The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Is God running the country now?

“Legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

These were the ideals of one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson. In his opinion, religion is a personal practice and should not be in politics. Even our Constitution states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

However, none of this has stopped politicians from using their religion to gain supporters and attacking the religion of their opponent. I am not saying that it is bad to be religious, but I strongly disagree with using your religion as a campaigning tool or using it to decide laws. And in my opinion, we seem to have lost one of the ideals our Founding Fathers passed on: separation of church and state.

With the U.S. being one of the most religious countries, it is not hard to see how religion became such a mainstream topic. The aftermath has left our nation divided into many sects that spend the days bickering over which religion is the “true” religion. While usually our politicians try to avoid religious subjects, media and social demand has brought many religious topics into politics.

For instance, during his interview with Mitt Romney, NBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell made several derogatory comments about Mormonism.

It was not until after many offended parties demanded an apology that he gave one.

The media and some politicians have turned topics such as gay marriage, abortion and war into debates between religious morality and social morality.

All this does is further the separation and tension between the groups. Rather than presenting the topics in an informed and non-biased way, the news seems to deliberately try to find the extremists on both sides of the argument for information.

Then there are the politicians who preach against the separation of church and state, who wish to turn this nation into a new Christian nation. In a recent study done by the Pew Research Center, it was found that around nearly 40 percent of Americans, “say there has been too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders,” in the recent term, a significant increase from the average 20–25 percent. Some of the presidential candidates, such as Michele Bachmann, even resorted to asking for their religion’s votes and support.

During his bid for presidency, Rick Santorum tried to use his religion to gain voters by trying to increase public outcry on some of the
aforementioned subjects.

“Just because public opinion says something, doesn’t mean something’s right if it’s not right,” said Santorum during a rally sponsored by the Christian group Family Leader in Des Moines, Iowa. “Unless we protect it with the institution of marriage, our country will fail.”

This was shocking to hear after he claimed at the start of his campaign that he would not let his private beliefs interfere with matters of public opinion.

There is a reason why the U.S. Constitution says that no religious test shall be required as a qualification of office — politicians are not supposed to bring their religions into office. I understand that is a lot to ask someone to not use the teachings and moral preachings one has learned since they were young in their job.
Understand, it is not just politics or just religion I am annoyed with. It’s the combination of both that quite a few politicians embody today.

Last I checked, senators and congressmen were supposed to represent the people of their province, not their personal religion. They should be making their decisions based off what they know on the subject, not what they believe.

I’ll finish with a quote from the Treaty of Tripoli, signed in 1797: “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen, and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

Despite our belief that differences between religions will never cause our country to go to war against another, it seems to not apply for our own country.

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