Kent Bush: Republicans need to stop religious wrangling
As more and more studies say Americans are becoming less and less religious, the Republican presidential primary is putting petty focus on the faith of the candidates.
Religion is important to me as a voter. I have a Christian worldview and I want the people for whom I vote to share a similar perspective. After all, I am a member of the denomination that forced John F. Kennedy to defend himself as a Catholic in 1960.
At the time, being a Catholic was quite a scandal for JFK. In 2012, Mitt Romney tried to become the nation’s first President who was also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
In 2008, President Barack Obama first had to fight off murmurs that he was a Muslim thanks to his name and his father’s heritage and then had to fight off controversy thanks to crazy ramblings of his Christian pastor. Thursday night, Donald Trump took those wacko claims even further when he appeared to agree with a man who attended a New Hampshire rally who wanted to rid this country of its No. 1 problem – Muslims. Trump has said he wants to deport all illegal immigrants. Apparently this man wanted to do the same with all followers of Islam.
The man went on to say Obama isn’t from America and called the President a Muslim.
This happened in 2015.
Trump did nothing to dissuade the man. He assured the intellectually challenged and biased individual – who not so coincidentally was also a Trump supporter - that as president he would do a lot of things about that issue.
When pressed on it after the rally, Trump’s campaign could only comment that Obama was “waging a war against Christians.”
This year’s comparative religiosity where candidates compete for perfect attendance pins and Bible drills to try to move the polls is unsettling.
Trump has been divorced multiple times and once described himself as very pro-choice before becoming a candidate in a primary where being pro-life is politically expedient. Now he is questioning the faith of the current president and other candidates in the race. He took on Ben Carson by pointing out that the pro-life doctor used to do research on aborted fetuses.
Carson said he didn’t get the impression from Trump’s public persona that he was a devout person. Trump shot back that Carson wasn’t always religious – as he purports he is as a candidate.
Some in the media have even called Trump’s church to see if he is an active member – he is not – and have pushed him to name his favorite Bible verse.
Trump defended his faith saying he was a “big league believer of God and the Bible.”
This is disturbing.
Real faith isn’t manifested in feats of strength and Bible quizzes.
Mike Huckabee – who used to be a Southern Baptist pastor – always bases his quality as a candidate on the degree of his faith.
Because of that, Huckabee even said he would go to jail for in place of Kentucky Court Clerk Kim Davis who was incarcerated because she wouldn’t grant marriage licenses to same sex couples.
He wants the religious right to interpret it as a valiant offer. It is really just more snake oil from a man who knows that he lives in America where our court system would never allow that and not Panem where he could offer himself up in tribute.
I would never argue that a candidate’s faith isn’t an important factor. But pandering for votes is not a religious activity.
These false claims, litmus tests and consecrated contests cheapen faith in general and make voters more cynical about religion and politics.
Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.