Should political leaders be openly religious?
Side Score: 21
Side Score: 24
If they weren't openly religious, they would be hiding a piece of themselves. It's important to know if they believe in something like the church of alien visitors, because it helps people judge their intelligence. Most of the time they're just pandering to christians though.
I do not believe that a political leader should be openly religious if by that you mean they are always commenting on their religion, using it as a crutch to lean on, or giving it as a reason for all of their decisions. On the other hand, if by openly religious you mean that they are not afraid to talk about what they believe in when it comes to spirituality, upon other's request, then that is not being openly religious; it is being honest. I am not sure what your opinion is, but I believe honesty is a good trait in a leader. The fact that politicians are attacked or ridiculed for believing something or being perceived to believe something when it has nothing to do with their ability do their job is stupid. This is especially true as most of the reasons the public and media tend to care are based off of false stereotypes and ignorance. In turn, politicians should not have to submit to these pressures and compromise their beliefs (or become liars) in order to gain favor of those who have no beliefs and do not think for themselves. Furthermore, I do not believe the public has a clear understanding of the difference between religious views and beliefs/morals/values. Religious views address whether you consider yourself Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Although people may link whether they think something is right or wrong with their religious views, that actually has less to do with it than your own thought process (unless you do not think and just go with whatever is taught in your religion). To clarify, what someone's religion says, is not always what that person believes and as a leader, that person will not compromise his beliefs and go with whatever is taught to him; therefore, those religious views are not that individual's beliefs and will not affect how he leads. That is a clear distinction between beliefs and religious views and based on that, a person's beliefs are their beliefs no matter what religion they are. As a result, contrary to chewie's statement, they should always let their beliefs influence their political views and decisions because that would only be supporting what they feel is right. In the same light, faith is just a strong conviction in what you believe so if someone is blind enough to believe that someone's faith is NOT going to influence a person's decisions, that someone is very ignorant or must want a leader who will not stand up for what they believe in. You should ALWAYS rely on a persons faith/beliefs to influence their decisions and if you do not then I do not believe it matters what you think of political leaders because you clearly have not thought it through at all or think that political leaders are people who should be easily persuaded to compromise their beliefs. In either case, your thoughts (if any) on the idea of political leadership should be considered irrelevant and, sorry to say, but your vote should not even count.
It's a very interesting argument you bring forward, however i'm not suggesting a political leader should hide their religious beliefs from the public, the press, etc. I just believe that religion and politics should be 2 seperate entities when it comes to goverment, but with so many governments throughout the world having very close links to religious establishments some sort of affect or influence on the leadership of the country must occur. I'm not suggesting that this influence is negative, but too close an association with a religion or faith can lead to hostilities. There is no doubt that the Israel/Palestinain war is very complicated and there are many factors involved, but the religious differences between the 2 factions certainly plays a big part.
So i'll pose some questions: Will there ever be a leader in Israel who's not Jewish? Will there ever be an american president who's muslim? Of course no one knows what the future holds, but i'll be very surprised if it happens in my lifetime. The point is it shouldn't matter what a leader's religious beliefs are even if it does have implications on their leadership ability. Your decision to vote for a particular political leader is based on many factors but their religious faith shouldn't be one of them. What's to say someone who believes in the Church of Space Aliens will be a worse leader than someone who's of Christian faith.
The exact reason why leaders shouldn't be openly religious is because it matters to so many people and influences so many votes. But then that's the main reason why so many leaders are openly religious and often over emphasize their connection with a religious faith; to increase voting numbers. So who's being honest?
It's obvious that religious beliefs will cause tension when we're talking about places like the Gaza strip or Northern Ireland, but, as you say, that's for a variety of reasons. The Israeli community would be reluctant to elect a Muslim because there are years of resentment, violence, and hostility between the two cultures. Those cultures have different religious identities, yes, but the conflict is originally about who owns that land, so I don't think you can really compare it with American politics.
You say: "The point is it shouldn't matter what a leader's religious beliefs are even if it does have implications on their leadership ability." I don't agree. I'd say, the leader should be elected for their leadership ability, and anything that affects that does matter. Anything that influences that would also matter: I wouldn't want to vote for a hard-line Catholic who would oppose abortion and teaching people to use contraception. I wouldn't deny their right to be Catholic, I would have no prejudice against their Catholicism, but I'd disagree with their policies and I'd want to know what those policies would be. If knowing their religion gives me that information about their political convictions, I want to know it. Because of that, I want them to be open about their religion.
I'm on this camp based on practicalities. It is not practical to hide your religious beliefs (unless you don't attend a church or something). If you try, people would want to know what you're hiding. So just come out and say what your religious beliefs are (if any) and move on.
This country was founded by deeply religious men. They, and some of our greatest leaders, had no problem expressing their faith.
"If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical society, certainly I would never have placed my signature on it." -- George Washington, May 10, 1789
"This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation...these are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people...and these and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation." -- Supreme Court in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 1892.
