Religion's place in politics: Politicians' private lives
In response to C. Welton Gaddy's June 16 Opinion piece, "Candidates: stop misusing religion": Mr. Gaddy worries that the "sanctity of religion" has been violated during this presidential campaign. To some degree, we share his concern about candidates who use faith for political reasons. However, we do so as a personal matter, not as a constitutional one.
Despite the rhetoric about "separation of church and state," the Constitution places few explicit restrictions on religion in the public square. The Founders assumed that religion would be a part of public life. The father of the country, George Washington, wrote, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports."
Voters may personally like or dislike some of the ways in which the presidential candidates have chosen to bring religion into the public square. However, the fact that they have done so certainly does not violate the Constitution.
Regarding the recent Opinion piece on religion in politics: As a staunch secularist, I, too, wince when candidates use religion as a stage prop, and I feel that our country deserves an electoral campaign that treats public religion with the same suspicion held by those who built the Constitution.
But don't be so quick to blame the candidates. The sin here lies at the door of the religious right. After years of seeing Democrats – most of whom are pretty devout in their private lives, but who don't believe that God is some campaign prop to be exploited for the sake of personal power – go down in flames, is it any wonder that Barack Obama is going out of his way to display his religious bona fides?
When politics and religion mix, both are degraded. I am glad Gaddy recognizes the problem, but the candidates are the victims, especially in this election cycle.
Thomas A. Prais
In response to the recent Opinion piece on religion in presidential elections: America is a pluralistic society composed of different religions. Candidates for public office who use God and their faith for personal political gain are suspect and sometimes come close to taking God's name in vain.
Officeholders must respect citizens' rights to worship as they please, or even not worship at all. It might be good if every candidate had a personal relationship with their God, but being religious is not necessarily the most important quality candidates possess. They don't have to tell us how religious they are. We will know them by their fruits and policies.
Paul L. Whiteley Sr.
Occupation of Iraq unjustified
In response to the June 10 article, "Talks to keep US troops in Iraq provoke ire": What we are sitting on in Iraq is a lightning-fast, six-week war against a largely defenseless nation, followed by a bloody, five-year occupation. It has nothing in common, either in scale or magnitude, with World War II or the cold war. Therefore, the Bush administration's efforts to impose on Iraq "the same kind of agreement that governs the US military presence in South Korea, Japan, and Germany" could not be more inappropriate, misleading, or for that matter, myopic.
Apparently we have already forgotten the 1990 Persian Gulf war, in which a relatively small, residual force of 5,000 troops stationed in Saudi Arabia was enough to ignite the long fuse that exploded on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Iraq war has not been a cure for terrorism; it has been the unprecedented cause of it.
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