I liked this column by E.J. Dionne a lot. "Election 2012's Great Religious Divide" makes some excellent points about how religion and politics intersect here in the United States.
Yes, everyone is part of a religious minority. Especially atheists and agnostics, since the vast majority of Americans are believers in some faith.
In the United States, we have no religious tests for office. It’s true that this constitutional provision does not prevent a voter from casting a ballot on any basis he or she wishes to use. Nonetheless, it’s the right assumption for citizens in a pluralistic democracy.
All Americans ought to empathize with religious minorities because each of us is part of one. If Mormonism can be held against Romney and Huntsman, then everyone else’s tradition — and, for nonbelievers, their lack of religious affiliation — can be held against them, too. We have gone down this road before. Recall the ugly controversy over Catholicism when Al Smith and John F. Kennedy sought the presidency. We shouldn’t want to repeat the experiences of 1928 or 1960.
But this doesn't mean religion should be off-limits when questioning a candidate about his/her qualifications for office.
As Dionne says, candidates can't brag about how important faith is to them, yet resist queries about how that faith would influence their decision-making.
Religious people cannot have it both ways: to assert that their faith really matters to their public engagement, and then to insist, when it’s convenient, that religion is a matter about which no one has a right to ask questions. Voters especially have a right to know how a candidate’s philosophical leanings shape his or her attitudes toward the religious freedom of unbelievers as well as believers.
And here’s the hardest part: We all have to ask ourselves whether what we claim to be hearing as the voice of faith (or of God) may in fact be nothing more than the voice of our ideology or political party. We should also ask whether candidates are merely exploiting religion to rally some part of the electorate to their side. The difficulty of answering both questions — given the human genius for rationalization — might encourage a certain humility that comes hard to most of us, and perhaps, above all, to people who write opinion columns.
Here's a good example of how religion intrudes upon seemingly purely secular issues.
Who knew that the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare") interfered with a religious person's ability to rely on God? Fortunately, a U.S. Appeals Court thought otherwise in upholding the Affordable Care Act's constitutionality.
The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia has upheld a lower court’s ruling in a 2-to-1 vote that the “individual mandate” is constitutional, reports the Associated Press.
The original suit was brought by the American Center for Law and Justice – a legal group created by evangelist Pat Robertson. It claims the individual mandate – which requires everyone to buy health insurance or else face a penalty – violates the religious freedom of those who choose to rely on God to protect them.