My Take: The religious roots of our political gridlock
December 5th, 2012
08:04 AM ET

My Take: The religious roots of our political gridlock

Editor's Note: Mark Osler is a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

By Mark Osler, Special to CNN

The divide between Democrats and Republicans that has frozen the mechanisms of American politics has many causes, but one of them is tangled up in the faith differences of our legislators. Faith, for many lawmakers on both sides, is the source of their outlook and principles, and faith has in part created the conditions for the current impasse about the fiscal cliff.

For many (though certainly not all) Republicans, the root of knowledge is a bedrock certainty about the inerrancy of a literal reading of the Bible. This provides them with clear, absolute answers - that gay marriage is wrong, that modern science is suspect, and that much of what we see on earth is a struggle between good and evil.

When the 2012 Republican Party platform stated that we should “reaffirm that our rights come from God,” that reflected a sincere and genuine sense of bright-line natural law.

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That kind of certainty in faith, which so often draws good/evil lines on theological issues, very naturally supports a similar outlook on political issues that aren’t directly rooted in the Bible. Faith, after all, if it really is faith, structures the way we view and interact with the world.

It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that some American conservatives tend both to see their opponents as evil and to catastrophize potential political losses.

If the world is locked in a battle between good and evil, and our side is good, that leaves only one possibility for our opponents.

Bending to that other side becomes unthinkable. A loss or even a compromise is something terrible - it is a victory for evil. When Rush Limbaugh tells his audience that Democrats “want to ruin America,” he knows how a significant part of his audience will receive that message, through the lens of a faith that offers certainty and bright lines.

Some Democrats, too, suffer from political disabilities that are formed by faith. Few of them have the absolutist outlook describe above, but their own New Testament-focused view of the Bible leads in a different problematic direction.

There, we see a Jesus who is anything but a capitalist. Instead, he urges others to give away all that they have to the poor, and often disparages the wealthy.

To the rich young ruler who has followed all the commandments, Jesus instructs that he must also sell everything he has and give the money to the poor, without regard to the people he will have to fire and the resulting poverty of his own family.

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Many Democrats have taken this broad lesson of concern for the poor to heart, as we all do with core messages of faith. That quiet wind is always there.

This gets us to gridlock because it puts Democrats in the position of class warriors - they favor the poor and disfavor the rich.

This is most clear in framing tax policy, which is at the heart of the gridlock we have seen around how to avoid the fiscal cliff. At times, the Democrats' certainty on these issues is the equal of what we see in Republicans.

So we end up in a deadlock. Now, we hear, that gridlock may be breaking up a bit.

On one side, the certainty is less certain as the “no increase in taxes” pledge is abandoned by some. On the other, there is an openness to cutting government spending.

Some will say this is simply political expediency, but I am more hopeful: This opening may be tinged with a blessed uncertainty, the faint hint that the complexity of politics may be as messy and glorious and private as the complexity of our faiths.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Osler.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (1,027 Responses)
  1. MaRK

    Jesus didn't not advocate giving other peoples' money to the poor. Oly one's own. He did not advocate theft. This guy's knowledge of religion is extremely shallow.

    December 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Observer


      – Matthew 7:12 “Treat others as you want them to treat you. THIS IS WHAT THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS ARE ALL ABOUT.”

      December 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Lou

      If there are supposedly so many Christians here in America, and they're all giving until it hurts as they claim, why are there still so many poor people in need of as sistance? Thing is, very little of what you Christians give to "charity" actually goes to helping the poor. Once the ministers skim off their share, donations are made to the proper candidates, and efforts are made to draw in new members there isn't much left to, you know, "help" those who need it. They claim to be charities, but they do very little actual charitable work compared to secular charities without a political agenda.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Taxation is NOT theft. The laws pass the legislative process and the funds go to all kinds of useful stuff like education, research, regulation, police, military, government itself, disaster relief, etc. There is no person alive in this country who has not benefited from government spending – in fact the internet was originally funded via taxes.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • kman02

      He didn't postulate the rich taking the poor's money, either. The article was more balanced than your mind can comprehend.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Sue

      So, if you would rather starve your kids than accept any form of charity then you would just assume that everyone should feel this way and you wouldn't give a dime to charity as a result? Hmmm, is this WWJD?

      December 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Saraswati

      You have to keep in mind that in those days there wasn't much money to transfer. Few had even enough wealth to feed one extra mouth, let alone provide welfare for others. Today, even though most won't admit. it, even the average middle class american has enough money to support many in a lifestyle that would have been luxury in Jesus' day.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Sue

      13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax[b] to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

      But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

      “Caesar’s,” they replied.

