Presidential Candidates on Religion

An ongoing record of the Democratic presidential hopefuls' comments on religion and spirituality

 

Continued from page 1

John Edwards


Senator John Edwards is a Methodist. He has been more reserved than other candidates in talking about religion and his personal faith, though he has acknowledged that his faith played a part in helping him recover from the death of his 16-year-old son Wade, in a 1996 car accident.



On Values


"...we cannot concede values to this president, because I think we win a values debate with this president. I don't think his values are the values that I grew up with in that small town in North Carolina. And they show in everything this administration does."


--

Appearance on FOX News Sunday, Dec. 28, 2003



On His Faith Journey


"...My faith has been enormous to me in my personal life and of course my personal life is a big impact on my political life. I have had an interesting faith journey over the course of my life. I was born and raised in the Southern Baptist church, I was baptized in the Southern Baptist Church and then later in life joined the Methodist church and like a lot of people, when I was in my college years, and I went to law school and became a lawyer and was raising my young family I moved away somewhat from my faith. And then I lost a son in 1996 and my faith came roaring back and it played an enormous role in my ability to get through that period. It stayed with me and has been enormously important.



On Faith's Role in Politics


"...In terms of my political life I believe there's a lot of the things that are part of my faith belief is also part of my political belief. My responsibilities to others, to help others. My work for instance, with Urban Ministries. I have been on the board of Urban Ministries for years before I went to the Senate. To provide help to the homeless in the Raleigh-Durham area in North Carolina is an example of that. So I think it's just part of my entire life."


--

Interview with the Interfaith Alliance, December 3, 2003



On Prayer


"I believe that God answers prayers."


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Washington Post profile, Aug. 7, 2001



"You know the Lord is in this place. You can feel his presence."


--

Campaign stop at a Sidney Park, S.C. church, Dec. 28, 2003



On Faith and the Constitution


"...for any publicly elected official, you're responsibility is to abide by and enforce the Constitution, and meet your constitutional duties. My personal faith guides and affects my personal decisions in my personal life. But as President of the United States I have a constitutional responsibility to all of the American people, which means, to all people of all faiths. So I think you have to be very, very careful to not let your own personal faith beliefs, particularly where they may differ with other faith beliefs, to influence national policy."


--

Interview with the Interfaith Alliance, December 3, 2003



On Faith-Based Initiatives


"Faith is enormously important to me personally and to tens of millions of Americans. In addition, religious institutions do wonderful work and make important contributions to our society.



"In a manner consistent with the First Amendment, faith-based charities should be able to participate in delivering services. But they should also meet the same anti-discrimination standards as other charities receiving government support."


--

Statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 7, 2004



Dick Gephardt


Rep. Dick Gephardt was raised a Baptist. He has spoken openly about how some of his early political positions (such as his former pro-life position on abortion) were influenced by his religious upbringing. Growing up, his mother encouraged him to become a minister. More recently, he has tied his religious upbringing to his interest in social justice.



On His Baptist Upbringing


"My commitment to economic and civil justice has roots in my childhood. I grew up on the south side of St. Louis - a place not known for racial diversity. My parents never finished high school, but they had a deep commitment to raising their two sons in a Baptist home filled with God and a passion for education. Their dreams were deferred. But like many of their generation, they nurtured the hopes of their children."


--

November 25, 2003 speech in Detroit



On Faith & Social Responsibility


"Even then, as a child, while I knew we had little, I knew we had more than many. The divisions of society were painfully clear. But the common bond of religious teachings can bridge great distances. And in those early years, from parents filled with great love, I was taught much. Fairness, respect, and dignity for all of God's children were central to my upbringing. But today, too many in our country feel too little of that respect and dignity, and it has as much to do with high expectations and low political rhetoric as it does with economic truths.

"Maya Angelou pointed out that 'I find it interesting that the meanest life, the poorest existence, is attributed to God's will, but as human beings become more affluent, as their living standard and style begin to ascend the material scale, God descends the scale of responsibility at commensurate speed.'

"Living a life of faith and working for economic empowerment are intertwined."


--

November 25, 2003 speech in Detroit



On Choosing Not to Become a Minister


"I decided that I could do what she wanted me to do and what I wanted to do in the ministry better in politics."


--

Quoted in Democracy in Action



On Church-State Separation


"The fact that we cannot allow the government, we cannot have the government, supporting religious views or supporting religion. We've got to have a wall of separation... I understand, and we all have our own philosophy, and we all have our own religious beliefs and our own ethical beliefs, and that's great. That's part of the diversity and wonder of America. But the government has to divorce itself."


--

FOXNews O'Reilly Factor appearance, Sept. 29, 2003



"I think saying God is -- I realize there are people that don't believe in God and this is somehow stating something to them that they may not accept. But I think when you go to the point of putting down ten rules of life as part of religious belief, you're promoting only one religion's views of how life should be lived, and I think you're transcending over that line between church and state that we shouldn't do."


--

FOXNews O'Reilly Factor appearance, Sept. 29, 2003





Continued on page 3: »

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