Tag Archives: presidential elections

Santorum to host rally in Spokane

By Tracy Simmons
SpokaneFAVS.com

UPDATE: SANTORUM TO HOLD RALLY AT 3 P.M., THURSDAY – NOT NOON, AS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has broad appeal among some evangelical voters because his conservative Catholic views dovetail with their social concerns. RNS photo courtesy Gage Skidmore.

On Thursday presidential candidate Rick Santorum will hold a rally at New Life Assembly Church in Spokane.

Spokane County GOP Chairman Matthew Pederson made the announcement today.

Santorum’s religiosity has made lots of headlines lately. He says he’s a devout Catholic and recently said President Barack Obama’s agenda “is based on ‘some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.'”

This week he got more attention when he told talk show host Glenn Beck that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.” He also has called President Obama a “snob” for wanting more Americans to attend college.

However experts have challenged this claim.

Presidential hopeful Ron Paul will also be in Spokane this week. On Friday, at noon, he’ll hold a rally at the Spokane Convention Center. He’s mostly stayed out of the religion limelight and has many Muslims rallying for him.

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Should a presidential candidate’s religion matter to voters? Why or why not?

Mitt Romney/RNS Photo

Mitt Romney’s commitment to the Mormon faith is making headlines. Newt Gingrich has been a Baptist, Lutheran and now a Roman Catholic. Muslims are rooting for Ron Paul. Rick Santorum is in hot water after saying equality comes from Christianity only, not from Islam or eastern religions.

Religion has become a hot topic when it comes to the presidential elections. SpokaneFAVS asked our contributors what they thought.

Should a presidential candidate’s religion matter to voters? Why or why not? 

Sr. Teresa Jackson

I suppose like most people, if I am really honest, I think, “yes, as long as their faith is similar to mine!”  But, like most people, I also try to resist that thought and take a more high-minded approach to the question.  But the underlying issue is still there.  We want our political leaders to be people of integrity, courage and values and of course we want to elect the people whose integrity, courage and values reflects our own!

In our society and political discourse we seem to be increasingly unable to compromise for a larger common good, to see that other people’s point of view may have some validity, to discuss political issues with resorting to personal insults.  Perhaps as the level of vitriol in the political discourse rises we increasingly reflect the adage, “we get the government we deserve.”

We claim we don’t want politicians who use their faith to pander to voters but do we mean it?  If someone running for office represents a party or point of view that I don’t agree with and he or she makes strong statements of faith it is easy to dismiss that person.  If, on the other hand, they espouse a set of faith values that I agree with then they are clearly someone of integrity!

For many of us, including many sincere people who run for office, faith is at the core of who we are, it defines our sense of values and identity.  But hopefully for all of us faith of whatever sort also includes compassion, the ability to listen with love, to forgive, to be open, to leave whatever judgment is necessary to God.  To embrace these aspects of our faith, and to tell our elected leaders that we expect the same, in no way compromises our faith.  To say that we expect that everyone in the public arena to treat others with respect is to call all of us to a higher practice of our faith no matter what that might be.

Sr. Teresa Jackson

M.C. Paul

A candidate’s religion certainly does matter to voters. 

Religion is, above all, a personal choice and may be indicative of a person’s worldview. In that way, religious affiliation may offer insights regarding a person’s character. I say “may” because who am I to say what convictions are deeply held and will be acted upon?

Having said that, there are many reasons for choosing to be part of a particular religion. A person may be following the religion of their family, e.g. the ‘Cradle Catholic.’ On the other hand, he or she may have chosen their religious affiliation based on perceived benefits of ‘belonging to’ a particular group.  Either way, voters do well to consider the religious affiliation of a potential president, or any elected official, as a way of gauging how that person will address the pressing issues of our day.

–        M. C. Paul 

Pastor Eric Blauer

Absolutely.

I want to know the philosophical and theological underpinnings of a potential leader’s character, way of thinking and value system.

Worldviews are always at work in the formation of leaders; just as education, economics, gender and family background shape a person’s life.

All of this contributes to the person I am being asked to potentially vote for and who will assume one of the most powerful positions in the world.

One’s view of God most often translates into how that person treats humanity. Your source of morality, its teaching and your commitment to exercising that system of belief will be at work in the decisions a president makes.

What you think and believe matters to me.

