by Nick France
Hold on to you hats folks. "Super Tuesday" is fast approaching. With the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary winding down, the Democratic candidates are starting to court the South.
That’s right, on March 9, it’ll be Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi’s turn to say who the Deep South prefers to represent the Democratic party for president of these United States of America in November. And you know what that means. They’re breaking out the "Jesus" speak.
I’m sorry, but listening to the Democratic candidates talk about Jesus is very foreign to me. And quite frankly, they don’t sound all that comfortable speaking on the subject.
As you all know, my columns are opinion and this one will be as well. However I will also do some flat-out reporting, just to keep it fair and balanced. I’ll report. You decide. I hope Fox doesn’t sue me for writing that. I’ll stick to the front runners because they are the ones making all the noise anyway.
It has been reported that the Democratic Leadership Council is holding briefings for Democratic candidates– coaching them on how to talk about religion and religious beliefs. To quote Republican pundit, Ann Coulter, "The participants were warned that millions of Americans worship a supreme-being whose name is not Bill Clinton." The Democratic Leadership Council has suggested that the Democrats start referring to "God’s green earth."
Here’s my look at the candidates:
Front-runner Howard Dean told reporters his favorite book in the New Testament was, "The book of Job." This came after he told the press how well he knew the Bible. Within an hour after the interview, Dean admitted he had made a mistake with the Job reference.
Dean isn’t trying to hide the fact that he is using religion as a strategy he said he would mention God more in his campaign, especially in the South, because of "how important it is."
However it does seem as though Dean is now singing a different tune, compared to a few months ago when he said, "I'm tired of coming to the South and fighting elections on guns, God and gays. We're going to fight this election on our turf, which is going to be jobs, education, and health care."
Dean, whose mother was a Catholic and father was Episcopalian, married a Jewish woman. He allowed his two children to select which religion they wanted to be and they chose to become Jewish. Dean was baptized Catholic but grew up Episcopalian. He left the Episcopalian church after a dispute over property regarding a bike path.
Dean, who is the most secular candidate of the bunch, proved to be just that by saying in an interview a few months ago that he does not think, "religion ought to be a part of American policy."
Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark is a Catholic convert, although I’m having a little trouble understanding him as well. He recently told reporters, "I'm spiritual. I'm religious. I'm a strong Christian and I'm a Catholic but I go to a Presbyterian Church. Occasionally I go to the Catholic Church too. I take communion. I haven't transferred my membership or anything. My wife I consider ourselves---she considers herself a Catholic."
I haven’t transferred my membership? Does this guy believe in anything? And he’s a Catholic. When are we going to have a Catholic candidate that is actually a practical Catholic in harmony with the Holy See?
Perhaps Catholic Sen. John Kerry will say something to give us Catholics hope. Is he pro-life? Sorry, none of the Democrats are. How can these politicians call themselves Catholic and not be pro-life? Why aren’t the catholic Bishops in this country holding their feet to the fire?
Well I’m happy to say in November, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the formation of a task force aimed at holding Catholic politicians accountable for their political positions. In fact, Bishop Raymond Burke of La Crosse, Wisconsin, (soon to be Archbishop of St. Louis) made public Jan. 8 a decree ordering priests to bar politicians from receiving Holy Communion until they had renounced their anti-life positions.
Bravo Bishop Burke. I’ll have more about this issue in another article.
An Orthodox Jew, Sen. Joseph Lieberman speaks openly about his faith and refuses to campaign on the Jewish Sabbath. I believe this is the Democratic candidate with the most integrity when it comes to religion. And I have not heard or read anything to the contrary.
Although Rev. Al Sharpton, who was ordained at the age of 9, is not a front-runner— I just had to include these quotes. Sharpton said in a December 2003 Democratic debate, "I can assure you, in my talks with God, he is not a registered member of the right wing of the Republican Party."
He also said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, "[Former New York archbishop] Cardinal O'Connor once asked me how I could support a woman's right to choose abortion. I told him, 'God didn't say you have to go to heaven -- he gave you the option of hell. I think you may go to hell, and I defend your right to get there.'"
Who would vote for this man?
Rep. Dick Gephardt told Bill O’Reilly on the FOXNews O'Reilly Factor appearance, Sept. 29, "The fact that we cannot allow the government, we cannot have the government, supporting religious views or supporting religion. We've got to have a wall of separation." Is it me or have all these candidates forgot that the first amendment advocates freedom of religion and not freedom from religion.
Religion is not a dirty word. Nor is it something to throw around because the pollsters tell you the numbers favor doing so. It seems to me, if you praise the Lord in the South and fail to even mention the Lord while campaigning up North; the appearance of insincerity begins to surface.
I can’t read the hearts and minds of these men, but I can discern who has deeply held beliefs and who’s pandering to those who truly do.
In fairness to the Republican Party, I won’t leave out my understanding of how President Bush fits in to the religion factor. It has been constantly reported and corroborated that the president has proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ all along. Bush believes he was called by God to lead the nation at this time, says Commerce Secretary Don Evans, a close friend who talks with Bush every day.
I want to make it clear: I’m not endorsing any one candidate, nor am I trying to sway anyone from supporting any one candidate either.
Well there you have it, "the religion issue." There are many other issues to ponder, but this is in my opinion a big one. It is especially big this election. In fact I believe this issue has never before been so important than now.
The culture is changing rapidly in this country, and secularism is catching on more and more each day. So think about it. Do your homework on all the candidates and be sure to get out and vote. †