Sep 062004
 
Authors: J.M.M. Smyth

John Loveman will keep his faith in mind when it comes time to enter the polls in November.

“My own faith dictates my moral conscience, and shapes my outlook on life in general,” said Loveman, a junior finance major. “To separate my personal faith from my public responsibility to vote wouldn’t be taking those beliefs very seriously or putting them into any sort of concrete action.”

Amanda McKinley, a junior health and exercise science major, echoes Loveman’s thinking.

“With there being so many political perspectives in the U.S., it is nice to know when someone is guided by a core belief like religion,” McKinley said. “Even though the president’s job is to listen to what people want, I think it’s great that there is something else to guide them besides what interest group happens to have the most influence, gets the most attention.”

A survey conducted by The Pew Research Center, http://people-press.org, in August found that nearly three out of every four registered voters believe in the importance of a president holding strong religious beliefs.

The same survey showed a large disparity between the perception of how much major presidential candidates would rely on their personal religious beliefs in decision-making. Twenty-six percent of those polled believe that President George W. Bush would involve his faith “a great deal,” 38 percent “a fair amount,” and 28 percent “not very much.” However, presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry was polled at 10 percent, 33 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

S.K. Davis, an associate professor in the political science department at CSU, believes religion influences political outcomes.

“Religion affects politics in different ways. At the moment, the Christian right is most active in trying to influence its members. They print pamphlets, distribute them widely and urge their members to vote. Over the years, they have become a force to recon with,” Davis said.

According to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll taken earlier this year from more than 7,000 respondents, people who attend church on a semi-weekly basis are more than three times more likely to be conservative than liberal. It also found that people are more than four times more likely to be conservative if they attend a weekly service. In a similar University of Akron poll, people with no religious affiliation responded as being more than twice as likely to vote for Kerry than for Bush.

Religion may become increasingly important because of key issues like the Federal Marriage Amendment, government funding for fetal stem cell research and debate over Catholic politicians being allowed to accept communion.

“I don’t like the fact that some Republicans try to incorporate religion into the government,” said junior accounting major Bruce Redmond. “The faith of the candidate might affect my vote, but there are a lot of issues that I consider more important.”

Adam Ybarra is a volunteer for the national Catholic organization Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS, and the current CSU chapter director.

“Abraham Lincoln said that the philosophy of classrooms today becomes the philosophy of government tomorrow,” Ybarra said. “You need some kind of moral compass to form your decisions, and while religion need not be the only thing for this, a religion based on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the dignity of every human person serves the purpose quite well.”

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