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Religion on the campaign trail

Religion on the campaign trail

What role should religion play in political discourse? How can candidates speak of their faith without alienating those who do not share it.

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Gregory Orloff

The problem with this election cycle thus far isn’t so much that candidates are talking about their religious faith, but that they’re:

(1) Casting aspersions on their competitors’ religious faith or perceived lack of religious faith in an attempt to discredit them.

(2) Using religion as an exclusivist wedge to cast Americans into two camps, be it “real” or “fake,” or “acceptable” and “unacceptable.”

(3) Living lives and demonstrating behavior that betrays the religious faith they profess.

All candidates need to bear in mind that, no matter how much their religious faith purportedly informs their decisions, choices and behavior, by law in America, religious tests can never be used to qualify or disqualify anybody when it comes to public office (Article 6 of the United States Constitution).

And they would do well to remember the motto America’s Founding Fathers gave this country (and no, it’s not “In God We Trust”): “E Pluribus Unum” — Latin for “out of many, one.” Diversity and coexistence have always been part of our national fabric and one of our unique strengths as a country.

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