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Maybe I missed your point(s), but the difference that Sharlet points out seems key: Romney, Huckabee, and many other Republican candidates make their religion an integral part of their campaign message, whereas JFK's message was that his campaign was purely political (i.e., secular).

And I can't see how an accomodationist approach doesn't create a de facto state religion, at least to a degree. And the degree to which my religion differs from the state religion---well, I'd have a problem.

BrianJ, the problem with shooing religion entirely off the public square is that it seems inconsistent with the Free Exercise Clause. Restricting the exercise of one's religion to the private sphere (home and church) seems limited and constrained, not free. Not to mention the fact that such an approach would make secularism the de facto state religion in the public square. In a nutshell, that's the theoretical problem with the "wall of separation" position. Of course, there's a question of how far free exercise can go. Obviously not as far as some proponents want.

But as religious pluralism has expanded in the United States -- first more Protestant sects (Quakers, Methodists, Mormons, Adventists, etc.), then with large numbers of Catholics immigrants, finally in the later 20th century with Asian religions and Islam becoming a factor -- the practical problem of how to accommodate such a dizzying diversity of belief and practice becomes a challenge. Again, this places limits on how much accommodation the government can make.

But the question of how much accommodation the government should make, in various areas, and how to do so fairly, is the sort of problem that politics and the courts can actually address fairly well over time (compromise is, after all, a time-tested political device). It seems like a better approach, one more in tune with American tradition, history, and law, than just reading religion out of our public spaces and institutions.

Come on, dude. Part of Obama's complaint re. being asked about his religion stems from the raucous over his middle name and whether or not he's really Muslim, not Christian so I don't think the irony runs as deep as you imply. Certainly he should be asked about his reading of the Sermon on the Mount . . .

Romney joined a choir alright, and it was clearly the wrong one given the success it brought him. Romney never was able to create in people's heads a sense that he really would resign if his personal convictions and the duties of the office were in conflict, and that's why his speech didn't work.

And the differences in their speeches go beyond what vote they were trying to win. They speak to the fundamental fact that some people want to do away with the separation of church and state. Romney implied he would - with respect to the demands of evangelical Christians. That seems, to me, an odd position to take for a Mormon.
David G.

I would like to introduce you to the movie, "Article VI: Faith, Politics, America."

I believe you will find this movie to be very interesting. The documentary Article VI is an intense discussion of the role of faith in politics. In the heat of the current presidential campaign, Article VI makes an unbiased presentation on a volatile topic. It asks voters whether they would have denied America some of the greatest presidents in history because of their religious beliefs. Article VI of the constitution ignites the film’s exploration of the current political environment, religious bigotry, and intolerance in America.

You can see the trailer for the film at www.articleVIthemovie.com

Religion's place at the table is secure. Does that mean we let the religious right reserve the entire table, define the menu, and insist on a specific method of prayer before we get to work? You, of all people, Dave, know what kinds of friends Evangelical Christians are to Mormons. Do we WANT these people controlling our state? Because that is their goal! What happens to freedom of religion when we become a Christian Nation...and Mormons are, by definition of those in power, Not Christian?

hear, hear, Ann! an Evangelical state would be no friend of ours. no, the Constitution was not written from a wholly secular standpoint. in my admittedly ill-educated opinion it is written secularly but heavily informed by faith/religion. it's faith-friendly but nobody can argue that the FFs intended a religious government. I agree that religion can come to the table but let's please save it a seat along the edge, not at the head.

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