The Role of Religion in Presidential Elections

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The Role of Religion in Presidential Elections
“The relationship between faith, reason, and fear sometimes resembles…rock, paper, scissors (45).” This is the opening sentence in chapter two of Al Gore’s book, The Assault on Reason. In this chapter Gore talks about how fear takes over reason, reason challenges faith, and eventually faith defeats fear. This is the way that our society worked when he wrote the book, and it has not changed for the better since then, although it has not necessarily gotten substantially worse. Today religion is still a huge player in political debate because people are guided, for the most part, by their morals and it is commonly held that morals come mainly from religious teachings. This is a complex subject because that also opens the door to the idea that atheists, agnostics, etc are not moral people because they are not religious. By that logic, only the religious should be allowed to lead our country because they are the only moral people. Do we believe that all religions are good, though? Are some better than others? Ideally, and under our Constitution, no; all religions are equal in the eyes of our laws. However, there are stigmas attached to certain religions, and to many non-religious people there is a stigma on religion itself. So why, then, does religion play such a large role in political campaigns? It’s simple; because we view religion as having a direct correlation with morals, politicians, political parties, and interest groups can use fear to override our reason in order to sway our opinions.

Historically, here in the United States, our citizens have elected white Christian men to the office of the President. To go even further, we have elected Protestant Christians to office. It is apparent that, political parties aside, we have a preference as to what our President should be, religiously. We have only had one Roman Catholic President, John F. Kennedy; during his campaign there were fears that he would follow the...
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