Jim DeMint spoke to social conservatives in Iowa and encouraged them to focus on values rather than on the candidate:
“I hope Iowa will not only be the first state to pick the right candidate… but also the first state to redirect our country to the principles that we want our candidate to carry,” he said. “Those principles that will restore the greatness, the freedom, the opportunity. … We must choose the right principles before we can choose the right candidate.”
What's more important: Theology or Values?
In deciding who is the best candidate for Christian voters, its values that matter, not theology. As social conservatives ponder on which candidate reflect their values, its important for them to realize that a candidate's religion and values are not always on the same page. A candidate might be of your particular faith but not have the same values you hold. On the other hand, a candidate might not be of your faith but cherishes the same values you do.
For example, Harry Reid is Mormon, but I would never vote for him since he doesn't reflect my values. On the other hand, I support Romney, not because of his religion but because of his values.
Likewise, Christians are aware that there are many politicians who are Christians but don't have good values and are not worth supporting. On the other hand, Senator Joesph Lieberman is obviously not Christian, but is a Jewish politician who values reflect the traditional conservative view of America.
This is an important and crucial concept for Social Conservatives to understand that a candidate's religion or the doctrine of that religion is not an important factor in deciding to vote for. The common ground that unite conservatives of all faiths is values. People may not agree the doctrines of various religions, but people can agree on common values that are present in almost every religion.
The Founding Fathers: Theology or Values?
Our Founding Fathers came from various different religious backgrounds, they focused on the common values and beliefs shared by all those who participated in the creation of the Constitution. The Constitution's power and beauty is derived from the fact that it based on broad principles that are cherished by people of all faiths. The Constitution protects people's freedom of religion. It protects people's of speech in which we are free to about things that are important to us such as God, church, prayer and scriptures. All these things are valued by people of all faiths.
While the Founding Fathers wanted religion to play a role in public life, they also wanted to prevent the federal government from endorsing a specific denomination or sect. They also wanted people to vote for candidates running for Congress or President to focus on a candidate's values and not their religion. That is why the Founding Fathers specifically forbid religion as a litmus test in the Constitution.It was intended that a person's faith was never a factor in considering someone for elected office or as a requirement to hold a job in the federal government.
Why did the Founding Fathers focus on values rather than religion when drafting the Constitution?
The reason is because the Founding Fathers were purposely trying to avoid the mistake that Old Europe had made in that there was one religion had the endorsement of the Government at the exclusion of all other religions. In fact, England herself has suffered a wave of political instability as Catholic and Protestants fought to place a Protestant or Catholic King or Queen on the throne.
As a result, the Founding Fathers understood many countries with a religiously pluralistic society, such as England, have struggled to unite their people of different faiths. The solution in Europe was to force unity through governmental endorsement of a particular religion. In other words, they thought religious unity could come from forced conformity to a particular faith. However, that created political and social instability.
The Founding Father had a different yet radical and novel solution to governing a religiously diverse society was to unite people based on common values shared by all faiths rather than uniting people based on a common religion. That is why America was and still is a politically and socially stable country.
The fact that the Founding Fathers understood that values was more important than theology in politics was a ground breaking concept. This radical idea is an idea that gets rarely discussed in classrooms, on television, in churches or at the dinner table with family and friends. Moreover, its a concept that appears to be an idea that social conservatives seems to be unable to grasp.
2012 Election: Theology or Values?
However, Mitt Romney understands this concept. He wants to restore this important idea if he ever has an opportunity to become President. In his speech at the George Bush Presidential Library, he tells American people this:
"Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion – rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith."
Our country was created on a foundation of common values that unites us as a people regardless of their faith. Any demand that a presidential candidate be of a political faith runs against the very essence of America and that it can tear this country apart.
John F. Kennedy made this same argument in his address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association during the 1960 Presidential campaign. Being concerned that a Presidential candidate was Catholic or of some other faith was simply unAmerican. He also stated that while a voter's refusal to vote for a candidates based their faith might be an issue in the current election, it might be that the voter's own faith might be the subject of unfair scrutiny by the general public in the next election cycle:
"For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew--or a Quaker--or a Unitarian--or a Baptist...Today I may be the victim--but tomorrow it may be you--until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril."
For the religious right to be politically successful in defeating Obama in 2012, they need to be inclusive, not exclusive. Conservatives will allow Obama to have a second term if they squabble with each other about a candidate's religion. However, we can put a conservative in the White House if we focus on the values that unite us and support a candidate who will fight for the values that we all cherish.
Getting religious conservatives to unite and form a political coalition of conservatives is not impossible, provided people are willing to park their religious baggage at the voting booth.