      17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

      And they were amazed at him.

      Mark 12:13-17

      December 5, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Sue

      More than 2/3 of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, if that's what you mean?


      December 5, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Sue, Most of those americans would have savings if they lived by the same standard of living acceptable in the 1950s, let alone that acceptable in Jesus' era. I believe in raising taxes to help the poor and would happily pay more myself, but not to support a family working to save the 2 car garage house with a room for each of their 4 kids when they should have been living in an apartment with only 2 kids in the first place. I'm well off and have no garage (living in snow) and drive a 1999 model car. When I see 30 year olds making less and living higher than I do I have little sympathy when their mortgages go bad on them.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Holden

      You know, the fact that you don't believe something because it can't be proved to your satisfaction, doesn't mean it isn't true, God exists apart from what we believe – He doesn't need us
      to confirm it. I do sometimes wonder why nonbelievers spend so much time and energy denying God is real. I suspect that somewhere in their deepest soul, they aren't sure and yell to convince themselves. If I am wrong in believing He exsits and loves me – and you whether you believe it or not -then I am just foolish. BUT, if you are wrong then the price you will pay is to horrible to think of.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Holden, There is no proof of god. Gods have been used to "explain" the unknown. As we know more we don't need a god to "explain" clouds, thunder, lightning, earthquakes, etc. You don't believe in Zeus or Odin – how you feel about them is how atheists feel about your god; in fact the Greek and Norse models (multiple gods with conflicting agendas) is a closer match to the apparent whims of luck that hold sway over our lives.

      December 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  2. Steven Prothero is the AntiChrist!!!!!!!!!!!


    December 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  3. Tony

    Still boggles my mind that in the 21st century, we're still arguing about mythology in politics. Keep your conversations with god between you and god.


    December 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Sue

      Yeah, imagine if people started talking about astrological beliefs in politics the same way that they talk about religious ones? Then you'd hear the Christians talk against taking things on "faith", I'd bet!

      December 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  4. Observer

    The Bible states that Sodom was destroyed because the people there were greedy and didn't share.

    Was Sodom destroyed because they were the original Republicans?

    December 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  5. Lar5

    One more strike against the GOP for the democrats to use in the next election. Once again the Republican are on the wrong side of humanity.

    December 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • MaRK

      Jesus didn't not advocate giving other peoples' money to the poor. Oly one's own. He did not advocate theft. This guy's knowledge of religion is extremely shallow.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Observer


      Did Jesus ever advocate not paying taxes levied by the government?

      December 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Sue

      Luke 12:33. "Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys."

      Luke 3:11. And [John the Baptist] would answer and say to them, "Let the man with two tunics share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise."

      Mt. 5:42. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

      Now, if all the Christians of this land did this then would there be any need to tax them for the funds to help the poor?

      December 5, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  6. Art Gould

    I agree with almost all of what Mr. Osler says. However, he is mistaken to describe the Democratic side as class warriors, as if the Republican party and its adherents were not. The latter have been practicing class warfare on behalf of the wealthiest elements of our society for some time. But when the Democrats point this out, or call for a more fair treatment of the less advantaged among us, Republicans accuse of practicing class warfare, as if they themselves were not primarily responsible. Mr. Osler has dived full force into this pitfall.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  7. Sam Yaza

    loyalist/Christians vs patriots/deist&pagan, that's all you have to say, we should have killed those Assholes and sent a message through history

    December 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      you know the one in America loyalty yo your government is not Patriotism

      December 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Lou

      Most of the Loyalists moved to Canada, and they're anything but Republicans.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  8. sjajr

    If religion gets to political, it should loose its tax exempt status.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Observer


      December 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Matt

      What do you mean If it gets too political?? It shouldnt have tax exemption in the bloody first place!!

      December 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Tony

      So a mythology temple and its guests and administrators get to use the roads, police, security, clean air/water/products, communications, etc. that we fund and they don't get to pay taxes?

      My company pays taxes and I'm actually contributing to the economy....something wrong here....

      December 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  9. gman tello

    great articel everyone needs to do more ofr our troops


    December 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  10. Susie

    It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with math...we are spending more money than we can afford to. Get it now.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Saraswati

      But everyone thinks that. But it's ideology that guides your approach to curing the problem.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • db

      Susie, America has been running on a deficit my entire life and I'm 43. It's nothing new. We all "get it".

      December 5, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Lou

      Yes, but the questions are whether we need such an expensive military, can we cut social programs and education, and are the rich paying their fair share of taxes?

