Kerry Speaking on His Religious Views

John Kerry spoke about his religious beliefs in California. The Washington Post reports “Kerry is the third high-profile Democrat to give a reflective, deeply personal speech on religion and politics in recent weeks, following Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Robert P. Casey Jr., the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.” It is a shame Kerry had to pick this topic.

Let me be clear that it is not John Kerry I’m criticizing over this but the American public. I understand why Democrats feel they must give such speeches, and cannot blame politicians for doing what must be done (within reason) to be elected. The religious views of John Kerry, or any other public official, should not matter.

Kerry’s religious views are extremely different from mine, but that never mattered to me. All I care about is that Kerry has no intention of imposing his religious views upon others. I don’t care if he is for or against abortion personally as long as he continues to oppose restrictions on abortion rights. As far as I’m concerned, Kerry’s religious views are irrelevant as to how I vote.

We are in an era where the religious right is attempting to restrict teaching of science in the schools, attempting to repeal a woman’s right to control her own body, targeting homosexuals for discrimination to bring in a few more votes, and denying the very principle of separation of church and state which this country was founded on. I could be certain that John Kerry, as opposed to George Bush, would never say God told him to go to war or that God chose him to be President.

In a perfect world nobody would care about the politician’s religious beliefs because they could feel confident they would not use the power of government to impose their views upon others. Rather than having to give a speech like this, Kerry and others could talk about what they planned to do about issues which are the proper focus of government policy rather than religion. Unfortunately we live in a highly imperfect society, and most likely many more Democrats will feel they most give similar speeches on their religious beliefs.

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12 Comments

  1. 1
    GinnyinWI says:

    Ron, I completely agree. It’s too bad that people use religion to further divide people. I think religion can matter as a starting point for an individual, perhaps–but it does not guarantee how that person will act on those beliefs. We should look at their policies and plans for governing instead.

  2. 2
    Pamela says:

    Kerry was invited to give the speech and it was billed as a “political” speech.

    He did not “have” to give it, he wanted to. Among the overall theme was not using religion to divide.

    Considering he was delivering the speech at a very, very conservative college, it was well received.

    There are more people of faith in this country than not. I am not a religious person at all, but I thoroughly got his speech, appreciated his speech and his candor.

    The fact is people in this country vote on “values” and the other fact is there more Dems that belong to the evangelical churches that Bush won the votes from.

    We do live in a highly imperfect society, where snap judgment often replaces understanding.

    The speech is here incase your readers are interested – http://blog.thedemocraticdaily.com/?p=4212

  3. 3
    kj says:

    Yes, John Kerry had to give that speech.

    In this climate, it was imperative he give voters (and the citizens of the world) an insight into his religion and his religious beliefs. It’s where we are, all across the globe. There’s no getting around the subject. What is religion, what does it teach, who practices what teachings in actually fact, and who distorts the most basic of religious messages to further their own aims.

    As someone who grew up Roman Catholic a decade behind him, I personally enjoyed reading his commentary on how the church has changed. I have numerous family members who are active Catholics and yet subscribed to the Bush Doctrine of what being “Christian” meant. The call to return to the values that Catholics were taught decades ago is something I was very happy to read. I think Mel sorta hit the wall with the rightward turn of Catholism. (Rightward? I mean backward, back past Vatican II.)

    I was also happy to read Kerry describe his spiritual journey, which included the time he “wandered in the wilderness.” Coming back from a war, and talking about what that war did and meant to him inside, and how that war did or didn’t sqare with what he was taught as a child in the church, is certainly an issue with today’s returning vets. There’s always been a dichotomy between what we teach our children, and then what we ask them to do for us. We teach peace, then we ask them to go to kill in the name of their flag and country.

    I also especially enjoyed Kerry’s discussion on the nature of discipleship. I couldn’t help but hope that Kerry’s many supporters took those words to heart in their quest to serve his campaign.

  4. 4
    kj says:

    typos! arg! the scourge of the fast typist with no editing capabilities! LOL

  5. 5
    Pamela says:

    Oops typo for me too:

    “Kerry was invited to give the speech and it was billed as a “political” speech.”

    Should read –

    “”Kerry was invited to give the speech and it was billed as a “non-political” speech.”

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    Pamela,

    First of all, whether or not Kerry was invited is totally irrelevant to the topic of my post on the change in atmosphere in the country which is leading to many politicians (including some the Washington Post article missed) to make such speeches.

    Secondly, he did choose to give this speech. Politicians receive more invitations than they could possibly consider accepting. Which invitations are accepted, and which speeches are given, is a conscious choice. Kerry would not have chosen to make such a speech before the 2004 election.

    Thirdly, the fact that it was billed as a “non-political” speech is totally meaningless. Kerry and other Democrats are now speaking about religion due to the political necessities. The important thing is the message it gets out. Nobody else knows or cares if the message is billed as political or non-political.

  7. 7
    Pamela says:

    Ron

    Yes, Kerry did choose to give this speech and he did so with an open heart and open mind. It was a profound and moving speech, that reached far beyond the purview of one particular faith.

    The fact is that people vote on “values” and faith and/or beliefs influence the values of voters.

    You say the “The important thing is the message it gets out.” What message? That Democrats shouldn’t speak about their faith? Or they should?

    Yes Ron “the change in atmosphere in the country” is leading more politicians to speak out and up about faith. I suggest you read Applebee’s America.

  8. 8
    Ron Chusid says:

    That’s answered in the post. Ideally religious views should be irrelevant in deciding who to vote for as religion should play no part in government policy. Kerry has been in office for years without feeling compelled to give such a speech, recognizing these principles. It it an unfortuante change in the country that Kerry and others now find this necessary.

  9. 9
    Pamela says:

    Ron

    That is your idealistic opinion. To the majority of voters in this country, faith is important. Your beliefs may be founded in atheism, but you still have beliefs that influence your values, that you call “liberal” here.

    All people are entitled to their beliefs. Freedom of religion protects the right to speak freely about religion in this country. That goes for politicians too.

    To you it might be unfortunate but to the many of faith in this country, Kerry spoke from his heart and people respect that. I am sorry you don’t.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:

    Pamela,

    You totally misunderstand the post. The post in no way suggests any lack of respect for Kerry or what he said.

  11. 11
    Pamela says:

    Ron

    I do understand the post. Society on a whole throughout our country and the world is driven by faith. Many, many faiths. In an ideal world, we accept that and are willing to listen to people talk about about regardless of our views. No one holds a lock on faith, and to not talk about it gives republicans a lock hold. Sad but true.

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    Pamela,

    “In an ideal world, we accept that and are willing to listen to people talk about about regardless of our views.”

    We are not talking about just any people talking. This is about politicians talking. The Washington Post article makes a point that three Democrats have felt the need to speak out on this (and there have been other examples which they missed). Politicians should not have to talk about their religious views. Kerry went through his entire career so far avoiding such a speech until he found it to be necessary. Such a speech would never be given by a politician in most of Western Europe. Nor would it have been given in the United States until recently, especially by liberals.

    “No one holds a lock on faith, and to not talk about it gives republicans a lock hold. Sad but true.”

    Agreed. If Republicans are taking advantage of religion (the real problem here), then Democrats are forced to also do so.

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