Why a candidate's faith matters

Michelle Crotwell Kirtley

July 18, 2011

Something I hadn't given much thought to but really need to ponder. Thanks!

July 23, 2011

I think there is something beyond just how a candidate's faith informs their politics. You mention "value differences" and how "our views of the responsibilities of government are inevitably derived from our faith" What's interesting to me is that Catholics, Mormons, and Christians generally share the same values for marriage/family, life for the unborn. If we truly wanted those views to inform the responsibilities of government, we should rally together and as a voting bloc we could win every election.

So there's something ELSE we're considering, especially in a Mormon candidate. And I think that's where most Christians put a faith test (reasons why the candidate's faith is wrong) before their duty as a citizen to vote for the common good (our shared values).

Daniel Brockhan
July 23, 2011

I agree!

Jason Summers
July 23, 2011


The LDS does take a more moderate position on abortion than the current Catholic position and some conservative protestants (see http://www.religioustolerance.... ).  But, in this case, I think Michelle was specifically addressing Michael Gerson's response to Herman Cain's proposed religious test ( http://www.capitalcommentary.o... ) by arguing that faith does have a role, albeit one that does not express itself as a religious test for office.That said, I'd argue that faith should inform our view of government on a far broader set of issues than marriage, family, and abortion.  That means that people nominally of the same faith may come to different conclusions while others of different faiths may agree on broad principles of governance.  In many ways the current disagreement is over the size of government, which certain groups have come to view as an article of religious faith.  That has built a coalition on one side that embraces both some evangelicals and objectivists and a coalition on the other side that embraces both some secular humanists and many Catholics.js

Tim H.
July 25, 2011

In a political candidate I look for a man or woman who reflects most accurately the same values I hold important (i.e. fairness, justice, equal economic opportunity, a respect for the individual, etc.). To suggest that the faith of a candidate is important is to imply, at least partially, that only a candidate who shares my faith can share my values. I find this implication problematic, as it unnecessarily conflates the values one holds with acknowledging the source of those values. That is, I mean to suggest that a candidate does not have to believe his/her values come from a divine authority to hold convictions that I find desirable and attractive in a public servant.

July 31, 2011

There is no way on God's green earth that a democratic republic, with a secret ballot election system, can regulate whether an individual voter in the privacy of the voting booth makes use of a religious test on how they cast their own vote. What the constitution can do, and does do, is forbid any government body imposes a religious test on who can run, or if elected, serve in office.

A lingering fear concerning both the Mormon and the Roman Catholic church, and frankly now applicable to some megachurches and politically active denominations, is whether a member of a given faith will vote as directed by a church hierarchy, under pain of excommunication. Some RC bishops have tried to indulge in such manipulation. Whether the Mormon leadership would do so is an unknown, although the church has vigorously denied it since 1890.

John F. Kennedy laid many of the fears about RC candidates to rest, as have the many RC members who vote what their constituency wants, not what their church dictates. Mormons are unlikely to be a greater threat. That said, Mitt Romney is not one tenth the man his father was, and I might be a Republican today if George Romney had been the nominee in 1968.

Jan seems to be missing the fact that Protestant Christians are all over the map on the detail of what is broadly painted "marriage/family, life for the unborn." I am firmly pro-choice, I have various positions on when abortion is or is not a justified choice, I don't believe that same-sex couples are "similarly situated" to the union of a man and a woman, but I do not strenuously object if a legislature offers some kind of recognition of license... Many Roman Catholics, are both opposed morally to abortion and pro choice as to the appropriate role of The State, whether their bishops like it or not.

This is why no religious bloc will ever "rally" to "win every election."

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