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You’ve got to have God if you want to be President of the US
by Graeme J. Davidson,
16 Feb 2008

Only Evangelical Protestants show a consistency in political opinions. They agree with conservative agenda items and disagree with liberal items.

... Immediately Barrack Obama set his sights on the Democratic Presidential nomination, emails appeared claiming he was a closet Muslim. They alleged Islamic extremists at a Wahabi Muslim school in Indonesia indoctrinated him and that he swore the oath on the Koran when he became an Illinois senator. His 20-year membership in Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ was therefore a front: “The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level – with the President of the United States”. Insight magazine and Fox News Channel echoed similar views, which most regard as a smear.
... Although Barrack Obama did attend a Muslim school as a child when his family lived in Indonesia, he also went to a Catholic one. There’s no evidence of his coming under the influence of religious extremists of either persuasion and he was sworn into Congress with a Bible. He proudly proclaims a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” and tells voters, “My faith teaches me I can sit in church and pray all I want, but I won’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I go out and do the Lord’s work.”
... Not to be outdone, Obama’s Democratic rival, Hilary Clinton, refers to her Methodist roots, her time as a Sunday school teacher and the importance of forgiveness, which she had to practise when her husband’s infidelities became public. She constantly peppers her political rhetoric with bible references, especially how “faith without works is dead”.
... In the Republican camp, frontrunner John McCain points to being a committed Christian who was formerly Anglican and is now a Baptist (considering baptism by total immersion after the elections) and how as a Vietnam POW fellow POWs elected him their chaplain because of his “abundance of religiosity”.
... Trailing behind him is Mike Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister and former televangelist, who believes the Bible is without error. He says he reads a chapter a day from the Book of Proverbs and, like all the contenders, maintains he prays regularly.
... This overt display of religious belief by the candidates seems to contradict the US Constitution’s separation of state and religion and its prohibition of religious tests for public office. But separation doesn’t mean no religion. Polls show that about 70 percent of Americans want a person in the White House who has sound values, including solid religious beliefs. Even if they were eligible, Helen Clark and John Key wouldn’t stand a chance in the United States.
... In fact, a recent survey by the Forum and the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press found the more religious the candidates come across, the more favourably they are regarded. On that basis, Hilary Clinton will be the next President as, in mid-2007, she topped the poll as the most religious of all the presidential hopefuls. While religious affiliation of the candidate is less important, John F Kennedy has been the only Catholic President despite Roman Catholics making up a quarter of the US population. And America clearly wasn’t ready for Republican hopeful Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.
... An in-depth survey into American religious beliefs by Baylor University in 2006 found: “Only Evangelical Protestants show a consistency in political opinions. They agree with conservative agenda items and disagree with liberal items.” Biblical literalists and people who go to church regularly usually want to spend more on the military, promote Christian values such as prayer in schools, and be tough on criminals. They oppose abortion, support Israel and aren’t so keen on regulating business, protecting the environment or distributing wealth evenly. It is to these mainly white evangelicals that Republican candidates appeal.
... However, the mood among evangelicals has shifted subtly since the 1980s when the evangelical Moral Majority endorsed Ronald Reagan. Jim Wallis represents a new breed of evangelists pushing bible-based liberal agendas, particularly human rights, social justice and environmental initiatives. So, in the future, Republicans may have to work a whole lot harder to win the allegiance of the Bible Belt.



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