Exercising your faith, among elected officials, is consistent with the letter and spirit of the American Constitution. By letter, as there exists no prohibitive language in the document, and by spirit, “free exercise” means everyone, including politicians.
Republican Presidential candidate Santorum has been taking some heat about his spiritual proclamations, as they apply to current cultural issues. Even President Kennedy, a Catholic like Santorum, has been brought into the discussion. The fear back then was related to the Vatican injecting itself into everyday decisions. Of course, all it amounted to was fear. It was felt, by some, that Catholicism, being a more disciplined faith, would really run the country. Kennedy went to Houston, TX. to a meeting of protestant ministers and laid that anxiety to rest. He further stated he would throw in the political towel, if there arose a violation of his conscience.
There is no wall of separation — codified ! If there were a wall of separation, it would be necessary to repeal the Bill of Rights. Wall of separation was a figure of speech, used by Jefferson in has famous letter to the Danbury Baptists. When you take the totality of Jefferson’s writings on faith, you should conclude that faith complimented good government.
I take the more narrow view of the “establishment clause” in the First Amendment of the Constitution. This means; violations mainly arise from edicts or other forms of coercion, to which, will activate the clause. Also, government is not to show gross favoritism to a certain faith, yet without prohibiting any and all accommodations. The courts, over the years, has dealt with many forms of indoctrination, on a case by case basis. I side with the free exchange of faith and not hostility to religion by the legislatures or the courts.
But, as we don’t have a state religion, none the less, faith, particularly the Christian faith has in days past had a dominant influence in our government. Even non-Christians observed the teaching of Bible and patterned their governance from Holy Scriptures. Any denial of this influence will require brand new historical facts.
What is important is the adherence to freedom; the freedom of conscience. In this sense there is no conflict between the American Constitution and the Holy Bible. The Bill of Rights insures the individual his freedoms, and typically and practically those enumerated freedoms don’t bump into each other when they are extended out. Likewise, the Holy Bible is replete with examples of man’s free will. In fact, much of scripture contains itself with re-directing and the counseling of man in the context of his free will.
So, with all these freedoms, why should our elected or appointed officers of government feel intimidated from exercising his faith ? If the current President, as a Christian, wants to go out on the Mall and move from bench to bench handing out spiritual tracts, is this not his right under the Constitution ? Otherwise, our officers of government would possess less freedom than the rest of us enjoy day to day. By the same token the President, by his oath, as well as the power of the Constitution, must defend any religion he personally finds to be untrue. I realize, the practice of some religions, might prove hostile, but again, the Constitution is probably broad enough to find solutions.
It is not uncommon to find people is all walks of public life seeking spiritual help. Franklin called for prayer at an impasse at the very beginning of the country. Eisenhower prayed at his inaugural. This is the man who led the Allies to victory in Europe during World War II, now needing help and guidance. Lincoln said, at times, he was driven to his knees as he had nowhere else to go under the weight of heavy decisions. Nixon, once asked Henry Kissinger to get down on his knees with him in his office to pray during to agony of Watergate. Former Sec. of State James Baker, once witnessed his faith to a Russian leader, while out on a boat in the Potomac River. Other examples of public faith are easy to find.
A faith that is private is a faith that is suspect.