2016-07-27
Religion has come up time and time again during this year's campaign. Beliefnet has pulled together a compendium of quotations and speeches on the topic by both major candidates. Here, you'll find things that Democratic candidate Al Gore has said about religion, organized by topic. Index:
  • Personal Faith
  • Religion and the Election
  • Faith-Based Organizations
  • Education and Family Values

    Personal Faith:    
    On graduate school:
    "[I went to divinity school] to intensively explore the questions I had which seemed then and seem now to be the most important questions about what's the purpose of life, what's our relationship to the Creator, what's our spiritual obligation to one another. I didn't find all the answers that I thought I might, but I found better questions, and I found a process for living out better answers."
    From The New York Times, May 29, 1999

    On the purpose of life:
    "I think the purpose of life is to glorify God. I turn to my faith as the bedrock of my approach to any important questions in my life."
    From The New York Times, May 29, 1999

    On his faith:
    "I want people to see my [religious] experience as what it is, the most important thing in my life."
    From The New York Times, Oct. 22, 2000


    "Faith is the center of my life. I don't wear it on my sleeve, but I'm happy to respond to your question by affirming my faith."
    From The New York Times, May 29, 1999

    On the Bible:
    "Everything in the Bible makes sense to me. I interpret it my own way, and that's what my tradition teaches me to do. There are poetic passages that speak eloquently to me with meanings that transcend the literal words. In Genesis, for example, God creates this, that and the other in one day, two days, and that represents an order in creation that's perfectly evident to my heart."
    From The New York Times, Oct. 22, 2000

    On evangelical services:
    Q:One thing that I've noticed-well, lots of people have noticed this-I've seen video of you talking to African American churches, and it seems like there is a familiarity with the cadence that you adapt into almost uncannily. Have you-

    Gore: I guess that comes from my childhood and going to a lot of evangelical services. In Tennessee, our church is the New Missionary Baptist Church, which is an evangelical church. The months of each year that I spent in Tennessee were punctuated each Sunday by immersion in that kind of service. And I also attended revivals regularly as a child in the summers. And sometimes revivals would go night after night.
    From US News Online, "Al Gore: Running on His Faith"

    Religion and the Election    (back to index)

    On the issue of religion being a private matter during elections
    Q: Mr. Gore, you consider yourself a born-again Christian. You recently told The Washington Post that when faced with important problems you ask yourself what would Jesus do. Your opponent, Mr. Bradley, has said that personal faith is a private matter, not a matter to be discussed with the public. Should your religion be a private matter, and do you concede that all the talk about Jesus and Christianity on the campaign trail may be alienating to millions of non-Christians?

    Gore: Yes, I understand that, and I strongly support the separation of church and state. I strongly support the First Amendment, the establishment clause. I oppose, for example, the teaching of creationism in the public schools. I think that violates that provision of our Constitution, and I think that any public official who discusses his or her deepest beliefs and principles and faiths has an obligation to couple that expression, if he or she chooses to make it, with an affirmation of tolerance and respect and protection for those who have some other faith, especially for those who have a minority faith.

    I didn't volunteer any of the comments you mentioned, but do you think that a public official who is asked whether or not he is a believer has an obligation to dodge the question and not answer the question? I think we should be free and open about what our beliefs are, but that's my decision. I respect Senator Bradley's decision to handle the question differently.
    Democratic Debate, University of New Hampshire, January 5, 2000

    On whether religion is a personal matter:
    "It's a personal subject, and most people are reluctant to talk about their personal faith. I do not often volunteer it or wear it on my sleeve. I was raised in a tradition that honors the establishment clause, and I think that puts an extra obligation on those who serve in public office, especially in a constitutional position, to refrain from implying some special guidance by virtue of their relationship to God or religious tradition. And I try never to inadvertently communicate something like that. But at the same time, I think that we have gone too far in conveying the impression that those in public life are obligated to refrain from ever acknowledging that they have a spiritual life and that they have a set of core beliefs. And I refuse to abide by that mis-what I regard as a misguided set of expectations. I freely acknowledge the role of faith in my life and the centrality of faith in my values system."
    From US News Online, "Al Gore: Running On His Faith"

    On faith and the campaign:
    Q: During the bumpier stretches of the campaign was faith of help?

