Debate surfaces over separation of church and state
Religion was once a forgotten issue in politics. The issue could be anything but forgotten in the 2008 presidential election.
Voters may disagree on the separation of church and state, but must be aware that some political philosophies may stem from religious beliefs.
Steve Fenberg is a CU graduate and executive director for New Era Colorado, a non-profit organization for the reinvention of politics for the current generation.
Fenberg said religion does not play a large part in his personal life and will not generally affect his voting decisions. Fenberg was raised Jewish. Although he doesn’t practice, the only way a candidate’s religion would concern him is if they were Jewish.
Fenberg “didn’t like (Joseph) Lieberman,” when the Jewish senator from Connecticut was a vice presidential candidate in 2000.
“A candidate’s religion can give insight into who that candidate is as a person,” Fenberg said.
Some candidates may use religion as a campaign strategy.
“Hillary now wears a cross,” Fenberg said. “It’s all about image, rather than who they are.”
Ashley Palmer, a junior humanities and ethnic studies major, is also a member of New Era Colorado. She said a candidate straying from traditional campaign tactics might not receive as many mainstream votes.
“Our country is used to the typical white male of a certain age and the same religion,” Palmer said. “It’s ingrained in our society,”
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more generally known as the Mormon religion.
Fenberg said for Mormons, Romney’s religion matters more than to other voters.
“Everyone (at Brigham Young University) is campaigning for him. They want to get a ‘good Mormon’ in office. Religion shapes who he is in his campaign,” Fenberg said. “It categorizes (Romney) as something.”
Alexandra Oatman, a sophomore French major and member of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, said atypical religions catch more attention than Christianity.
Mormonism isn’t as generally accepted, and whether they should or not, voters pay more attention to this secretive religion, Oatman said.
CoPIRG’s professional campus organizer, Cory Nadler, said he would “prefer a candidate who separates church and state.” He said it’s obvious that someone of a certain religion would be inclined to vote for a candidate of the same religion.
Tri-executive Sara Davine, a senior international affairs and Spanish major, said religion has no standing in office.
“Our government was formed on the principle of maintaining separation of church and state and that ideal should remain constant, especially today when religion often causes so much controversy in the world,” Davine said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Alyssa Shapiro at email@example.com
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