–       Eric Blauer

Thomas J. Brown

A presidential candidate’s religion should not matter to voters, nor should it matter to the candidate. When making any decision the president will undoubtedly seek guidance from his or her religious beliefs (if he or she has any). As long as the president acts in the best interest of the citizens of this nation it doesn’t matter what he or she believes. Acting in the best interests of the citizens may go against the president’s personal beliefs, and a good president will put aside his or her own preferences and heed the vox populi. Indeed, this should be true of every elected official, as they are elected into office to represent their constituents (a quality sadly lacking in most politicians these days).

Thomas J. Brown

Rev. Bill Ellis

The notion that the electorate should be concerned about the fact that a candidate is Mormon — which, let’s face it, is where this question comes from — or Muslim, or Jew, or Hindu, or Christian or atheist, is silly, as silly as it was when the electorate was concerned about the fact that John F. Kennedy was a Catholic.  The electorate’s job is to judge the merits of the candidates on what we can perceive of their leadership style, philosophy of government, and their stands on the various important issues that are apt to come before the country during their terms in office.     There is however a sense in which a candidate’s religion is relevant.  If a Christian candidate clearly and obviously believed on religious grounds that Muslims and Jews do not deserve the full protection of the law, then that person’s religion matters and I would under no circumstances support such a candidate regardless of other considerations. If a candidate believed on religious grounds that women should not be educated to the same degree as men, and should be barred from certain professions, then I would say that candidate’s religion matters and I would not support such a candidate under any circumstances.  The point is, I have no interest in a candidate’s particular religion, but I do have some interest in that candidate’s interpretation of her religion, where it takes her, what conclusions she draws about people and life from her religion.  I was quite worried, as a matter of fact, during the Reagan administration when our secretary of the interior opined that we needn’t be worried about environmental laws because Jesus was coming back soon and then it wouldn’t matter.  “Whoa, Nelly,” I said, or words to that effect.  This isn’t just bad eschatology — an arguable point, by the way — this is bad eschatology leading to horrible public policy, a case of religious views interfering with the execution of a public trust.  To that extent, and to that extent only, I am interested in a candidate’s religious views, even though I have no interest in any candidate’s actual religion.

Rev. Bill Ellis

Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims blast Rick Santorum on ‘equality’ comment

By Omar Sacirbey
Religion News Service

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has broad appeal among some evangelical voters because his conservative Catholic views dovetail with their social concerns. RNS photo courtesy Gage Skidmore.

Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus are accusing Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum of bigotry and ignorance after he said that “equality” is solely a Judeo-Christian concept.

“Where do you think the concept of equality comes from?” Santorum said on the campaign trail last Friday (Jan. 20). “It doesn’t come from Islam. It doesn’t come from the East and Eastern religions. It comes from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Not everyone agreed.

“Sen. Santorum’s presidential campaign is now playing to the lowest common denominator of religious bigotry and prejudice by attacking Eastern religions and Islam,” said Aseem Shukla of the Hindu American Foundation. Santorum’s comments, Shukla added, “show a profound ignorance of the teachings of Dharma spiritual traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.”

Santorum’s campaign did not answer repeated requests for comment.

Critics said Santorum — a devout Catholic — not only has his politics wrong, but also his history.

For example, in the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, the god Krishna writes, “I look upon all creatures equally; none are less dear to me and none more dear.”

“Indian religions predate Abraham, Jacob and all that Rick Santorum was talking about,” said Sulekh Jain of Sugar Land, Texas, chairman of the International School for Jain Studies. “All souls are equal in every way. All feel pain and all feel pleasure. This concept is deeply embedded in the whole philosophy of Jainism.”

Sikhs, who also trace their religion to India, were equally upset.

“In Sikhism, all human beings have equal status in the eyes of God. No differentiation in status or ceremonies or rights is made between men and women, rich and poor, foreigner and countryman, high caste or low caste,” said Manbeena Kaur, education director for the New York-based Sikh Coalition.

“Sikhs have had this belief in and practice of equality as a spiritual mandate long before the political revolutions that brought freedom to America and much of the Western world.”

Buddhism expert Toshie Kurihara argues equality was a foundational teaching of the Buddha.

