Religion is built into American politics

There seems to be a lot of talk about religion these days. Whether it’s conflict in the Middle East, a politician swaying voters or the recent controversy over a text quoted by the pope, religion is a hot topic. It cannot be avoided or ignored. It’s a part of everyday life.

Religion is particularly prominent in the United States.

The U.S. consists of a people of faith. According to a 44-nation survey conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2001, religion is more important to people in the U.S. than those in other industrialized nations.

People care more about religion here than in other countries and it shows. How many times do arguments arise over how much religion should play a role in politics? Every day.

Practically every issue we debate upon has some kind of moral base, even if we do not realize it.

Take something as simple as speed limits for example. We must obey speed limits because if we exceed them, we could put others in danger and possibly hurt them, which is morally wrong.

Our government legislates morality on multiple levels, which is not a bad thing. This is not to suggest that every law we have right now is morally upright, but that every law should be.

Morality is stemmed from faith and reason. Faith and reason can compliment each other; they do not have to contradict each other.

St. Thomas Aquinas, famous philosopher and theologian, argued that since both the light of faith and the light of reason come from God, there is no contradiction between them.

Government should reflect moral standards. It already does in so many ways. And it should continue to, because if not, our society will gravely wound itself.

The problem many Americans face when it comes to particularly volatile topics such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, same-sex marriage, the death penalty and cloning surround the issue of objective morality versus subjective morality.

In this age of individualism, our culture has told us that doing whatever we want will make us happy and we can choose morals suited to our own liking. This is an example of subjective morality. Unfortunately, many have believed this (myself included) and have had to learn the hard way.

Of course, I write this from a position of faith and reason.

If we are to learn how to live, we have to go to the One who made us.

A person can’t attempt to build a plane without first learning how the maker of the plane intended it to be built. If you try to build it on your own, you could make a mistake and put yourself in great danger.

Likewise, if the creature wants to be happy then it has to get to know the Creator and reach for his standards, which is objective morality.

When we do something wrong, we are unhappy, because our conscience nags at us until we make it right. And when we do something right, we experience real happiness and peace of mind.

It’s built into our very being.

In our American society which places such an emphasis on faith, reason and government, there is no wonder why religion and politics mix.

It’s simply part of American life. Perhaps this is why the saying “In God we trust” is on our currency.

It’s unreasonable to think that the separation of church and state will always work and should always work.

Some may argue this is pushing religion or morals on another.

But, in everything, motivation is the key. If someone is being forceful about a particular stance on an issue, just because he or she wants to be right or make others look bad, then that would be “pushing.”

But, if someone is saying it out of genuine concern in order to provoke thought, than that is simply exercising freedom of speech.

Either way, religion and politics mix whether we like it or not. And, both deserve the utmost respect.

What else can you expect in a country filled with people who care about both politics and religion? And, isn’t democracy supposed to be representing the people, anyway?

Just as faith and reason can compliment each other, so can church and state. Both have a common goal to instill order and ensure the well being of people.

Send comments to Lauren Walter at [email protected].