    Gore: Sure, sure. I mean, I don't want to convey the impression that it was an ordeal. But any time you need stamina and fortitude, personal faith is a place to go to find it, of course. And I think that the challenges that each of us confronts in life really shape us and test us and make us who we are. And I don't know how I would react to many of the challenges that have made me stronger without my faith.
    From US News Online, "Al Gore: Running on His Faith"

    Faith-Based Organizations    (back to index)
    On the role of faith-based organizations
    Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is within us. I believe that means in part that in our hearts, we already know the way it is supposed to be; we already know what's right. The way it is supposed to be, we already know, has not even one child crying from hunger. Not one old person left uncared-for. We know the way it is supposed to be-and those at the forefront of the faith- and values-based organizations movement have decided to be true day after day to the way it is supposed to be. From "The Role of Faith-Based Organizations," a speech given May 24, 1999

    For too long, national leaders have been trapped in a dead end debate. Some on the right have said for too long that a specific set of religious values should be imposed, threatening the founders' precious separation of church and state. In contrast, some on the left have said for too long that religious values should play no role in addressing public needs. These are false choices: hollow secularism or right-wing religion. Both positions are rigid; they are not where the new solutions lie. I believe strongly in the separation of church and state. But freedom of religion need not mean freedom from religion. There is a better way.
    From "The Role of Faith-Based Organizations," a speech given May 24, 1999

    Ordinary Americans have decided to confront the fact that our severest challenges are not just material, but spiritual. Americans know that the fundamental change we need will require not only new policies, but more importantly a change of both our hearts and our minds. If children are not taught right from wrong, they behave chaotically; if individuals don't do what's right by their kids, no new government programs will stanch that decay. Whether they are religious or not, most Americans are hungry for a deeper connection between politics and moral values; many would say "spiritual values." Without values of conscience, our political life degenerates. And Americans profoundly --rightly--believe that politics and morality are deeply interrelated. They want to reconnect the American spirit to the body politic....

    Those in the movement of FBO's, as they have put it themselves, are "waging peace." They took responsibility to change themselves and their own homes before asking government or groups they disagreed with to change. And all the great religions teach that responsibility begins at home--with oneself. These little acts of kindness so many Americans are building into their daily or weekly lives are not trivial; they add up to sweeping social change.

    As Mother Teresa put it, "Plant the act, reap the habits. Plant the habits, reap the virtue. Plant the virtue, reap the character. Plant the character, reap the destiny."

    I am here today because I believe government should play a greater role in sustaining this quiet transformation--not by dictating solutions from above, but by supporting the effective new policies that are rising up from below.

    And I believe the lesson for our nation is clear: in those specific instances where this approach can help us meet crushing social challenges that are otherwise impossible to meet--such as drug addiction and gang violence--we should explore carefully-tailored partnerships with our faith community, so we can use the approaches that are working best.
    Speech, Atlanta, GA, May 24, 1999

    On the future of faith-based organizations:
    "Let us put the solutions that faith-based organizations are pioneering at the very heart of our national strategy for building a better, more just nation. Many people in the faith-based organizations want their role to be not exemplary, but strategic; not to be merely a shining anecdote in a pretty story told by a politician, but to have a seat at the national table when decisions get made. Today I give you this pledge: if you elect me President, the voices of faith-based organizations will be integral to the policies set forth in my administration."
    From ConservativeNews.org, May 25, 1999

    Education and Family Values (back to index)
    On the role of faith and values in American society
    In my religious tradition, there is a story known as the parable of the sower.

    When you sow seeds by hand, you carry a sack over one shoulder, and you reach down and form an opening between thumb and forefinger and scatter the seeds on the ground.

    What is that process called? It is called "broadcasting." In fact, the term broadcasting, as we use it today to describe radio and television, comes directly from the word we used to describe to the sowing of seeds by human hands.

    Human hands made the programs that are cast broadly through the airwaves into the minds of America's children.

    In the parable of the sower, some of those seeds fall by the wayside some fall on the rocks, some on barren land, some on land already clotted with thriving plants. But some fall on open, fertile soil, where they take root, and bear fruit.

    There is no question in my mind that some portion of those 20,000 simulated murders sown in the minds of each child bear bitter fruit.

    There is no question that images not only of violence, but of explicit sexuality, of inappropriate behavior, even glorified images of young women who are so thin as to be unhealthy have a powerful effect on children's minds.

    What is the solution? Of course, we need more parental responsibility. But that is not enough....

    We need to find new ways to help parents balance work and family so you will have time to pass on the right values to your children.

    Of course, for all the many contributing causes to tragedies such as Columbine, we are still left with a basic question of good and evil.

    In my faith tradition, I am drawn to the story of the first murder. Cain's offering was rejected, whereas his brother Abel's was accepted. God asked him: "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it."

