Religion and US Politics: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Jasmeet Sidhu writes a piece on The Huffington Post contrasting between Canada and the United States the roles of faith groups with government:

It seems to me, that though this country has its fair share of heated debates around religion (the ground zero mosque controversy comes to find [sic]), there are also seems to be a yearning and a willingness by policy makers, community groups and other stakeholders to publicly engage and bring into the fold Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh groups and tap into their ready-made networks and organizational capacity to solve some of this country’s most dire social issues.

There is certainly a case to be made that the open discourse and relationship in the United States between faith groups and government has the potential to help enact policies, and also engenders the followers of these faiths to the country. 

However, notwithstanding the concept of separation of church and state in this country, the open discourse about religion by politicians also comes with some baggage, as the “Ground Zero” mosque issue demonstrated, as so does the Islamophobia that is fostered by Representative Peter King’s Muslim radicalization hearings. Let us also not forget the open criticisms of President Obama on the accusations that he is Muslim when he was campaigning for office, and other fingers pointed at presidential candidate Mitt Romney for being Mormon.  Also on this side of the coin, we have uneasiness over the explicit and open declarations of divine inspiration by (possible) presidential candidates such as Texas Governor Rick Perry.

In many of these cases, religion is used in one way or the other to pander to a party’s base, and often it centers around Judeo-Christian-oriented biases.  This may or may not be a good thing, but with this open discourse, at least we see more transparency in the role of religion with and within politics in the United States.


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