      December 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  11. James Young

    Superficial drivel....The cultural and political divides throughout the country are much more nuanced and complex than this description of two variations of christianity accounts for.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Saraswati

      True, but I don't think this was never meant to be the whole truth. Even a 2000 page dissertation will only be a summary, but it's through a series of mostly valid summaries that we people come to understand the world.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  12. Steve

    I think that Christians on the right in this country have been used and pandered to by Republicans whose primary directive is to put the interests of big business and the wealthiest elite above all else.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • conservative

      way to follow the talking points fo the Democratic party brain washing effort

      December 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Robin Jones

      Actually, it's right-wing Christians who are using the Republican Party to further their fundamentalist cause, not the other way around.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • sjajr

      Mr Conservative. And your not brained washed by faux news? Big business and the like?

      December 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Lefty Coaster

      Absolutely agree. They saw a block of voters they could capture with a few promises that cost the GOP nothing. If you think their continued pandering to Christian fundamentalists is anything less, examine how this is playing out in policy. They fire up the abortion and anti-gay talk in election cycles and pretty much ignore it the rest of the time. Pathetic, but you can't blame the GOP – they've latched onto a demographic that is willing to support them regardless of delivering on these promises.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  13. dave

    Many well intentioned Democrats are for big government to provide equity and kindness to all. Again, I view this as well intentioned and many are motivated by kindness. The difference however is their premise if built upon "force". Force others to help others. That is not a "Christian" position in my humble opinion....that is the methodology of the adversary. Most conservatives "give" more freely to those in need and to charities of their own free will and choice. That is the proper role of government is to provide for the common defense and encourage voluntary acts of charity to assist those struggling. Likewise, self sufficiency should be the goal of government, not dependency. It seems most government policy creates the latter, not the former. Democrats, please do NOT STEAL my money. I currently freely give 12% of my gross income to charity. Let me continue voluntarily to help and assist others! Do not force me and take away my agency and my money

    December 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Qman

      Thank you Dan for all that you contribute.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Qman

      Dave* rather

      December 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • conservative

      I like your word agency. people should choose to do good, not be made to

      December 5, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Athy

      But many choose not to. Should they be allowed to freely shift the burden to those that do?

      December 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Ralph


      What you and other Republican idiots don't understand....(probably because you dropped out of high school) is that our government is the size it needs to be to handle all of the demands of our people.....like roads, highways, schools, environmental protection, military, flood control, airport management, the list goes on and on...and gets bigger as society gets more modern with new needs and requirements. But Idiots wouldn't know this.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Observer


      "Democrats, please do NOT STEAL my money."

      Yep. They "steal" your money to give you safety. They "steal" your money to have a military, police, firemen, and emergency people to save your life. They "steal" your money to build highways and bridges. They "steal" your money to make sure the food you eat and what you drink is safe. They "steal" your money to give you parks to play in and irreplaceable scenery.

      GROW UP.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Saraswati

      But it's your ideology that makes you think its your money that people are 'STEALING'. I've earned plenty of money, but I believe I've been fortunate to do so by a combination of luck (in having genes and upbringing that suited me to a well paying career) and it the was our society stacks the deck and let's me earn more at the expense of low paid cleaning staff and Walmart worker's. If we instead shift incomes by raising the minimum wage is that money not "theirs"? Is the money of minimum wage workers not theirs now?

      December 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • conservative

      Ralph and Observer,
      I recognize that there are essential services...although many are local taxes that I am also already paying, not federal income taxes. Who knows what I havce paid in sales tax locally. who knows how many thousands in gas taxes. I have paid over 12K in property taxes just last month for a handful of properties and 25K in State taxes which clearly covers more than my share of my parks, police, emergency, part of my roads etc. As far as the 152,184 in federal tax year to date, I resent having to pay THAT much for my one good lucky year! And what of the 7,879.76 in medicare tax and the 4,624.20 in Social Security tax?

      December 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Actually

      " As far as the 152,184 in federal tax year to date, "

      I pay about 32% in taxes on my income what percent of that was of your income?

      December 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Observer


      There's no problem if you'd rather not put up with all the unfair taxes you have to pay on your "handful of properties" and give them away so you could live the luxurious life of those on welfare.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      conservative. Taxes also provide schools, roads, technological and scientific research, and more, all of which you benefited from to allow you to do so well financially; why shouldn't you contribute in proportion to your fortune? Isn't there a parable from Jesus in the bible about giving relative to wealth?

      December 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  14. a disgrace

    myself and 100% of america's upper and middle class or those who did not vote for obama are against any deal that does not include removing him from office...

