[…] Americans oppose secular government and want to see more religion in politics and public life, right?
That’s the line parroted by Religious Right activists for the past 25 years. To hear them tell it, the Supreme Court, working in cahoots with advocates of church-state separation, has imposed a relentless secularism on the country that the people do not support and do not want.
That’s what the Religious Right claims. Here is the reality: Most Americans don’t want to live in a country where political leaders rely on religious texts as the basis of public policy.
A new poll on faith and politics released by Time magazine contains some interesting data. Asked, “Do you think that a president should or should not use his or her personal interpretation of the Bible to make decisions as president?,” 62.2 percent of respondents said no. Less than half that number, 28.7 percent, said yes.
Even most self-identified Republicans oppose the president basing policy on his understanding of the Bible. 46.4 percent said they disagree with that, and 42.6 percent said they agree.
A question that sounds much more innocuous, “Do you think that a president should or should not allow his own personal religious faith to guide him in making decisions as president?,” still failed to garner majority support. 46 percent said no, while 43.5 percent said yes.
Not all the poll results are as clear cut. Americans apparently are not bothered by commonly held religious and moral values guiding government. Asked if they agree with the statement, “We are a religious nation and religious values should serve as a guide to what our political leaders do in office,” 52.2 percent said they agree, and 41.3 percent said they disagree. Previous polls have shown similar results, indicating that Americans tend to view these values as generic, as opposed to “Bible-based” policies, a term often used by the Religious Right. […]
New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote about attending a press gathering with Bush at the White House. Brooks noted that Bush remains upbeat on the war in Iraq. Given the obvious problems there, how does Bush keep his sunny outlook? The president said, “It’s more of a theological perspective. I do believe there is an Almighty, and I believe a gift of that Almighty to all is freedom. And I will tell you that is a principle that no one can convince me that doesn’t exist.”
Perhaps Bush should take some advice from the American public and refrain from basing his policy on his personal theology. Not only will that please the American people, it might help him better understand a myriad of complex issues.
By Rob Boston
I for one am not surprised that “Most Americans don’t want to live in a country where political leaders rely on religious texts as the basis of public policy.”