Monday, December 17, 2007

Politics and religion

I guess isn't really a new issue, but it's the first time I've seen it played out this way. Our next president could be elected based in part on what religion he/she practices, and I'm not sure that's exactly fair. As an active Latter-day Saint, I have chosen to support Mitt Romney, not based on the shared religion factor (though I think it's pretty cool a Mormon has a good shot at getting the White House), but because he's tough on illegal immigration, tough on terror, in favor of tax breaks for middle class citizens, pro-traditional family and pro-life (whatever his past stances may have been, that's where he is now). But bloggers, interviewers, and debate attendees aren't looking at those aspects of Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney - they are focused on their religion. They see Mitt only as a Mormon, and Huckabee only as an Evangelical. I have to ask, why? What is it about these two that drives their opposition to ignore everything else they say and do, and focus on what they profess religiously? Is it because, unlike other politicians, they actually live what they believe? That Mitt, as a Mormon husband and father, has been true to his wife, raised good kids, and has a clean record? That Huckabee wants to "take this country back for Christ"? People like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, who are "Catholic" but never act, vote, or do anything to show their religion must be mystified by this type of lifestyle, one that is actually influenced by religious activity.
If this country is dedicated to religious freedom (meaning the government neither endorses nor opposes one particular religion, including atheism) what does it matter what religion they are? I would just as soon vote for a Baptist or Catholic or Hindu or Jew as a Mormon, if they supported and stood for the values, morals, and standards I do. Not all Mormons will vote for Mitt, anymore than all Evangelicals will vote for Huckabee, or blacks for Obama, or women for Hillary. We have the greatest nation on earth, with the most freedoms and opportunities for its people, and yet, we're stuck squabbling over differences of opinion and belief. Our similarities, our common values and heritage should bring us together, unite us to stand for the values and beliefs we have in common. It's one of the principles our country was founded on - united we stand, divided we fall. And if we keep dividing and keep squabbling over the divisions, it won't be a matter of if we fall, but when and how hard.