Since the creation of the American constitution, religion has been a part of American politics. In the few years after the constitution was created, many tried to keep it out of politics but without any success. One can say, therefore, that religion has always been part of politics in America since it’s founding. The importance of religion in American politics has always been controversial and has elicited a lot of debate.
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Lambert (Lambert, 2008) demonstrated the relationship that has been there between politics and religion since the founding of the nation until the 21st century. Religion has shaped American politics in different ways and influenced how people have made political decisions. It has reached a point wherein politics; religious agenda is always combined with nonreligious agendas. During major elections in America, many people’s decision on who to vote for is guided by the religion of the contestants. There are others though a whose decision on who to vote for is not determined by faith. Religion has influenced many political decisions regarding issues like stem cell research, abortion, the Iraq war, and abortion. Religion has also influenced political views on immigration, and equality.
A demonstration of the importance of religion on politics in America is the fact that in elections for the posts of senate or congress, evangelicals have had a substantial role. The impact of religion is reflected by the increase in evangelicals who are elected to congress. The shift in the power held by different religions has shifted; the conservative religions have grown in power while the liberal has weakened.
The religion with the most influence on American politics is protestant, followed by catholic then other religions come behind. This is because this is the decreasing order in terms of size in America. In terms of importance, religion has more influence on politics than states. American politics is deeply interwoven with religion; it is what formed the foundation for the creation of the country. Its importance is seen in how it shapes the political identity and values. It is the most determinant factor in the American voters for the decision they make while voting and the party they support. A politician’s views on different issues that are pertinent in the country, for example, gay marriages, will determine whether religious people vote for him or her (Stephen, 2009).
The importance of religion in American politics has been evident in the current presidential campaigns. This shows that it has always been a major factor in politics even though issues raised by politicians and tactics used have changed. An example is seen in the elections of 2004 where evangelicals are said to have contributed to forty percent of President Bush’s total votes. Politicians have always used religion to rally huge support for themselves or discredit their opponents.
This has been a tactic that has been employed time and time again by politicians. An example is in 1928 and 1960 where Al Smith and John Kennedy respectively had to deal with the existing anxiety among voters about their religions. A lot of debate has been raised over the current president’s religion; this shows how heavily religion influences peoples’ opinions and how they will vote. Politicians recognize the role that it plays in politics and their campaign trails usually raise issues that are deemed sensitive by various religious outfits.
Values that are expressed by different religious outfits are usually the main issues of debate among politicians and are what usually determine who will win the day. Religion has shaped the character of voters and politicians; it has influenced how the country responds to political events within and outside the country (Lambert, 2008).
Religion has influenced how Americans respond to political issues that arise at home, and how the government deals with political issues in other countries. It has shaped how the government deals with both domestic and foreign issues, those elected to different posts voice their opinions on different government agendas based on their faith. More and more Christians are being encouraged to participate in the election process and vote; this is done at the church where they go for services (Stephen, 2009).
Christians in America have always had firm stances about issues affecting the nation like immigration, poverty, abortion, gay marriages, and war. The stance that politicians take on these issues usually determines their political success or failure. They have come to understand the magnitude with which a choice they make to support or be against an issue has in determining who will be next to enter an office. Many have experienced political suicide by engaging in activities that are deemed immoral by different religions and have had to back out of elections or relinquish their seats. A thing like sexual promiscuity among married politicians or major public servants has led to them being reprimanded by the whole nation.
This eventually has led to them leaving the political arena in which they dwelled. As much as many’s voting decision is not influenced by religion, religion has clear evidence, which demonstrates the magnitude with which it affects American politics (Lambert, 2008).
Lambert, F. (2008). Religion in American politics a short history. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Stephen, B. (2009). Understanding American Politics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.