"While the people are virtuous, they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader...If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security." -- Samual Adams
"To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian." -- George Washington to his troops at Valley Forge, May 2 1778
"It is in the man of piety and inward principle, that we may expect to find the uncorrupted patriot, the useful citizen, and the invincible soldier. God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable and that the unjust attempts to destroy the one, may in the issue tend to be support and establishment of both." -- John Witherspoon
In an even stronger statement, John Witherspooon said this: "Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not [would not hesitate] to call him an enemy to his country."
"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists [pluralism], but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ! For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here." -- Patrick Henry
"Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." -- John Jay
"Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe...Religion...[is] the basis and foundation of government." -- James Madison, considered The Chief Architect of the Constitution.
"Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man towards God." -- Gouverneur Morris
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." -- John Adams
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness...Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." -- Alexander Hamilton
"Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encourged, not any one sect [denomination]." -- Congress, 1854
The belief in God All Powerful, wise and good, is essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man." James Madison, fourth president of the U.S.
"If we and our posterity neglect religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality.... no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity." statesman Daniel Webster
"The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil Constitutions and laws....All the miseries and evil which men suffer from vice, crime, ambitions, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible." Noah Webster
" We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. From the rising to the setting of the sun, may His Kingdom come." Samuel Adams
"We have all been encouraged to feel the guardianship and guidance of the Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of Nations, whose blessings have been so conspicuously dispensed to this rising Republic, and to whom we are bound to address our devout gratitude for the past, as well as our fervent supplications and best hopes for the future." James Madison, in his first inaugural address
" God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable..... He is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion." John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration of Independence and member of Continental Congress
Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Story (appointed by Pres. James Madison) called America a "Christian country" and slammed deism: " Christianity... is not to be maliciously and openly reviled and blasphemed against. It is unnecessary... for us ...to consider the establishment of a school or college for the propagation of Deism or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not presumed to exist in a Christian country."
" That book , Sir, is the rock on which our republic stands." Andrew Jackson, 7th President of U.S.
" It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." George Washington
" ...a book worth more than all other books that were ever printed." Patrick Henry, on the bible
" I have always said, and always say, that the studious perusal of the sacred volume will make us better citizens." Thomas Jefferson
" In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard and they were graciously answered... Have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this proof: that God governs the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I therefore beg leave to move that , henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing upon our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed with business." Benjamin Franklin, June 28, 1787
" We shall not fight alone. God presides over the destinies of nations. The battle is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! Give me liberty, of give me death." Patrick Henry
"Let my heart gracious God, be so affected with Your glory and majesty that I may.... discharge those weighty duties which thou requirest of me.... again, I have called on thee for pardon and forgiveness of sins... for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered on the cross for me. Thou gavest Thy Son to die for me; and has given me assurance of salvation."
George Washington's diary
" God gave us life and gave us liberty. Can the liberty of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that those liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just and His justice cannot sleep forever." Thomas Jefferson, (the Jefferson Memorial)
" It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not to be religionist but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Patrick Henry
" He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of Christianity will change the face of the world." Benjamin Franklin, Ambassador to France
" It would be improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplication to that Almighty Being.... No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of man more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seemed to have been distinguished by some providential agency...We ought to be no less persuaded the propitious smiles of Heaven cannot be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained." George Washington's first inaugural address
"The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were...the general principles of Christianity....I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God; and that those principles of liberty are as unalterable as human nature." John Adams to Thomas Jefferson
"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government and the principles of Christianity." John Quincy Adams
" The religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and his apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence; which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights. This is the genuine Christianity, and to this ( Christianity) we owe our free Constitution of government." Noah Webster
" By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing and are equally entitled to protection in their liberty." the Supreme Court of Maryland, Runkle vs. Winemiller 1796
" whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor" U.S. Congress approving a national day of prayer and thanksgiving
" The Congress of the United States approves and recommends to the people, the Holy Bible...for use in schools" U.S. Congress 1782
" Why not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, be read and taught as a divine revelation in the schools? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?" U.S. Supreme Court - Vidal vs Girar, 1844
" The right to hold office was to be extended to persons of any Christian denomination." Roger Sherman, the only founding father to sign all four of America's major documents
"We are a Christian people, according to one another, the equal right of religious freedom, and acknowledging with reverence the duty of obedience to the will of God," U.S. Supreme Court / U.S. vs. Macintosh, 1931
" We are a religious people, and our institutions presuppose a Supreme Being." Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, 1993
" I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing the Good Book and the good Spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses.... Whether we look to the First Charter of Virginia, or to the Charter of New England, or to the Charter of Massachusetts Bay, or to the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. The same object is present; a Christian land governed be Christian principles. I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it; freedom of belief, of expression, of assembly, of petition, the dignity of the individual, the sanctity of the home, equal justice of the law, and the reservation of powers to the people. I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country." Chief Justice Earl Warren, to Time magazine, 1954
The NEA's selections for inspiring American students in 1944: the Lord's prayer; the poem," Father in Heaven, We Thank Thee"; another poem that introduced the concept of daily prayers; a Thanksgiving poem that admonished kids to "thank the One who gave all the good things that we have". The "Wall of separation of Church and State" was a myth in 1944.
