Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

26 August 2008

Pastor-In-Chief?

By Diana Hsieh

This letter to the editor in The Tennessean was a breath of fresh air:

Cal Thomas' column, "Forum exposes Obama's faith flaws," exposes his and many other voters' "faith flaws." My preference would have been that the candidates respectfully declined the invitation to attend the Saddleback Civil Forum.
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Their very participation furthers the notion that we are electing a pastor-in-chief, rather than a president for the United States. Our hard-won right to a government that is not based on a particular religions' beliefs — a secular government — is undermined by questions to candidates on their religious faith.

Questions like "What does it mean to trust in Christ?" create a religious test for public office and should have no place in the political discourse for a secular office. America is the most religiously diverse country in the world, and Christianity is only one of those faith traditions. Millions of voters could feel disenfranchised by this and some of the other questions posed in this forum.

Certainly our religious beliefs and values and practices should have an impact on politics and policy. Most important issues of the day have moral components and many have been brought into the public arena. However, different faith traditions lead to different positions on public issues.

No one religion has the privilege to spend public money on furthering its version of a particular religion. And no candidate, at any level of government, has the right to promote his or her religious expression over others.

Public discussion of personal theology has no place in this political campaign, either on the part of the candidates or their questioners.

Carolyn Oehler

Brentwood 37027

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