During the Compassion Forum with presidential candidates, CNN moderators again blurred the boundaries between religion and government and misused religion as a political tool, according to a prominent interfaith advocacy leader.
Below, please find a statement by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a practicing Baptist preacher, and President of The Interfaith Alliance, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the positive and healing role of religion in the life of the nation and challenging those who manipulate religion to promote a narrow, divisive agenda.
The Media’s Perpetuation of the Race for Pastor-in-Chief
Statement by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
President, The Interfaith Alliance
Last night’s Compassion Forum on CNN provided a great opportunity to pose some important questions about the role of faith in politics. Some of the answers given by the candidates will serve to better inform the voting public about their views and they should be commended for the generally respectful manner in which they handled these issues. However, there were also many questions asked by the moderators that were clearly inappropriate, and still others of importance that they failed to ask. If this had been an interview for any other job in America, a good number of the questions asked last night would have been downright illegal.
Why ask Senator Clinton about feeling “the presence of the Holy Spirit”? Why ask Senator Obama what he would tell his children if they asked whether “God really create the world in six days?” Far more useful would be questions about whether their faith would impact their policy positions or whether or not the concept of intelligent design should be taught in our children’s public school classrooms.
Many important issues that exist at the intersection of religion and politics were covered last night – reproductive health, end-of-life care, the faith-based initiative. I only wish the moderators had pushed the candidates further on these important questions for voters, rather than asking questions that do little to move the national conversation on faith in public life forward.
I hope the media will continue to look at the role of faith in public life, but they should focus on issues of more relevance to voters. Instead, The Interfaith Alliance respectfully offers the following five questions:
- 1. What role should and does your religious faith and values play in creating public policy?
- 2. What are your views on the Constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state?
- 3. What active steps have you taken and will you continue to take to show respect for the variety of religious beliefs among your constituents?
- 4. Should a political leader’s use of religious language reflect the language of his/her religious tradition, or be more broadly inclusive?
- 5. How do you balance the principles of your faith and your pledge to defend the Constitution, particularly when the two come into conflict?
The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the positive and healing role of religion in the life of the nation and challenging those who manipulate religion to promote a narrow, divisive agenda. With more than 185,000 members drawn from more than 75 faith traditions and 47 local activist groups throughout America, TIA promotes compassion, civility and mutual respect for human dignity in our increasingly diverse society. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.