include Christianity) and racial purity than for any other reasons. This is precisely why the founding fathers, i.e., the framers of the U.S. Constitution, specifically banned any relationship between government and religion. Of course, they did this through the Bill of Rights, i.e., the first of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights required ratification of 3/4 of the states.

Mr. Warren knows as well as anybody, that he and his congregation are making an obvious end run around the U.S. Constitution by preaching politics from the pulpit. Perhaps if his nontaxable status was questioned, he (and his religious group) would keep their personal beliefs private (i.e., out of the public policy arena)…instead of literally throwing them in the face of others by trying to make Americans believe that a presidential candidate’s faith (or lack thereof) is a constitutional litmus test for election to the presidency. As a matter of fact, Warren and his protestant evangelical group are making Christianity itself a litmus test for election to the presidency! How blatantly unconstitutional can these people possibly get!

I’ve been watching this type of unconstitutional nonsense for a long time, and it scares me just as much if not more than the Russians or the Iranians do. It is what I call the sabotage of “this Constitution for the United States of America”…sabotage from within. As a matter of fact, all of our First Amendment rights, privileges and responsibilities are under fire…and have been for a long time. This applies especially to the past 8 years of an administration whose members have been masquerading as being Christ-like in order to garner the votes of such as Mr. Warren and his group.

Frankly, it has been both embarrassing and disgusting to have to watch all of this…just as watching the Clinton administration was (only for different reasons).

After 16 long years, I’m looking forward to getting some fresh air in Washington…both on Capitol Hill and at the White House. I’ve got my fingers crossed…real tight.

OK Jack

Posted by OK Jack | Report as abusive

A retired Naval Office, I have been a member of a Southern Baptist Church sice 1953. For Rick Warren, a fellow Southern Baptist, to compose a list of questions that merely reflected the talking points of McCain was inexcusable and reflects extrememly poor judgement on his part..

Posted by RAYCRETIRED | Report as abusive