As I was reading about how radio host Tim Farley, of “The Morning Briefing with Tim Farley” radio program, immediately cut off Retired Air Force Colonel Dick Brauer, Jr. after he started spewing the wingnut lie about how Obama is a Muslim, I just couldn’t help myself as I blurted out “it’s about damn time.” Someone finally took the microphone away and said he wasn’t going to let him start spouting his untruths.
The Republican’s obsession with trying to convince the American public that President Obama is a Muslim, is just nuts. The man has been elected president twice and not running for the presidency again. Why does it matter anyway.
For the first two hundred years of this country, most of our presidents worked diligently to keep their religious lives private and to keep some sort of wall between their religion and their Presidency. Two of our most famous Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, were unaffiliated with any religion.
Even though he is considered one of our greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln probably would not be nominated, much less elected today because he never joined a church, never publicly confessed a creed, nor publicly uttered belief in God’s endorsement of his policies.
Andrew Jackson conscientiously refused to allow his religion to be a part of his office. Jackson was called on by members of Congress and influential religious leaders to call for a national day of prayer and fasting in response to a cholera epidemic. Jackson refused, stating that to do so would be to transcend “those limits which are prescribed by the Constitution for the President,” and he feared that this religious encroachment could “disturb the security which religion now enjoys in this country in its complete separation from the political concerns of the General Government.”
So, during my lifetime I have witnessed the Republicans hatred for President Obama because he might be a Muslim (and he is black); their animosity towards John F. Kennedy because he was a Catholic; and their loathing of Jimmy Carter who was a devout Southern Baptist Christian. Yet, they were more than willing to run Mitt Romney for president and he was a Mormon (nothing bad, just not one of their kind).
The Republicans were so fixated on John Kennedy’s Catholicism and the possibility that his religion (i.e. Pope) may influence his presidential decisions, they made it a national religious issue. To mitigate this Republican obsession with his Catholicism, on September 12, 1960, Kennedy delivered the speech of his political career in Houston, Texas, before a crowd of several hundred mostly Protestant ministers. Kennedy was addressing what he referred to as “the so-called religious issue.” As Kennedy saw it, the nation was facing a raft of issues from the threat of Soviet communism to hunger and despair at home. “These are,” he argued, “the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues—for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barrier.” Nonetheless, JFK knew he had to address the question of his Catholicism. Kennedy famously declared, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the president—-should he be Catholic—how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote,” and he concluded, “I do not speak for my church on public matters; and the church does not speak for me.” Earlier in his career in Congress, JFK once quipped that in Boston they learned their politics at home and their religion from Rome. As JFK put it, “I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation, or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.”
Now that was a great speech on keeping church and state separate.
Fast forward to today and we see that we have now done a 180º degree flip and the Republicans want exactly the opposite of what John Kennedy said. Now it is all about church influencing and guiding state policies and ministers telling their parishioners for whom they should vote. Do I see a Supreme Court decision in the future stating that keeping church and state separate is unconstitutional?
That is crazy you say. Think about it. Think about how politicized and radical the evangelicals have become in the last twenty years. Maybe not so crazy.