"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
Our Constitution clearly states that the brand new country will separate church and state, and that is what the United States has done for the past 220 years relatively well. Separation of church and state is a base for democracy and should remain strict. However, as the 2012 GOP primaries unfold, the more we hear candidates, the more we hear them draw a fine line between church and state.
It's obvious that some candidates, current and withdrawn, are religious, and that is their right, as the United States allows freedom of religion. But when the candidates start not only mixing but blending their whole campaigns with religious and Christian messages, you know something is wrong. And you can't blame them. When you are a candidate in the United States, which is one of the most religious countries, and many people, at least Republicans, go to the ballots with religion as an important factor in choosing a candidate, you know that you should step up and highlight your religion. And the candidates are doing it very well this round.
Which bring us to the Palmetto State -- South Carolina, where 80 percent of the population find religion as an important part of their daily lives, the third rating in the country behind Mississippi and Alabama. The candidates stormed South Carolina, glittered with their ultra-conservative credentials, trying to win the hearts of South Carolinans through religion. The candidates and their advisors all know the drill. They know that if they win the endorsements of religious coalition leaders, they will have a boost in the primary. Moreover, they know that if you highlight your faith in almost every ad and speech, people will listen up and their eyes will start shining with emotion.
To that end, Rick Santorum, armed with hundreds of controversial and socially conservative quotes, seven children and a loving faithful wife, is telling people that because of his 'sacred' dialogue with God every day, he's the man for the job. Good for you Rick, but what dialogue would be better at 3 a.m. when the U.S. is under attack? With God, or with a General? Rick Santorum is using his ultra-social, God-approved views to win over votes, and endorsements, which is going quite well for the former Senator. The problem with him is that as he might be comfortable with these views in South Carolina -- these views are attached to him -- but in other more secular states, these views won't work so well with the voters. At least he is able to stick to his views, as opposed to Mitt Romney, 2012's version.
Mitt Romney is not settled on religion, and never really stuck to a social-religious-conservative view. As a candidate for governor of Massachusetts, he says one thing. As a candidate for President of the United States, he says a totally different thing. His flip-flopping is known, and even the Obama reelection campaign has released an ad concerning it. As Romney's GOP contenders try to rip on his flip-flopping, especially in South Carolina regarding abortions and other social issues, Romney still is ahead in the polls and enjoys the status of the frontrunner. Romney is a great politician in the sense of feeling comfortable and local wherever he is. Unlike Santorum, who is static, Romney is one thing here, and another the day after in a different state. Maybe this will have an effect on the outcome of the primary, but if not, he will enjoy a ticket to ride smoothly for the nomination.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and adulterer is trying to sell himself as a born-again Catholic, who rediscovered his religion after sinning. He is quite confident in South Carolina, and is, at every moment, trying to sting Romney for flip-flopping over issues that will not make the economy better, or strengthen national security. It's all about abortions, gay marriage and faith. The people of South Carolina shouldn't be bought so easily with Gingrich's claims of repurification. But as long as he believes he's pure, he'll use that to win every vote he can in the primary.
This week, Jon Huntsman quit the race. He is right about the nasty environment of the race. But it shouldn't have been a surprise to him. He is moderate in his views and believes in evolution, which is absurd in terms of his former opponents. He prefers science, but also touted his conservative platform. Jon Huntsman is what the GOP needed this year. The GOP needed a moderate republican that can receive votes from disappointed 2008 Obama supporters. The GOP leadership needed to help him win the nomination, if they wanted to recapture the White House, but nice moderate guys don't always win. Especially in GOP primaries. But if Romney wins, as Huntsman hopes, I'm sure Huntsman would feel comfortable heading the State Department.
History shows us that GOP primaries were never friendly to moderates, as we saw in Alaska with Joe Miller vs. Lisa Murkowski, and in Delaware with Mike Castle vs. Christine O'Donnell, and more. Republican primary voters are extremely conservative, and will elect a very conservative nominee, but in the general election, when real issues that effect the economy and national security matter, moderates will usually win.
I did not write this to criticize God and religion in any way. A man may live in any belief he wants to, if any. But I do criticize the dangerous mix between church and state. I watch this election from the sidelines, and as I see that people are unemployed, small businesses have no money, and that terror and violence lurks as we saw this past year, we need a president who does not focus on matters of what people do in their bedrooms, but for the well-being of the American people and their prosperity. These candidates of the GOP are using church to get state, and at these dire times, when a citizen hears a candidate talk about what a woman should do with her body because of God's will -- as opposed to how he/she can get a job -- something is obviously wrong.