Religion and the race for president: A south Georgia pastor’s take

The Rev. Michael Ruffin, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald – that’s down between Warner Robins and Valdosta – has posted an excellent, delicate piece on religion and the coming presidential election.

Read the entire article here – this is only a taste:

In the mid-1970s I asked my late, great father, who would these days be considered something akin to a Blue Dog Democrat, for whom he had voted in the 1960 presidential election. He looked sheepish as he said, “I’m not ashamed that I voted for Nixon, but I am ashamed of why; I was afraid if Kennedy got elected the Pope would be running the country.”

I find it interesting, given the Cold War in which we were engaged at the time, that my father and others did not find Nixon’s Quaker religious affiliation equally or even more troubling, given that faith’s belief in pacifism.

Of course, President Nixon was not a pacifist, was he?

And President Kennedy was not, when it came to his policies, beholden to the Vatican, was he?

As my father and many others have shown, voters tend to pay close attention to the religious affiliations—even though those affiliations may or may not reveal much about the candidates’ actual beliefs—of some candidates and not so much attention to those of other candidates. Put simply, we tend to analyze closely the religion of those candidates whom we oppose on other grounds in the hope that we can find further reason to oppose them.

It will be interesting to see if the left-leaning media examines Gov. Romney’s Mormonism as closely as the right-leaning media examined Sen. Obama’s Christianity.

As I said, there’s more. Go read it. We’ll wait til you get back.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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71 comments Add your comment

sheepdawg

April 29th, 2012
12:48 pm

Religion doesn’t belong in government in any form or fashion. This should be a non-issue, but unfortunately, there are still many Georgians who are programmed like the Reverend’s late, great father. It’ll take a couple more generations to completely purge the deep south of ingrained ignorance based on religion.

Look before I leap...

April 29th, 2012
12:59 pm

@sheepdawg
Religious based ignorance is neither confined to the deep south nor will it disappear in two generations.
It is here to stay. Mankind has had its superstitions since the first the first Neanderthal asked himself “why” and “how”.

Weetamoe

April 29th, 2012
1:12 pm

The foolish ideas about Obama’s religion and birthplace were originally carefully placed insinuations by the Clinton camp during the 2008 campaign and the dumb republicans who believed or wanted to believe those rumors have done great harm to their own credibility. In all honesty, that dog won’t hunt. On the other hand, Obama’s talent is underrated; unprecedented, in fact. He has managed to be both shifty and shiftless at the same time.

Look before I leap...

April 29th, 2012
1:19 pm

“…both shifty and shiftless at the same time.”

A talent possessed by many a politician.

Bennie

April 29th, 2012
1:53 pm

Bill Mahr has had no problem attacking Mormons as a bs religion. Not terribly thoughtful or terribly helpful. But par for the course.

The left spent the spring trying to foster questions about Romney’s faith with conservatives to no avail. Now they are doing to have to do the dirty work themselves. And the left never has a problem with dirty work.

Look before I leap...

April 29th, 2012
2:03 pm

@Bennie
There was more than a little Mormon bashing from the right in the early days of the primary.
While I think Maher is a d!ck and completely unfunny, he is an equal-opportunity religion basher.

Centrist

April 29th, 2012
2:27 pm

Enlightening that Galloway quoted this: “It will be interesting to see if the left-leaning media examines Gov. Romney’s Mormonism”.

Look before I leap… posted “Neanderthal asked himself ‘why’ and ‘how’.”
But it was Friedrich Nietzsche who said: “He who has a why can endure any how”.

I, too, hope that religion stays out of this campaign. I (too) have my doubts.

Tom

April 29th, 2012
2:40 pm

“I like the fairy tale this guy believes in more than the fairy tale that guy believes in” is a crappy to choose our elected officials.

John Parks Brown

April 29th, 2012
2:59 pm

Thus spake Zarathustra: They’re both charlatans and frauds.

duke

April 29th, 2012
3:21 pm

Jeremiah Wright, President Obama’s pastor in Chicago for 20 years, preached Black Liberation Theology. It is communist ideology expressed in religious terminology, with a nasty racist twist. The love of Christ is not a historical force unless it engages the class struggle. The Bible is about the Black race; after suffering through slavery and other tribulations, the Black race is entering the Promised Land; they will drive the heathen out of it.

