The Religious Voter

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If the claim that religion in politics is dwindling, or more that the religious voter is dwindling, then why is it that Rick Warren, the founder and senior pastor of the 22,000-member Saddleback Church in Lake Forest California and a somewhat “superstar” Christian, hosting a presumptive presidential forum on faith makes such a big splash?

The forum did not focus mainly on presidential policy as most debates would or campaigning but focused on issues of faith and character, philosophy and convictions. Are these the things that the voter finds important in their presidential candidate, more than how they run our country?

Warren claimed that he was, “hoping an upcoming presidential forum at his church… will give American voters a more thorough understanding of the ‘faith, values, character, competence, leadership convictions and worldview’ of presumptive presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain.” (http://www.onenewsnow.com/Election2008/Default.aspx?id=186784)

Doesn’t knowing their personal views on these sorts of issues interfere with the separation of church and state, they technically cannot vote based on religion, they should vote based on the issues and religion should not tie in. Warren- “I believe in separation of church and state, but I don’t believe in separation of faith and politics.” Do Americans agree with Warren on this issue?

Warren claims that “typical election topics such as immigration, energy and health care are either outside the president’s direct authority or fairly insignificant in the larger scheme of history.” (http://www.ocregister.com/articles/warren-going-people-2118790-forum-don) But these are the issues that make our country. These are the issues that are defining our history now. Is it really fair to say that these issues don’t affect how we vote, but religion does?

But the numbers prove that maybe Warren is right with the forum attracting more than 5.6 million viewers (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/20/arts/20arts-OLYMPICSANDP_BRF.html?ref=arts). Maybe people do want to hear the other side of the presumptive candidates, the less political side. The ratings give an idea of how wrong researchers might have been when they said that Americans are no longer serious about religion. Studies say that 85% of Americans claim to be religious and that 70% expect their president to be a man of religion. (http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1833118,00.html?cnn=yes) Although both McCain and Obama faced problems during their primary campaigns dealing with pastors and their more embarrassing remarks. Democratic Obama, though, seems to be taking a large portion of the religious vote, which used to belong almost solely to the Republicans. McCain has faced problems in his campaign because of his avoidance of talking about religious issues and his personal religion. This could mean hope for his race in his frankness of faith and religion at this forum.

The forum, although not a debate, was about the candidates opposing views. They are each a tougher opponent than first though by the other candidate and as the numbers in the polls grow closer the candidates will have to heat up the debate. Both have strong ideas that were openly addressed in this forum. (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/08/17/forum/index.html) Both have much at stake and this area could make or break the race for them. With the religious vote more open than ever before they have to fight for the vote and this forum was their attempt. A beneficial night for both McCain and Obama, this forum could push the race either way.

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1 Comment

Filed under Religion, Uncategorized

One response to “The Religious Voter

  1. Stephen Noriega

    Warren’s forum is probably a good window into the priorities of many Americans. Frank’s book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas” wonders why people vote against their economic interest for conservative candidates. His critics argue that the voters are voting their interests and that the economy is less important than some values in the candidates. Even the deist Madison went to church when the election neared.

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