Faith and Politics: Must your candidate share your faith?

https://readthespirit.com/ourvalues/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2013/03/wpid-0316_Newt_Gingrich_by_Gage_Skidmore_4.jpgNewt Gingrich, photo by Gage Skidmore, released via Wikimedia Commons.How important is it for your candidate to share your religious beliefs?

Faith and politics in American revolve around a paradox: On the one hand, most Americans insist that political leaders be religious, as we’ve discussed before. On the other hand, most Americans support the constitutional principle of church-state separation. In other words, we want our leaders to be people of faith but don’t want them to let their religion (or their religious leaders) influence their decisions.

But religion certainly influences how we vote, as we’ve discussed since Monday. The religious affiliation of the voters in all the Republican primaries so far, including the Mississippi and Alabama contests this week, influenced who they chose at the ballot box. All along, white evangelicals have favored Santorum and Gingrich over Romney.

We can see even sharper differences if we look at how much it mattered to southern voters if a candidate shared their religious beliefs. Forty-one percent of Alabama voters who said it mattered somewhat or a great deal voted for Santorum, compared to 31% for Gingrich, and 23% for Romney, according the same CNN exit polls we cited yesterday. The differences were much more muted in Mississippi.

Does it matter if a candidate shares your faith?

Do you think the link between faith and politics is stronger now?

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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue.

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