Religion shouldn’t affect the way we vote

Guest Column by Kevin Kyle

In the past few decades our country has started a new interesting trend in how we view our presidential candidates, and the emphasis we put on their religious affiliation.

Should we overlook policy and leadership flaws in the candidate simply because they share the same ideologies as we do? Is this way of evaluating a possible leader destructive to the democratic principles that our country was founded under? I believe it is.

In our country, the right not to believe is equally protected as those who choose to believe. If we judge certain groups of candidates more favorably because of what they believe in, then we are in essence saying that the morality that we look for in a leader cannot exist outside of religion.

During the 2008 election, I was disgusted when people attacked Barack Obama for being a closet Muslim.

This wasn’t true, but this made a huge impact on how religion is revolving in our presidential election and clearly shows that only one religion is acceptable for someone who is going to represent our country.

This way of judging a candidate sounds less and less democratic and more like a theocracy, the very form of government many GOP candidates have attacked recently. Former Senator Rick Santorum illustrates this point.

Santorum preaches about protecting “family values” from various threats in America. Yet, Santorum doesn’t believe the right to privacy is a “family value.”

He believes that the landmark Supreme Court case, Griswold v. Connecticut, which decided martial couples have the constitutional right to privacy, was wrongly decided.

Instead, he believes that courts have invented the right to martial privacy. As a result, he believes states should have absolute authority to regulate contraceptives, including banning them entirely.

All this talk about family values and God, yet Santorum criticized Iran for being a theocracy and tentatively praised Pakistan for moving towards a more secular state. This strategy of demeaning other religions besides Christianity takes away from the positive aspects of how religion can help candidates.

Instead, it just turns this strategy into a measuring stick of religion, instead of looking at what kind of person the candidate is and where he or she stand on actual issues.

A country where a candidate better be Christian, and a practicing Christian at that, hardly seems like a country that was founded under religious tolerance and freedom embedded forever in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

If we truly want our system to work and be fair to all candidates, then as a society we must change our views on how we judge candidates.

Instead of looking at what a candidate says about religion, or where they say they practice, shouldn’t we look at which actions and policies align with whatever we believe?

Reviewing solely the actions of the candidates and not whatever he or she preaches will allow for the public to take a more neutral approach to politics and ultimately protect our system of democracy that has made our country strong for so long.