So how does this affect the way they perform their governmental duties? During the last presidential election, three members of the New Black Panther Party were captured on video tape, standing at a polling place wearing paramilitary uniforms. One of them held a large night stick. They were intimidating White voters. A veteran poll watcher, who had observed elections in the South during the Civil Rights movement, said it was the worst case of voter intimidation he had ever seen. When the perpetrators failed to appear in court, the judge issued a default judgment against them. Then the Obama Justice Department intervened to drop the charges. More recently, Obama’s Justice Department has refused to take action against the New Black Panther Party for putting a bounty of the head of George Zimmerman.

This stuff matters. Our American founders had a very sophisticated understanding about the relationship between religion and government. Modern Americans have no clue about it, because they are theologically illiterate. That includes quite a few ordained ministers.

The greatest threat to the survival of our free republic is the silencing of religious speech in our public square. The American philosophy of government explicitly relies upon religion to tame the unruly passions of the human soul. John Adams said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion… Our Constitution was made only for a moral and a religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” George Washington agreed: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports… And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

“Liberty” is a technical term in Christian theology, the precise definition of which requires a summary exegesis of the entire Bible. Christ sets us free from the law because He sets us free from sin. The concept was not known in the Earth until it was preached by Jesus. For the ancient Greeks, liberty was a negative term suggesting lawlessness; and for non-Christians, that is exactly what it turns out to be. The cure for anarchy is tyranny, and that is where it usually ends up. The Enlightenment concept of liberty is a Christian heresy. Proclaiming liberty based on the Enlightenment concept of the innate goodness of man, the French Revolution (1789) quickly deteriorated into a bloodthirsty, rapacious tyranny. The American Revolution (1776) proclaimed liberty based on the Puritan concept of man’s utter depravity apart from God’s redeeming grace; it produced the oldest written Constitution still in use in the world today.

In 1845 the French intellectual Alexis de Tocqueville spent a year touring the United States, trying to understand why we succeeded where the French failed. He concluded that it was because of our religious mores. “I do not know whether all Americans are sincere about their religion,” he wrote, “For who can know the heart of a man; but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable for the maintenance of republican principles.”

None of our early Presidents- including Thomas Jefferson, who was not a Christian- would have had the slightest hesitation about decreeing a national day of prayer based on the following theme: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Dee

April 29th, 2012
3:50 pm

I would never vote for Romney……………… Mormon or NOT. He can’t relate to me as a middle-class working mother and wife.

OneStep

April 29th, 2012
4:10 pm

The one thing that Republicans and Democrats can agree on in this election; that’s the need for jobs. However, anyone who believes that Romney will provide this missing element of economic success (….JOBS) fail to acknowledge his past. It’s true….. he’s mormon and he’s a successful business man. But, looking at his past…. he’s not the kind of business man we need running this country. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I like my jobs in the good old USA and I have an issue with professionals who buy organizations to restructure or reorganize; just to send a large percentage of the workforce to the unemployment line.

I respect those who will vote for him just because of his political affiliation, rather than those who successful sell the lie that he will be good for JOBS. He’s all about the $$$ signs in business, not about whether the middle class will have jobs in 2013 and greater.

Centrist

April 29th, 2012
4:22 pm

OneStep posted “I like my jobs in the good old USA and I have an issue with professionals who buy organizations to restructure or reorganize; just to send a large percentage of the workforce to the unemployment line.”

Romney’s company, Bain Capital, has saved hundreds of troubled companies from liquidation (entire loss of jobs). Here are some of the more notable: AMC Entertainment, Aspen Education Group, Brookstone, Burger King, Burlington Coat Factory, Clear Channel Communications, Domino’s Pizza, DoubleClick, Dunkin’ Donuts, D&M Holdings, Guitar Center, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Sealy, The Sports Authority, Staples, Toys “R” Us, Warner Music Group and The Weather Channel.

True, during transitions there have been some necessary layoffs and some companies could not be saved. But many not only were saved – they thrived creating many more jobs than lost.

Real Athens

April 29th, 2012
4:23 pm

“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”

George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792

WAW

April 29th, 2012
4:39 pm

duke: Lemme guess, you ain’t black, you honor your Southern History, and you’ve never read the Jefferson Bible (although since you say he was not a Christian, you probably have heard about all the black people with his DNA). One note to your telling of history, Diest are not Evangelical Christians either.

Peace

April 29th, 2012
4:51 pm

“duke: Lemme guess, you ain’t black, you honor your Southern History, and you’ve never read the Jefferson Bible (although since you say he was not a Christian, you probably have heard about all the black people with his DNA). One note to your telling of history, Diest are not Evangelical Christians either.”

What does this have to do with anything that ‘Duke’ posted?

