Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

The Faith Factor in the 2016 Election

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

The Faith Factor in the 2016 Election

Article excerpt

We are one year away from the Iowa caucuses and already several Republican presidential candidates are trying to secure an advantage by talking about their faith.

Before announcing his non-candidacy last Friday, Mitt Romney had indicated if he ran for a third time he intended to be more "open" about his Mormon faith. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, regularly invokes his Baptist faith. And now Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a self-described evangelical Christian, is testifying to his faith. There will be others.

Appearing at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Walker spoke about the successful battle he waged against his state's public unions over their attempt to expand bargaining rights. He told the audience, "You prayed for us. We could feel the power of those prayers."

This sounds a little like the cheers one hears at high school football games: "We've got spirit, how about you?"

In modern election cycles there has been a presumption among conservative Christians that if a politician goes to church, can quote Scripture and mentions the name of Jesus, he is more qualified to become president than, say, a circumspect Episcopalian, or even an agnostic or atheist. The thinking is if "one of our own" gets elected president, his divinely inspired policies will trickle down to your adolescent daughter, who will stop sleeping with her boyfriend.

If only.

Recent history has proved the fallacy of that belief. The moral quality of America did not improve during the two terms of Ronald Reagan, who rarely attended church, or the one term of Jimmy Carter, who did. The moral compass did not point in a different direction during the two terms of George W. Bush, who said in a 2000 presidential debate that his favorite "philosopher" was Jesus.

The greatest warning against trusting politicians to improve a nation's virtue comes from King David. …

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