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Religion and Politics - When is it Appropriate?

By Hans Knecht, Staff Writer, Chemical Engineering

Religion is the cornerstone of the world. It has played a larger role in our global and local history than any other motivator. It has been the official cause of hundreds of wars, hundreds of genocides, and thousands of laws. However we must remember that while religion has been taken to extremes and caused irreparable damage to the earth and its people; it has also brought about great good. Now those who are outside of a religion may attribute this to something Einstein called a “Cosmic religious feeling” which according to him was a higher form of religion than an anthropomorphic god. However regardless of the arributation to form of religion even those outside of religion must admit that it has brought about good and helpful things to the world. However this is not to say that the intertwining of  religious institutions and politics is acceptable when one is discussing laws and policies of a nation. This is not to say that those we elect should be atheist or agnostic, nor is it to say that the elected officials must be a man of religious convictions. However it is to say, as JFK did “I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.” Regardless of one’s religious beliefs one must admit that the president of the united states must take orders from no one save the people of the United States and the United States Congress. This also means however that unless the electee's religious beliefs stand as a direct and provable threat to the United States and the oath which they take then it should not be brought up.

A discussion of a candidate’s religious beliefs should not be as follows: Candidate A is of religion B. As such Candidate A will act according to all the policies and regulations and statements that religion B has made. And as such we should not elect Candidate A because of this. The logic should go as follows: Candidate A is of certain convictions and beliefs for the betterment of the country. Candidate A is also of religion B which is the basis for his beliefs and convictions. Will Candidate A listen to the people and, though he has the duty to warn the people about a course of action that he disagrees with, will he execute his duties under the office regardless of his beliefs? If that final question cannot be answered. If the Candidate will not act according to the will of the people and though he may warn them, still perform his duties as an executive, or legislative officer of this nation then he is not fit for the office. Now we must separate Executive officers and Legislative officers here. For it is the duty of the Executive Officer to be an executive and enforce the laws passed by the legislators, who are acting upon the will of the people, not to decide the reprehensibility or the morality of the decisions. His job is to warn of paths that he sees as not fit, and if he cannot perform the duties asked then he is to step down. The legislator, however speaks for the people, and as such may very well be able to act directly on the comments of a religious body.

This means that it is part of the President’s duty to warn the nation of a path that he sees as detrimental to the nation. And if he is unwilling to compromise on his morals or his actions, and if he cannot act according to the will of the people then he is to step down. It is part of the legislators duty to speak on behalf of the people so the legislator may very well be able to act on a religious law or proclamation. In terms of discussion of religion and politics there should be no inherent value placed on one religion or religious belief or another. But we should consider the actions and statements of the individual themselves in order to reach a conclusion as to whether they are fit to serve in office. Because of this position I would advise against the election of someone so blinded by their own personal religious values, whether against or for religion, or christian or of another faith, whether secular or nonsecular, that they are unwilling to accept the fact that others may be of a different belief system and that their values do not rule everyone else, regardless of religious affiliation.