SKE

April 29th, 2012
4:52 pm

I don’t know why people think that religion has no place in politics. That is just as silly a belief as to think that race is not a factor in the good ole USA. Religion has everything to do with the election or the lack thereof. Every belief in humankind has come from some faith principle, e.g. Marriage, punishment, utopia, etc.

Rightwingers have said that the POTUS is not a Christian when he says he is. Mr Romney is a Mormon of which the whole Christian community has said is not Christian. I want to see how the Right is going to set Mr Romney up as being the candidate of choice to defeat the current POTUS even though they do not consider him a Christian.

The hypocrisy of the right has shown me that the current POTUS is more considered not eligible because of the color of his skin than his faith.

OneStep

April 29th, 2012
4:54 pm

Centrist

April 29th, 2012
4:22 pm

If they were thriving we would see hiring signs out front, on places like career builders and local newspapers.

WAW

April 29th, 2012
5:04 pm

Peace: Everything! I don’t care for whom, but I am confident that duke, you and I will vote. That’s the American Way! Whether we pray about it or not makes NO difference. The United States is government not a religion.

GET REAL

April 29th, 2012
5:17 pm

Romney would be an undesirable candidate no matter what his religious affiliations are. His wealth has made him insensitive to what the average, working American has to deal with everyday. He grew up in wealth and has never strayed one day from it. He is insulated by his wealth. Even the Kennedys, as wealthy as they were, had far more understanding and appreciation for the struggles that middle-class and under-class Americans deal with. Romney, his wife and his entire family don’t have a clue.

hryder

April 29th, 2012
5:37 pm

A few comments decry Romney being involved in purchasing a company that was in the process of going totally down the drain with all of its jobs disappearing. When the company was sold it was clearing a profit and a percentage of the jobs still existed. Everyone in the know was aware that all jobs could not be saved and many believed that none could be saved. I believe that it is much better to have a percentage of the jobs and the company an on going profit earning concern than all of the jobs and that company no linger existing. AND this was accomplished through the use of other than tax payers being on the hook for financing. Private citizens would have gone broke not the country.

jconservative

April 29th, 2012
5:39 pm

Most people are ignorant of all religions but their own. But they form opinions of other religions based on their ignorance of those other religions. And an opinion based on ignorance is by definition ignorant.

The thought often heard is “so and so is going to hell”. Yet if you ask that person who decides who goes to hell or not, they will always reply “God” decides. Yet they do not hesitate to try to do God’s job; apparently feeling they are much more qualified than God to make such momentous decisions.

DeborahinAthens

April 29th, 2012
5:48 pm

Peace, I think WAW was saying Duke is full of s#i%. Read his diatribe. See, these guys are all for religion in politics until it is not their religion. That’s one of the things that I wish someone in the media would throw in these idiots’ faces when they’re ranting about President Obama’s being. Muslim. You see, if he was a Muslim it shouldn’t make any difference because the president can be Muslim. He or she can be a Buddhist, or a Wiccan. The sad thing is these bozos keep electing the biggest idiots, the most unethical, lying SOBs because they are afraid of the ones that don’t believe in their philosophy. It is dangerous.

thetruth

April 29th, 2012
5:51 pm

NEW YORK (AP) – Authorities say an out-of-control van plunged off a highway into a ravine on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo in New York City, killing seven people aboard, including three children.

This was a Republican van driven by a Republican driver. Probably drunk and high too.

hryder

April 29th, 2012
5:56 pm

How many of you commenting are personally acquainted with Mormons? I am. There are a much greater percentage of Mormons carrying out their Christian denomination’s mission than any other major Christian denomination of which I am aware. Also note, that rarely when a person employs an all inclusive term is the statement true. Why? Because it only takes one example to disprove a stated always, never, etc.(an all inclusive term).VOTE OUT ALL INCUMBENT ELECTED OFFICE HOLDERS IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS! Aim for this even though we know it will not occur due to the use of the all inclusive term all.

Centrist

April 29th, 2012
6:16 pm

SKE posted “I don’t know why people think that religion has no place in politics…Mr Romney is a Mormon of which the whole Christian community has said is not Christian. I want to see how the Right is going to set Mr Romney up as being the candidate of choice to defeat the current POTUS…”

Our Constitution and government is based on the concept that we have separation of church and state. There are those who refuse to accept this.

Mormons are certainly a denomination of Christianity, although neither Protestant or Catholic. Mormons believe in the Bible and Jesus Christ. We have mostly resolved differences between denominations in the U.S., unlike in other places like Ireland. The “Right” is not monolithic and most on that side of the political spectrum will vote for Romney with little trepidation concerning his being a Mormon. There WILL be some all over the political spectrum trying to make this an issue – that is the thrust of this blog subject.

