2012-03-01 / Columns

Race shows blurry line with politics and religion

By Tim Skubick

Never mix politics with religion. That was the saying many moons ago.

Just recall the hub-bub over John Kennedy, the Catholic, running for president in the 60’s and many voters feared that the Pope would move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Nowadays that line is crossed so much, you can’t ascertain where one ends and the other begins. To be sure there are those who call for the separation of church and state, but lots of luck with that.

Heck we even had a minister run for president years ago. Think his name was Pat Robertson. And come to find out we have another one running right now.

Sure enough. Mitt Romney was a pastor for the Mormon church and while Rick Santorum never wore the cloth, he wears his religion on his sleeve daily.

So given the fact that you can mix religion and politics, how about this out of left field question to the two main contenders in the GOP race for the White House: Does God want you to be president?

Now before you go dashing off a nasty comment because the question might offend you, here’s the reason for asking it: What would the candidates say?

Mr. Santorum noted that, “I do feel like I was called to do this.”

When asked who did the calling he laughed and added, “I don’t hear voices if that’s what you are asking?” Good answer because there are some folks out there who contend God does speak to them and had Mr. Santorum admitted that?

Well let’s just say it might have caused some voters to pause before they plunked for him.

He expanded on his answer revealing that he tried to “walk the path” as he tried to discern “what God’s will is for your life.”

Mr. Romney, on the other hand, who is very dedicated to his Mormon religion, is not nearly as open about his faith as his challenger. He’s concerned his religion may cost him votes.

So the God question drew a quite different response from him ... a non response.

“My wife Ann wants me to be president,” he suggested after first laughing at the nature of the question itself as he deftly brushed it aside.

Rather than get into a dicey dissertation on God, Mr. Romney reflects that at the time he was reluctant to run again after falling short four years ago. So it was his wife who broached the subject after she changed her mind.

As the former Massachusetts governor tells it, she concluded that he was just the man to unseat the incumbent president and while he initially brushed aside her overtures, he obviously concluded she was right and so here he is.

But given his strong faith, he must have prayed on the issue before his hat went back in the ring?

He confirmed that he often prayed to the “The Eternal.”

In fact Mr. Romney used his religious background to fend off one of the strongest criticisms he confronts; that of being a millionaire and being uncommonly out of touch with the common folks.

Asked if he was in touch with the less fortunate, he reflected on his days as a minister when he dealt with folks who suffered long term unemployment, had marriages on the rocks and faced depression. So despite his selfdescribed blessed life, he asserts he is no stranger to suffering.

And the blurring of the line and the mixing of politics and religion rolls on.

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