Ten Questions That May Make Candidates Squirm
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 01:47:03 PM EST
Where do our candidates stand on basic matters of separation of church and state and the constellation of values and issues that intersect this foundational doctrine of our culture and our constitution?  Last year, First Freedom First, a joint project of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, published ten well-crafted questions to help us find out. And we posted them at the time here at Talk to Action. But now that we are deep into the 2008 election season, it seems like a good time to remind ourselves of this useful resource.
FFF suggest using them at
Town Hall meetings or other locations where candidates for office will be gathering. You can copy and paste them into an email message to the candidates. Or, use these as suggestions to help formulate your own questions to candidates, to find out their views on safeguarding separation of church and state and protecting religious liberty.

These are things that can sometimes make candidates squirm, and they are sometimes coached not to talk about them. But avoidance does not mean that people do now want to know the answers or that there are not important philosophical and public policy matters that directly relate. Our candidatees should not only be prepared to answer such questions, but they can be reasonably assured that we would like to hear good answers.

1) Leaders on the religious right often say that America is a "Christian Nation." Do you agree with this statement?

  1. Do you think Houses of Worship should be allowed to endorse political candidates and retain their tax exempt status?

  2. Do you think public schools should sponsor school prayer or, as a parent, should this choice be left to me?

  3. Would you support a law that mandates teaching creationism in my child's public school science classes?

  4. Do you think my pharmacist should be allowed to deny me doctor-prescribed medications based on his or her religious beliefs?

  5. Will you respect the rights of those in our diverse communities of faith who deem same-gender marriage to be consistent with their religious creed?

  6. Should "faith-based" charities that receive public funds be allowed to discriminate against employees or applicants based on religious beliefs?

  7. Do you think one's right to disbelieve in God is protected by the same laws that protect someone else's right to believe?

  8. Do you think everyone's religious freedom needs to be protected by what Thomas Jefferson called "a wall of separation" between church and state?

  9. What should guide our policies on public health and medical research: science or religion?



Display:
They are strikingly absent from our political discourse at all levels.

In order to counter the religious right -- its creeping influence in the Democratic Party in particular, such questions need to be central, not periferal, to our political culture.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Feb 27, 2008 at 05:47:10 PM EST



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