SKE

April 29th, 2012
6:18 pm

@hryder……NOPE! Many of the incumbents are doing a good job! The fringe groups are making it harder for the incumbents to carry out the government of the people. Don’t want to see any likes of Mr Romney as POTUS.

SKE

April 29th, 2012
6:27 pm

@Centrist…You are so incorrect. The Constitution does not mention ’seperation of church and state’. President Lincoln wrote this phrase as a response to letters written to him by an ‘interest’ group. People have incorrectly said the Constitution mentions this phrase. So your missive is wrong on the facts. The race of the current POTUS is more of an issue for some folks than his faith. The Right just will not admit it. Mormons are not Christian I don’t care what you say. I could care if he were a Baptist, I still would not vote for him. Mr Huckabee would have been a better candidate for the Right

Centrist

April 29th, 2012
6:50 pm

@ SKE – It is YOU who is absolutely incorrect. I never said the Constitiution has the phrase “separation of church and state” – read my post again and you will see I said “Our Constitution and government is BASED on the concept”.

The concept of separating church and state is often credited to the writings of English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704). These views on religious tolerance and the importance of individual conscience, along with his social contract, became particularly influential in the American colonies and the drafting of the United States Constitution. The actual phrase “separation of church and state” is derived from a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to Baptists from Danbury, Connecticut, and published in a Massachusetts newspaper soon thereafter – long before Lincoln. In that letter, referencing the First Amendment of the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Real American

April 29th, 2012
6:55 pm

ahh, and there is duke to remind us that the Deliverance constituency is still alive.

Bill from Atlanta

April 29th, 2012
7:13 pm

Oh Ske, why are you mentioning anything regarding the Constitution? A document that has been in the way of your “POTUS” and his socialist agenda for the last three years! What gripes me about you liberals is that you are philosophically dishonest. You cite the Constitution to protect your free liberal speech but when the time comes, you will gladly destroy it to keep your liberal power. Race an issue? I didn’t know Obama was black at least according to the race baiting Jesse Jackson he wasn’t. Obama and the left scare me because they will make this society one gigantic Plantation or Gulag or whatever you want to call it. I don’t want to sell my freedom for the u.s. government to “take care of me” Yeah I’m proud I’m part of that “fringe” you quote that had the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Adams etc. etc. I worry for my children the world you liberals are creating.

Real Athens

April 29th, 2012
7:24 pm

The only difference I see between Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard is about 100 years.

SKE

April 29th, 2012
7:35 pm

@Bill from America…, I guess it makes you feel good when you can label me a liberal. So be it! Since you are soooo worried and your children growing up in a world that liberals are creating, come up with a better candidate. Shux, at least Jeb Bush!

SKE

April 29th, 2012
7:39 pm

@Centrist…..sorry for misinterpreting your comment to me.

SKE

April 29th, 2012
7:41 pm

@Bill from Atlanta….Typo in the aformentioned post…..

td

April 29th, 2012
7:43 pm

Screw republicans. They must all burn in hell!

SKE

April 29th, 2012
7:51 pm

@Centrist, I still maintain that faith has everything to do with the welfare of this country. Separating church from state, which is impossible, is like seperating the hydrogen molecule from H20! You no longer have WATER. Fringe groups make it impossible to govern and their effectiveness will come to an end after this election cycle.

Centrist

April 29th, 2012
8:05 pm

Painting Romney or anyone else with every facet of the religion they were born into is ignorance or partisanship. Romney does not try to convert anyone that I have heard of. He lives a clean life.

I was baptized in a Protestant religion, but slowly rejected most parts of it. SKE says “faith has everything to do with the welfare of this country” and probably really believes that. I do not have religious faith, but do have faith in the ideals and basis of the USA. I abide by the rules of society, have morals and ethics. Secular humanism does not have to be pious – we have all seen where there are those who profess to have a deep faith are actually total hypocrites. NOBODY and no religion has a lock on right and wrong for themselves, their neighbor, or other citizens of the world – some just do a better job at trying to balance humanity than others. There are differences of opinion about that, and there are self-interested opinions with the two hard to separate.

SKE

April 29th, 2012
8:26 pm

@Centrist, you sound and talk like one that has rejected their foundation. People that base their beliefs on a general sense of good sounds like Steven Hawking, the British physicist. These type people think other people are off that take hold to faith for matters of existense. So what, nothing is wrong with partisanship. One always has to make choices. Hense, that is the reason faith has everything to do with the founding of this country and politics. The memoirs of Christopher Columbus are an interesting read and is in stark contrast to your assertions of having faith out of politics!! NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!!! Ask Israel if faith has anything to do with their nation!!! They will soundly disagree with you.