" But for the Bible, we would not know right from wrong." Abraham Lincoln
Congratulations your adept at copying quotes from various leaders, mostly white, american, Christian leaders i might add, which adds absolutley nothing to this debate.
"I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.." Adolf Hitler
"We--with God's help--call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson." Feb. 1998 - Bin Laden edict
Many countries were founded by deeply religious men and yes deeply religious men may have been some of the greatest leaders in the past. However deeply religious men have also proved to be some of the worse leaders ever and examples of true evilness, as highlighted by the quotes above. These people also had no problem expressing their faith.
In my opinion religion has no place in politics and i believe political leaders are often influenced by their own religious views. I'm not saying leaders shouldn't be religious, they can believe what they like. I'm not saying a non-religious leader does a better job than a religious one, what i'm saying is they should not let their religious beliefs affect their political views and decisions.
Sorry, we don't live in a perfect world. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of Americans hold their religious beliefs dearly. Without espousing religious values, there is no way an American politician could garner enough votes to become elected.
Side: Necessary Evil
I don't feel that politicians who are religious should hide their faith, and if their faith is going to be influencing their decisions in a serious way, I want to know. However, I feel that being (or at least saying that you are) "strongly religious" and having your faith supposedly play a big part in your decision making process is some sort of requirement in this country to get elected, and to me, that's counterproductive. Going on and on about how Christian you are and how much you're essentially willing to ignore the separation of church and state does not make you a qualified leader. And basically running on a platform of your Christian-ness, taking advantage of peoples' devotion to their faith to get elected, is disingenuous. If you're religious, fine. But I don't think that that should constitute a legitimate campaign platform.
In the end it's a politicians job to represent the people. So should a poltician ignore its religious constituency? Of course not. They should certainly embrace it.
The fact is religious people have needs, wants, and rights. They deserve to be represented. When they look at a leader, they want one who reminds them of themselves. They want a person who they 'perceive' to be good. And to them, a leader who openly discusses their beliefs on a wide range of issues - including religion - helps them make the right choice for them.
That's not to say that I don't believe in seperation of church and state. I certainly do. Tax payer money should never go to any religion because the money is from all of the people of the U.S., not just the religious people. And the U.S. should never prosecute anyone religion just because of their beliefs.
And that's also not to say that I agree that someone should choose a leader solely on religious belief. People should look to everything that leader will do before making their choice.
But that still doesnt take away from the fact that leaders should definitely expose who they are for all to see. After all, if one of our future presidents is going to be a religious nutjob, i want to know about it.
I will agree that "religious people have needs, wants and rights." Everyone, religious or not has needs, wants and rights. Religion aside, however, because of the diverse place that the United States of America is, there is no way that everyone can look at a leader, specifically a president, and say "that person looks like me." How many minority groups have no one represented in any part of the government. It is only now that the African American community can say of a presidential candidate, "Obama looks like me."
I challenge you, and other debaters, to find more than a handful of openly Wiccan, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu, or Muslim politicians. Let those people (myself included) see someone who looks like them.
Religion does more to get in the way of governance than to assist it.
An individual's religion is as personal as his sexual preference or his opinion on baseball: and in the end that's pretty much what it amounts to.
Morals and ethics are in no way bound to religion: It is the mark of a weak person indeed who depends on religion to dictate his morality, and weak leaders are not effective leaders.
No, leave the Bibles and Korans and Rig Vedas at home; bring morality and ethics to politics, and leave individual ideas of ultimate reality out of it. Wars would be less common if religion were left in its place: Jesus himself instructed his followers to render unto Caesar what was Caesar's, and unto God what was God's.
Religion will only impress those who share the religion, and will cause alienation and resentment with those who don't. Not a good situation for a leader.
You can't say that baseball and religion are anywhere near the same. So putting them in the same category is just silly.
The truth is religion highlights a whole series of beliefs that the person has. Baseball, on the other hand, is just a sport they like.
The beliefs one may have, due to their religious preference, would certainly make their way into the way they govern. Don't republicans cater to their religious demographic?
I admit, in a perfect world, a persons religion wouldn't play a part in the decisions they make. But the world isn't perfect.
Also, the morals and ethics of a christian isn't the same as those of a muslim, or hindu, or buddhist. All these religions vary and have different morals to go along with them. Some religions make a moral issue out of abortion, others not so much.
So if we stick with your suggestion that people just bring morals and ethics with them into politics, then we'd find a world very much dictated by the leaders religious belief. That's because, for most people (Atleast half of America) their morals derive directly from their religion.
So in the end, you could never seperate religion from politics.
The very first ammendment to the constitution discusses freedom of religion, which implies that although everyone is able to practice their own beliefs without persicution(sp?), the government should be publically neutral on the topic so as not to offend anyone. Plus, have we learned nothing from Europe when the Church basically ruled the entire continent? We must be strong and maintain a separation of Church and State!