Faith on the campaign trail

by Maureen Fiedler

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I never cease to be amazed at the Republican candidates who are using evangelical politics to appeal to voters. I know many of them say they don't believe in separation of church and state, but if so, they need to read early American history and a bunch of Supreme Court decisions.

Now I can understand their use of "social issues" to make an appeal to conservative voters as long as their arguments are based on the "good of the country" and not on an appeal to theology or denomination (although I will admit that this is a thin line in places like Iowa).

But I was truly appalled to see Rick Perry, as the governor of Texas, lead a prayer rally last week that featured far right evangelical figures, some of them with anti-Catholic statements in their preaching history.

Presumably, Perry is the governor of ALL Texans, no matter what their faith, or lack of it. One has to ask: does he care about Jews or Catholics or Muslims or even mainline Protestants? Or those of any other faith tradition? Or those with none? All are citizens, after all.

Now, he of course has the right to worship as he sees fit -- as an individual person of faith. But using his office as governor, which he did quite blatantly, to promote this prayer rally was far outside the bounds of our American tradition of separation of church and state.

So I keep wondering: if these folks continue to use public office to promote a particular faith tradition, almost always an evangelical Christian tradition, some of us who are Christians but not evangelicals should let them know. That's especially true of Catholics. I wonder what would happen if the Texas governor's office suddenly got a lot of messages from Catholics saying they were insulted by his promotion of this prayer rally? It's worth a try.

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