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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

GALLERY: Prom 2024
GALLERY: Prom 2024
April 7, 2024

Should religion and politics mix?

By Max Strongman
Staff Writer

With the March 1st exit of Pete Buttigeig from the Democratic primaries, we have seen the vanishment of outspoken religious values from the debate stage. Buttigeig is a moderate, your typical mid-western Democrat, and as religious as your neighborhood pastor or priest. He consistently talked of the right’s monopolization of religious belief in their rhetoric and politics. Conservatives have intertwined religious opinion within their political stances, making it harder and harder for voters and the general public to separate the two. Through this, religion has strangled party and people’s values, smothering differences of opinion and even perspective within party lines: ‘If you are a true Christian, how can you willing support somebody who is pro-choice?’

Victoria Carriao is a former MAST Academy student, now enrolled in American University’s class of 2024, planning to study political science and criminal justice. She is an outspoken liberal and considers herself a Catholic. 

“So obviously religion affects many people’s views and sometimes that clouds their political ideals. I find that my political leanings, which tend to be rather liberal, and Catholic belief system don’t always fit with one another perfectly, however, everyone is different. Considering our political atmosphere right now, it is very clear that people’s religious beliefs are playing large roles in their individual politics,” senior Victoria Carriao said. 

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In an interview last August, talk show host Lou Dobbs sat down with a fellow Fox friend, pastor Robert Jeffress. In discussing the upcoming 2020 presidential election, they spoke of the “secular left” and “religious right.” Pastor Jeffress detailed the influence of the religious vote, emphasizing its importance, exclaiming, “2020 is a battle for the soul of America!” The conversation ended characteristically for Fox News, a screaming fit induced by the equation of atheism with a “tide of evil,” which Jeffress insists is promoted by the Democratic party.

Republicans have made it so that religion, primarily Christianity, would be exclusively associated with their party, in turn fabricating this assumption that theological thought is taboo within the Democratic one. Religion has hence become partisan, often a divisive tool aiding the separation of ill-informed voters into respective political parties.

Whether it is on the topic of LGBTQ+ rights, abortion, or even health care, religion has sunk its fangs into near every aspect of political thematics. Having been injected into the political arena, theology is often used by politicians to their advantage, manipulating and swaying voters with ease. This apparent religious glorification, similar to most things in the political realm, is all for show.

In the crucial 2016 presidential election, Florida’s own Senator Marco Rubio released a campaign ad expressing his devotion both to upholding traditionality and to his faith. “And I believe in God and that God has blessed America. I’m Marco Rubio and I approve this message, because it’s time for a president, who will put their left hand on the Bible and their right hand in the air, to keep their promise to uphold the Constitution.” This simple campaign ad, absorbed by a poorly-scripted attempt to appeal to the devout, did nothing more than establish Rubio’s ‘connection’ with God.

Even now, in the midst of this worldwide pandemic, President Trump’s religious ulterior motives have been prominent. As recent as the week leading up to Easter Sunday, Trump, being his ‘motivational,’ hyperbolic self, asserted that he wanted the economy to be “open” for the most religious Sunday of the year. He then went on to say, “You’ll have packed churches all over our country… I think it’ll be a beautiful time.” This is no randomly selected date; it was curated by Trump and his fellow Bible study members in an attempt to appease the religious right, despite the goal’s obvious lack of realism and supporting scientific evidence.

“Honestly I don’t think it’s helpful. Obviously there are some ideals that need to be respected, but the separation of church and state is extremely vital. Pushing people into believing ideals, which may go against their very morals, is detrimental and will not lead to any good,” Cairrao commented when asked about whether religion’s involvement in politics is necessary.

Beyond that, religion’s overall involvement in politics has caused more harm than good. I understand it is a system of ethics for many, a principled guidebook for what is morally correct and what is not; however, I believe that religion is a rather private matter. Yes, people can be vocal about their individual religious stance, it is their First Amendment right; but the United States’ founding fathers were transparent about the exercise of that same right, establishing the notion of the ‘separation of church and state.’ The overall incorporation of religion in politics is divisive and unhelpful, further disconnecting the left and right, only benefiting those who wield this wily weapon. 

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Should religion and politics mix?