'First Freedom First' Offers 10 Church-State Questions to Ask the Candidates

By Boston, Rob | Church & State, February 2008 | Go to article overview

'First Freedom First' Offers 10 Church-State Questions to Ask the Candidates


Boston, Rob, Church & State


This year's crop of presidential hopefuls has talked about where they go to church, how they interpret the Bible, what they pray for and other spiritual matters.

But where do they stand on crucial religious freedom issues like "faithbased" initiatives, "intelligent design" and church-based politicking?

Americans United for Separation of Church and State aims to find out. During this primary season, Americans United and The Inter-faith Alliance Foundation (TIAF) are working together through the First Freedom First campaign to urge voters to ask candidates 10 important questions dealing with church-state separation and freedom of conscience.

Television and newspaper ads promoting the campaign began running on the eve the New Hampshire primary and continued through last month in South Carolina.

The first wave of ads feature legendary actors Jack Klugman and James Whitmore. They are designed to remind candidates and voters that religion has a place in American life, but not as a political tool.

The ads encourage Americans to ask candidates to state their positions on issues ranging from religion in public schools to end-of-life care. Ten sample questions are included.

"The separation of church and state is what makes America a great nation," said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "At their core, the ads are designed to prompt important conversations about where candidates stand on the critical issue of religious liberty as enshrined in tim First Amendment."

Continued Lynn, "All Americans, whether religious or not, have a right to know where candidates stand on issues that have a real, direct impact on their lives, such as sound science, academic integrity and protections against religious discrimination."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

C. Welton Gaddy, president of TIAF, said, "Religion has played an unusually large role in the 2008 election and, unfortunately, it has been used as a gimmick or a divisive tool rather than a unifying force. First Freedom First focuses on important issues that are at the intersection of religion and public policy--issues that our next president must be prepared to deal with."

The ads are part of the First Freedom First project, a special effort launched by Americans United and TIAF last year. …

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