    December 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Actually

      You're an idiot and not well informed.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Susan

      You couldn't be more wrong, not everyone puts political party above the best interests of their nation.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Ralph

      We should remove you from America. Why not go to Cost Rica or Iran or North Korea.....I am sure the wealthy pay no taxes in those countries. If the rich don't want to pay their fair share of taxes which support our society.....remove them from our society.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Athy

      And it's "I," not" myself."

      December 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • O

      Your "theory" relies on a false premise – that 100% of middle and upper class americans voted against the President. This is so far from the truth its stretches any credulity. Also, there are no "christian" means by which this President could be removed. Your terribly insensitive and out of touch candidate's campaign lost you and your fellow rightys the election. But you know what else lost you the election- overwhelming support for the President and his policies that benefit the country as a whole. So be a good troll and deal with it. Don't be so simple if you can help it.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Lefty Coaster

      You don't speak for me, the aptly-named "a disgrace", and I'm pretty sure we're in roughly the same income bracket.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Since that's obviously not undemocratic and never going to happen, I guess we will know who to blame if this turns into an economic disaster.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  15. weedouthate

    The ambiguity here comes from the definition of 'faith'... I define this word as the heavenly sensation one feels in the heart by harmonizing with God and Nature. The more we root out our inner weeds of egoism, arrogency, bullying, and envy, the greater connection we feel for each other. The sensation of FAITH is a reward for acting in harmony with nature in thought and action. If more people would focus on rooting out their own inperfections, rather than of others (or in worse cases, weeding out minorities, etc. from society), the better we would be...The gridlock between democrats and republicans exist at the level of reason, through which some manipulte religion for political gains. If and when we could all learn to tap our roots down back to the source, according to our preferred rituals, this is when and where all of our differences would fizzle away. Makes you want to rush outside to root out some symbolic weeds of hatred!

    December 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  16. K Frank

    In the article, Dr. Osler, you have confused Jesus' purpose in challenging the rich man to sell all and give all. It wasn't for the sake of the poor but for the rich man's spiritual inheritance, ie to put Christ first and thereby inherit the kingdom of God. Christ's principal message here was not to advocate for the poor. Also in the book of Mark, Christ said, "you will always have the poor", but you will have my physical presence just a short time longer, so attend to me. He taught compassionate giving. Did he advocate seizing from the wealthy and giving it to the poor? Is that how compassion works? Further, He called us to know and follow God's law. Consistent in both the Old and New Testament of the Bible are moral absolutes. Was God wrong? Some issues are not as clearly identified for which the believer in Christ should follow Christ's general example for behavior always seeking to put Christ first, others second and me third. Where did our country jump the track?

    December 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  17. RichardSRussell

    Faith — belief in something despite the utter absence of any evidence for it, and frequently in the face of considerable evidence to the contrary — is the world's worst method of making decisions, which is why it's about the ONLY method that religion speaks highly of. It's the only way they can possibly justify their incredibly far-fetched conclusions.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • weedouthate

      Religion talks about faith as an insentive conducting one's self in a positive fashion while one is living to earn a slot in heaven. When one dwelves to the inner interpretation, faith is a heavenly sensation one feels in the heart, that one earns for doing 'heavenly' things while one is living. This cannot be measured, but spiritually inclined be feel it, by seeking to remove its limitations on a daily basis: arrogence, envy, bullying, or even worse.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • adh1729

      RichardSRussell: "Faith — belief in something despite the utter absence of any evidence for it, and frequently in the face of considerable evidence to the contrary": you make faith to be lunacy by definition, and, having made your definition, you then call it lunacy. That is circular reasoning at best, and trite at worst. Allow me to have my way with definitions in like manner, and define unbelief to be killing and eating young children, and define atheism to be the forcible removal of money from banks.

      Your definition of faith is pathetically lacking. You act as if humans know everything about everything. They don't, and at the current rate they never will. Faith begins when evidence ends. Evidence may point in a direction, but may not be conclusive, and that is where faith takes over. Of course you would think God to be a tyrant in the sky, based on your ridiculous definition of faith. You imagine yourself to be more reasonable than any God that could exist. Your picture of God is, an unreasonable jerk. I don't know why it has to be that way necessarily.

      You and your type seem to believe that science has disproven God. I ask, have you ever set foot in a science lab? I worked in several, for years. What scientific instrument was used to disprove God, and how? What was the scientific experiment? There are famous scientific experiments - Michelson/Morley, Millikan oil drop, etc. Surely the great There-Is-No-God experiment should be famous enough to be in all the books and journals. Maybe you can bring me the copy of the materials and methods section so I can repeat it myself and get the same result.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      adh. Believers are the ones making extraordinary claims so they need to provide the evidence. It is impossible to prove that something does not exist. Believers need to show what they base their claims on. That has been requested 1000's of times on this board and has yet to be provided.