“The Buddha preached against the caste system and advocated equality of all people. From the beginning, Buddhism espoused the concept of equality of all people,” she wrote last year in the Journal of Oriental Studies.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations said it would send Santorum a copy of the Quran, Islam’s holy text.

“The Quran is the best refutation of Mr. Santorum’s inaccurate and offensive remarks,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesman.

The group cited Quran verses and sayings of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad that supported equality. For example, Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said, “All people are equal as the teeth of a comb.”

Muslims say Ron Paul is their kind of Republican

By Omar Sacirbey
Religion News Service

(RNS) Growing up in rural parts of the American West, Nadja Adolf’s libertarian streak developed early on.

“When you come from a countryside that can kill you,” said Adolf, a Muslim convert in her late 50s, “there is a strong emphasis on individual rights, a strong emphasis on self-reliance, and an emphasis on helping each other out.”

That attitude is part of the reason Adolf is drawn to the presidential campaign of Ron Paul, the maverick Republican congressman from Texas who is fighting to stay alive in the Republican primaries.

While some political observers question whether Paul has the staying power and widespread appeal to win the nomination, his campaign has proven unique in one respect: he’s drawing serious support from Muslims.

After abandoning the GOP in droves during the George W. Bush presidency, some Muslims say Paul is the kind of Republican who could draw them back and seriously challenge their loyalty to President Obama.

Adolf, who converted to Islam in May 2001, learned about Paul in 2004 during the congressman’s opposition to the Patriot Act, which he argued allows the government the right to spy on citizens. Paul also opposed the National Defense Authorization Act, which was recently signed into law by Obama and allows the government to indefinitely imprison U.S. citizens suspected, but not proven guilty, of terrorist activity.

“I’m a fairly old-school rural Westerner, and I am a firm believer in individual rights, and I do not understand how a government can even pretend to have the power to detain a citizen or spy on them without warrant,” said Adolf.

Paul, a 76-year-old Baptist, couldn’t agree more.

The renegade Republican has piqued Muslim interest with promises to extract America from foreign wars, cut aid to Israel, and protect civil liberties. There are at least four “Muslims for Ron Paul” Facebook pages, and a scan of Paul’s political donors shows many common Muslim names, like Mohammed, Ali and Ahmed.

Paul’s position on civil liberties resonates with many younger Muslims, including Zahra Siddiqui, an 18-year-old political science major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“These laws are obviously directed at policing Muslims,” Siddiqui said. “Ron Paul knows how to differentiate between Muslims and terrorists, and he would never sacrifice any citizen’s liberties over security.”

Paul’s promise to get the U.S. out of Afghanistan and other foreign conflicts also appeals to Siddiqui, whose family is from Pakistan and who worries that U.S. drone strikes there could escalate into war. Like other Muslim Paul supporters, Siddiqui said the Texas congressman is the only candidate willing to get tough with Israel.

“He has a deep understanding of how detrimental our foreign policy has been in Islamic countries,” Siddiqui said. “Ron Paul will stop the large amount of foreign aid given to Israel and will discontinue rushing to Israel’s defense when it engages in oppressing the Palestinian people.”

Some American Muslims say they’ve been let down by Obama, especially after investing such high hopes after the 2008 election.

“We’ve been burned again and again,” said Rizwan Kadir, a financial consultant in suburban Chicago who brought his daughter to the election booth and voted for Obama four years ago. “I’m very disappointed.”

Kadir is unsure whether he will give Obama a second chance, but he is confident that he could never vote for any of the Republican candidates—except Paul. “If it came down to him and Obama, I don’t know,” Kadir said.

Paul’s Muslim supporters say it’s not all about foreign policy or civil liberties. They also make the case that Islam, founded by a prophet who was a successful merchant, also has a soft spot for free markets.

Following a natural disaster that caused the price of commodities to soar, Prophet Muhammad rejected price controls, said Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, founder of the Minaret of Freedom Institute in Bethesda, Md., whose mission includes exposing Muslims to free-market thought.

“Allah grants plenty or shortage,” Muhammad said, according to Islamic tradition. “He is the sustainer and real price maker.”

It’s the kind of small-government, go-it-alone approach that resonates with Adolf’s frontier mindset.

“I think there are some very strong libertarian values in Islam, but many Muslims don’t see them,” said Adolf. “If it’s not causing harm to the community, then its really nobody’s business.”