    On the street-corners of America's cities today, we often hear the word "disrespected." Cain felt "dissed" by God. Those boys at Columbine, according to all the available evidence, and despite all the privileges they had, felt disrespected. Disconnected. Not accepted. Rejected.

    Sin came to their door, whether through Nazi hate literature, or violent video games, or a culture of death and destruction. They still had a duty to resist it and master it--but its desire was for them, and they were vulnerable to it because they felt disrespected.

    That is why this is a battle we must wage in every American family, and in every human heart.

    We must make the children of this country less vulnerable to sin by making sure that they feel connected. By nurturing in them a set of values that allows them to find self-respect, self-discipline, and the appreciation of those who care about them....

    I want to conclude by sharing some of the personal values that have shaped my life.

    I believe in hope over despair, striving over resignation, faith over cynicism.

    I believe in the power of knowledge to make the world a better place.

    I believe in fulfillment through family, for the family is the true center of a meaningful life. It is in our families that we learn to love.

    I believe our communities' purpose is to be there for families the way families are always there for each other.

    I believe in serving God and trying to understand and obey God's will for our lives.

    Even though it's often hard to remember, I know that God's will is for us to do right by the least among us.

    I believe in working to achieve social justice and freedom for all.

    I also believe there is revelatory power in our world.

    I believe in protecting the Earth's environment against an unprecedented onslaught. For we are part of God's earth not separate from it.

    I believe in balance between contemplation and action, between individual concerns and commitment to the community, between love for the natural world and love for our wondrous civilization.

    I believe in America. Almost everywhere in the world the values that the United States has proclaimed, defended, and tried to live are now rising.

    Speech, University of New Hampshire, Durham, May 22, 1999

    Education "Blue Book" response to question "How can we ensure safe schools?"
    "Faith and family are critical. We must support parental involvement in our schools. I propose that we try something new: Parents, teachers, and students should all meet together at the beginning of the year, on the first day of school, to agree upon and sign a strict, fair discipline code. I will also encourage the commitment of faith-based organizations to supplement efforts to overcome problems like youth violence and drug addiction. Unlike Governor Bush, however, I do not advocate using faith-based organizations as a substitute for governmental programs; I want to use them to add to our efforts, not as an excuse to cut our commitment."
    From AlGore2000.com

    On Columbine, faith and sin:
    "Whatsoever thou do unto the least of these, thou do unto me"-doest-which I think, though a direct quotation from my own Christian tradition, is a spiritual law that most every faith tradition holds up as one of the keys to a good society and a good life. There are many challenges that I have in the policy arena that I have found easier to understand by reference to my faith tradition. I'll give you an example. After Columbine took place and the issue of school violence and youth violence moved to center stage, all of us were engaged in what you might call soul-searching because it was so deeply troubling. And I turned to a passage in Genesis that describes the first murder in the Bible, when Cain slays Abel, and read it in a new way. It often happens that new events will cause a reinterpretation of some familiar text, almost like a collector of-a beachcomber will find new shells after each tide.

    Both Cain and Abel made offerings. And interpreters far more learned than I have talked about how there's the metaphor for the transition from the grazing society to the agricultural. But the offering of Abel was accepted, and the offering of Cain was rejected. And soon after that, the Lord says to Cain, "Why has your countenance fallen? Why are you angry? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do that, then sin lieth at your door"-in another translation, croucheth at your door. "And its desire is for you. But you must overcome it." Now, I've read that-I've read past that so many times, not that I'm a dutiful and inveterate reader. But I'm familiar with the text, and I never really dwelled on that section.

    But if you look at the inner life of those boys in black trenchcoats, by their own words and by the testimony of their acquaintances, they felt rejected and despised in spite of all their advantages and riches and comforts. They nevertheless felt that what they had to offer in life had been rejected. And sin, whether you believe it to be real or metaphorical, came to their door. And its desire was for them, whether it reached them through Internet Nazi hate sites or violent video games or other cultural expressions or in whatever way. And they failed in the duty they retained to overcome it.
    From US News Online, "Al Gore: Running on His Faith"

    On Family:
    Q: Why should Catholics--in particular--vote for you?

    Because faith and family are the core of what I am about. Because I believe very deeply in policies that strengthen families, that promote religious freedom, that respect the role of parents, that help parents not only in the economic struggle but in the struggle against a culture that competes with them in their efforts to impart proper values to their children.
    Catholic Digest interview, Aug. 30, 2000

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