The role of faith in governance is one that has been debated since the founding of our country. Some people argue that faith has no place in government while others state that for one to govern properly, faith must be a part of it. The Constitution does say that Congress shall make no law "respecting an establishment of religion." This would seem to set up a precedent that the separation of church and state was integral to our founding fathers.
Yet, there are still those who believe faith has a role to play in governance; but whose faith? People who take this view tend to use the words "faith" and "religion" in the context of government, when what they really mean is "my faith" and "my religion."
A perfect example is the attack we saw leveled against Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith. On Friday Oct. 7, Texas pastor and Rick Perry supporter, Robert Jeffress said that republicans should not vote for Romney because he is a Mormon. He claimed the Mormon religion was a "cult."
While the Perry campaign said they disagreed with the remarks, they did not do so in a strong or convincing manner. The Daily Beast, in fact, obtained memos linking the Perry campaign to the remarks. Meanwhile, other republican candidates offered lukewarm criticism but no one seemed willing to rebuke Jeffress. Just days later, Romney spoke at the "Value Voters Summit." The next speaker talked about how only an "authentic" Christian should be allowed to be president.
This is the problem with those who believe faith should be in government. They want their faith in government. We're talking about Mormonism, which is actually a branch of Christianity. Imagine if a Jewish individual ran for president or someone practicing Islam. These same people would be up in arms about it.
This is precisely why faith has no place in politics. The United States of America is culturally and ethnically diverse. We are a land that was founded by immigrants. We have peoples of many different faiths and belief systems. Inevitably, any president who rules or makes decisions specifically based on his or her faith will be misrepresenting all those who do not share that same belief system. That's what Robert Jeffress and those who agree with him fear so much. Coming from a Jewish family, this is something that the Jewish community has experienced through many recent administrations.
Which religion a candidate practices should not matter. Mitt Romney being Mormon should not matter. As long as a leader does not rule by his or her religion, faith is a personal choice, not something that will affect the governance of a nation. The things we should be concerned about are issues like Romney's ability to lead, his stances on hot-button issues and his plans to get us out of the economic crisis. This ridiculous debate about whether a Mormon should be allowed to be president takes away from the true aspects we should be looking at in a presidential candidate.
The attacks on Romney are nothing short of discrimination. The Republican Party, a party that supposedly values freedom above all else, should be ashamed of the way its voters and candidates are acting. Freedom from religious persecution is integral to the foundation of the United States. We should respect that and not be so quick to reject someone simply because he or she is different.