When Presidential Candidates Talk About God

It is a commonly held belief that American voters want to know about the religious leanings of their presidential candidates.  Do they believe in a god; and if so, which one?  Why do they believe?  And how will this belief inform their policies?  Will they defend the separation of church and state?  Or will they use federal monies to fund “faith-based” initiatives?  These are the sorts of things we want to know … aren’t they?

Last month, USA Today reported on a new study just released by Lifeway Research.  According to their survey of 2000 voters, only 16% of Americans would find themselves more likely to vote for a candidate if he or she were to consistently express religious beliefs in public forums.  Now take a look at some of the other findings:

As you can see, Republicans (32%) are eight times more likely to be positively influenced by a candidate’s religious views than are Democratic voters (4%).  Conversely, more than half of all Democrats (55%) would actively move away from supporting a religiously vocal candidate, as opposed to the 7% of Republicans who would do the same.

So what do you think?  Does a candidate who expresses his or her religious beliefs have the potential to draw you towards them or does it tend to push you away? 

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12 Responses to When Presidential Candidates Talk About God

  1. Carrot says:

    Pushes me away. Religion is a personal matter and anyone who does nothing but talk about it and base all his planned law making on religious text is looking to convert by the metaphorical sword. At that point, go put on armor and sack Jerusalem because that’s about as much religious freedom as you’re giving those under your tenure.

  2. Cal says:

    For me, I can’t imagine someone being a Disciple of Christ Jesus and running to seize the throne of the American Babylon. If anyone claims to be, and I had a voice, I’d just point to Phillipians 2. I certainly won’t vote for someone trying to bring corruption into the Kingdom.

  3. The instant you think people do not care about religion you have to realize anyone who admitted they are not a Christian has never been president. It’s political suicide not to be a Christian. I doubt that Obama is really that religious. Thomas Jefferson was almost completely non-religious. He even wrote his own version of the bible that took out everything he believed to be a fabrication. In America you can’t win the office of the presidency without being a Christian. That’s republican or democrat.

  4. For me, it depends on how he vocalizes his religion. If he is simply telling the world at every turn, “Hey look, I’m a Christian, vote for me!” then I won’t be drawn toward or away from that man. He is simply expressing a ‘religiousness’ in order to be elected. He may or may not be a Christian in the true sense of the word, and he is only using the title to gain favor. If he is genuinely expressing his faith with the knowledge that it will only LESTEN his popularity, but he is doing it for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom, I will be drawn to the man.

    Psalm 33:12 – “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!”

    • I agree with everything Christopher said.

      Just to add on: With all honesty, my respect level for a leader goes WAY up when they not only proclaim their faith, but ACT on it. By “acting on it”, I mean, basing their decisions on what the Word has to say. We are a supposedly “Christian nation” still, right?

      Though, there are some areas in which leaders can go too overboard with ‘religion’ in politics. Today, knowing that a candidate is a “Christian” can either tear down or build up their reputation, it really all depends on how they portray and use it in politics. Like Christopher said, “it depends on how he vocalizes his religion.” That’s what I think. It’s pretty tricky.

  5. Josh The Younger says:

    I would probably be more likely to vote for a Christian than an atheist, but that’s more for political than personal reasons. As personal as a person’s faith is, it necessarily affects their decisions. In the end, though, a president is typically not going to be defined by his religious beliefs but by his broader political convictions. For me, it’s more important to have a president who upholds the constitution. The office of the president isn’t a religious position like being the King of England was in the middle ages. A president who adheres strictly to the constitution wouldn’t curtail religious freedoms anyway.

    Here’s an interesting question: as a Christian (or adherent of any other religion for that matter), would you feel comfortable being president? Personally, I would feel ok being a congressman because your sole job is to vote on laws. Doing that, I could make a personal judgement call on each bill. But as President, I don’t know… It just seems like there’s a lot of morally gray decisions that a chief of state has to make – choices between personal conviction and the good of the nation.

  6. Bob Bryant says:

    All the political talk about religion seems to revolve around the idea of morality. So while Newt Gingrich can call into question why issues of birth control were not brought up once during the Obama election and point to the president’s supporting of infanticide, suggesting an absence of a moral backbone, he turns a blind eye to his own moral shortcomings. Its only at election time that the religious right wants to put the issue of faith in the spotlight, but it plays out like a three ring circus with what these candidates say anymore. I read a preview article on CNN yesterday afternoon that was previewing the final scheduled debate that took place last night in Arizona. Sadly, this article read more like a poster advertisment for the next UFC match that was sure to entertain.

    Having said that, is the legacy of the moral majority coming to an end? I tend to think that it is and that several elections down the road, this country won’t be talking about religion as a center point of an election process.

  7. Ryan M. Mahoney says:

    All other factors being equal between two candidates I would choose a Christian over a non-Christian. Otherwise, any particular expression of faith is often treated with skepticism and a feeling of irrelevance.

  8. Mark Notestine says:

    The religous views do not usually play in to it for me. There are potentially evangelicals that have totally opposite economic, judicial and foreign policy beliefs to mine and therefore I would not vote for them.

    At a thought exercise, say Jim Wallis decided to run for president. He claims to be evangelical and would be closer in religous beliefs to me than Romney, Gingrich or Santorum. In a match up I would not hesitate to vote for the Mormon (Romney) over the evangelical (Wallis). It is a matter of their policy and not religous belief to me.

    As much as politicians talk about God, in practice I don’t see it becoming a deciding factor in most policy decisions. Most of them act as practical atheists whether conservative or liberal.

    Even in the current presidental campaign I am going to vote for the Mormon.

    • Mark Notestine says:

      Oh and if a candidate insults my beliefs, for example a Roman Catholic publicly saying that I am not a real Christian (Santorum may or may not have said this depending upon how you take “mainline Protestant” in the context of his speech at Ava Maria) then I will definately not vote for them. Not because they insulted my religous beliefs but because they would be dumb enought to say it publicly.

  9. Dave says:

    It’s bad enough we have to endure their idiotic and disingenuous political claims, why should we have to hear their hair-brained and patronizing religious statements too?

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