Religion in Presidential Politics

August 29, 2000

Not so long ago, it was considered improper to mention politics and religion in polite conversation. My, how times have changed! Not only do we talk about religion and politics, we are hearing more and more about their connection.

Religion in presidential politics is one of the unexpected themes of the 2000 campaign. Most recently Vice Presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman added to the growing list of examples. He asked his audience to remember the word from Chronicles which is to "give thanks to God and declare His name and make His acts known to the people." And he offered this prayer: "Dear Lord, maker of all miracles, I thank you for bringing me to this extraordinary moment in my life."

Senator Lieberman is not alone is his religious declaration. George W. Bush talks about faith-based organizations and he said that the most influential philosopher in his life is Jesus Christ. Al Gore says that he makes decisions based on the question, What would Jesus do?

These are remarkable statements considering the recent history of presidential campaigns. Of course, Jimmy Carter talked of his faith and taught Sunday School in a Southern Baptist Church. But most presidential candidates said little about personal faith and generally talked about civil religion.

Dwight Eisenhower said "Our government makes no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith." And then he added, "and I don't care what it is." John Kennedy told ministers in Houston that he would make presidential decisions "without regard to outside religious pressure or dictate."

That's not what candidates seem to be saying today. They are saying that their faith is important to them, and it will guide their decisions.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.