Bill from Atlanta

April 29th, 2012
8:34 pm

ske…your not just a liberal your a socialist maybe a marxist you want the government (by force if necessary) to control everything…set the rules and “take care of everybody….give everyone a fair shake or a square deal as FDR used to say. Sorry if it quacks like a duck it must be a duck and you like OBAMA which means you are either completely fooled which I doubt or you have a left wing philosophy which is inline whith our Marxist “POTUS”. Obviously, I am only basing my limited knowledge of you from what I read but I’m guessing I’m not far off. Hmmm, I wish there was someone was out there that could reverse the speedy trend this country has been taking since the eighties but I don’t see him. Yeah I’ll vote for anyone who has a chance at beating Obama but I’m not completely satisfied with the current candidates. If only someone was out there that could radically reverse the growth and dependency on the junk that comes out of DC. Oh well, will keep trying :)

SKE

April 29th, 2012
8:46 pm

@Bill from Atlanta…..you are not a good conversationalist. You can only call names or label people. That makes you trite and uninteresting.

Centrist

April 29th, 2012
9:38 pm

@ SKE – Thanks for the comparison to the genius Steven Hawking, but not even in the neighborhood.

Party affiliation is different than blind partisanship, but lets not debate semantics.

The Greeks and the Romans gave up their gods. The Romans were pagan when they fought Christianity for 400 years. Our forefathers were mostly Deists – Pilgrims were fleeing the religious fanatics who considered executing Galileo for saying the Earth was not the center of existence, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Church of England – governments intertwined with religion. Columbus was part of the same. Israel and most of the rest of the Middle East lives now as then, and the U.S. government was/is purposely created to AVOID that.

Hot Dog

April 29th, 2012
9:56 pm

SKE

Hey SKE…

April 29th, 2012
8:46 pm

@Bill from Atlanta…..you are not a good conversationalist. You can only call names or label people. That makes you trite and uninteresting.

I agree with you 100%. It’s unfortunate that his whole conversation is laced with labels. It is very obvious that he suffers from a closed mind mentality. Perhaps he needs to mingle with real people so he can learn how to think for himself.

Geta

April 29th, 2012
11:00 pm

Freedom FROM religion is how it was originally pinned.

The Constitution.

One theme runs through all religions – the Golden Rule.

Yet more people have been murdered in the name of religion than any other “cause”.

Freedom FROM religion – religion is made by Man.

matthew hates georgia

April 29th, 2012
11:14 pm

this republican will never vote for a mormon ..and will never vote for a rich out of touch guy like mitt romney from the northeast..he is a snob and is very out of touch with middle class and working americans aka as he cant feel our pain and struggles..i will vote for president Obama..smart,intelligent and the best republican president we have ever had even though he is a democrat..him getting bin laden sold it for me..romney said getting bin laden wasnt worth the money…NOW WHO WOULD VOTE FOR SUCH PERSON WITH THIS MINDSET

honested

April 29th, 2012
11:24 pm

It is truly a shame that our Country does not value the clear, precise judgement of Athiests in our Presidential contests.

Why does being the ‘biggest addict to an imaginary friend’ qualify anyone to lead a country?

RGB

April 29th, 2012
11:46 pm

Yet another Galloway forum for Christian bashers.

Question for Geta: If man made religion, then who made man?

History shows that:

29 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence had seminary degrees.

1st Public Law School in America: “The Old Deluder Satan Act”. For the next 320 years the Bible was used regularly in public schools.

June 17, 1963 the Supreme Court removed the use of the Bible in schools in a double decision. (Are we better off now that we are “protected from” religion? We didn’t need “resource officers” back then.)

Finally: Congress printed the first English language Bible in the United States. Yes, Congress.

splavistic

April 29th, 2012
11:54 pm

I personally think that anybody who ‘clings’ to fairy tales and ‘guns’ is one of the scariest of the scary and should NEVER be elected to ANY office. It is quite conflicted to believe in stories of a peaceful, loving Man-God, yet horde weapons, believe in capital punishment, and torture.

pb

April 30th, 2012
12:21 am

Matthew hates Georgia,
your name says it all. why don’t you leave georgia if you hate it so badly.

Hard working taxpayer

April 30th, 2012
1:21 am

I just don’t understand why those that actualluy pay taxes let the democratic party take our money to buy votes from the lazy union workers and others that too sorry to get off their a$$’s and work. It has nothing to do with race or religion. You shouldn’t be penalized for being successful!