American Theocracy As Viewed From Europe

The BBC is airing a two part documentary on religion and politics in the United States on the BBC World Service’s Heart and Soul program on July 21 and 28. They present an overview in an article entitled, Must The US President Believe in God? The article notes both the evangelical support for George Bush and the attempts by the current Democratic candidates to attract religious votes. They note the potential risks to the Democrats (as I also discussed recently):

But in purely electoral terms, there is a danger for Democratic candidates in lunging too far towards the faithful, and away from the secular, non-religious voter.

John Green is the senior fellow in religion and American politics at the Pew Forum, in Washington DC. He said: “It’s possible that too much talk of religion might drive those votes away.”

Religion has also played a factor in local elections. They report on Colorado businessman Dave Habecker who has been on the town council for thirteen years but objected when they began reciting the pledge of allegiance at council meetings as the pledge contains the phrase Under God.”

Mr Habecker refused to stand and recite the pledge, and after being branded unpatriotic, was forced to enter a fresh election contest to remove him from office. He lost by some 300 votes.

I don’t know that anybody feels elated that I was removed from office for this reason,” he told the programme.

“Deep down they know that I was removed for my religious beliefs, which is anti-American. We brag about being the freest country in the world. Why do we coerce our citizens to stand and recite a pledge of allegiance? It’s a paradox.”

Update: Here’s the response which politicians should give when asked to discuss religion when campaigning.
Related Stories:

Changing Attitudes on Religion in Politics
George Bush, Christian Crusader

If We Only Had A President Who Understands Religion and Government

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