      Not knowing everything about everything is not evidence of a god.

      God is thought to be a tyrant in the sky, based upon the text of the bible: floods, pillars of salt, Tower of Babel, sacrifice your children, sentences of stoning to death for minor transgressions, etc. etc.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Tony

      1. You failed to see the point. He was talking about willful ignorance of some. That despite great evidence, people still ignore science and call that willful ignorance "faith" to support religious fables.
      2. Nobody has said that science disproves the existence of god or gods or goddesses. However, science, and reason, has disproved some far fetch religious fables. Logic has disproved some religious methods, conclusions, and purpose. When it comes for the good (not the ugly) that christianity claim to have established or championed, they are mostly stolen from more ancient religions or philosophies. Most people are ignorant enough to know those facts.
      3. You work at a lab, I hope you also know complex math. There is no such a think as absolute proof, only proof by approximation. Not going to get into details, but mathematicians and physicists know what I'm talking about.

      Now is there a god? We will never know and science will never prove either way. But does it matter? and how do know know that the god or goddesses, or aliens or machines, or super humans are, as your fable concludes, benign, alone, unique, or even so fully preoccupied about your infinitesimal life (approximately 80 years), which will define the rest of your eternal life? Good try to sound smart. Good luck in your lab work.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  18. Tom Hulst

    Perceptive and prescient. Did you mention Matthew 25 in which the Lord says "whatever you did for one of the least of these, brothers, you did for me." Also, these great "moral" and religious questions of the budget really are not great ethical or ideological issues–unless the Congress fails to act! As Kidder writes these budget issues are matters of right v. right, not right v. wrong.
    Today, moreover we need clear-minded and courageous leaders on both sides of the aisle–"economic citizens"–true public spirited stewards who will rise to the occasion during our nation's time of need. Rather than running to the respective corners to attack the other guy and the other party–on either taxing or spending– in order to aggravate and elevate the public vitriol. We need elected officials who will promote the long-term public interest, fairness, and justice in trying to resolve the difficult financial issues that beset our country. The video referenced below may address some of the public spiritual and religious angst as we move closer to December 31–and the so-called fiscal cliff.

    The link to YouTube is shown below.


    December 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • weedouthate

      One does not need to be Christian to weed out hate and sow the seeds of peace, love and respect.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  19. Steve

    I'm both a Democrat and a Christian. "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me." The Republican Party is more akin to a judgmental Ebeneezer Scrooge.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  20. Pluto Saturnson

    The only thing you can say about religion in politics is that it has been a major source divisiveness and intolerance, and it has attempted to suppress a number of American liberties. It constantly attempts to get people to abandon American values and replace them with religious ideology.

    Religion is doing no good in politics. It is a source of fighting, it is a source of oppression.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • { ! }

      Read a history of the advance of the Scotch-Irish into the American interior. These people moved so fast into the Appalachians that they outran the Presbyterian Church. Until a church was established, life was governed by violence, secksual license, greed, hunger resulting from alchohol abuse, and general societal instability. So, yes. Religion has a restraining effect on society.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • WhatTheHell

      Is something wrong with you? America values were based on religious freedom.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Whatever!

      I agree ! I often wonder, how that eye of a needle going for the rich....

      December 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Greg

      "The only thing you can say about religion in politics is that it has been a major source divisiveness and intolerance, and it has attempted to suppress a number of American liberties. It constantly attempts to get people to abandon American values and replace them with religious ideology."

      What you fail to realize is many of the freedoms and fundamental "human rights" we love as Americans come from a Biblical worldview, that we are all created in the image of God, and as such have an inherent worth. Without this assumption, there is no right or wrong, no good or bad - only public opinion.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • G Dub

      No we're not, haven't you ever heard of evolution? Religulous folks try and make us all believe we came from this fairytale that has no scientific backing whatsoever... YOU CAN'T PROVE WE CAME FROM GOD, CAN YOU?

      December 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • ME II

      @{ ! },
      Correlation is not causation.
      Frontier environments are generally violent and "uncivilized", I'd speculate that it has more to do with the type of people willing to take the risk on the frontier, rather than a lack of churches.

      Or perhaps it was simply a lack of police?!?!

      December 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @{!}, As in most such environments, the civilizing factors were established communities ( where neighbors knew neighbors) and a decrease in the number of single males. I don't discount that the churches helped build communities,but in today's society many secular insti'tutions and structures play that role.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.