July 23rd, 2007
10:09 PM ET
7 years ago

Candidates promise to maintain separation of church and state

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Some of the Democratic presidential frontrunners said that although their faith is important to them, they promised they would keep their beliefs separate from their politics.

"It is crucial that the American people know that as president it will not be my job - and I believe it would be wrong - for me to impose my personal faith beliefs on the American people or to decide any kind of decision, policy decision, that will affect America on the basis of my personal faith beliefs," former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said.

The candidates were asked if they would back the agenda of evangelical Christians or other religious groups as strongly as the current administration. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama agreed with Edwards.

"I am proud of my Christian faith, and it informs what I do," Obama said. "And I don't think that people of any faith background should be prohibited from debating in the public square. But I am a strong believer in the separation of church and state."

- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: CNN/YouTube Debate
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Tim, St. Louis, MO

    I bet none will have the nerve to take the 'in God we trust' off the currency. How can we really have a separation if there are such double standards?

    July 23, 2007 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  2. Gary, Boston MA

    Umm... Why should they promise to maintain the separation of church and state?!?! IT IS IN THE CONSTITUTION already! The president can't do squat about it. It is the presidents duty, and oath to DEFEND the constitution. Making promises? NO PROMISES PLEASE. Uphold the constitution to the letter OR face impeachment. As easy to understand as Apple Pie!

    July 24, 2007 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  3. Michael - Stamford, CT

    Seperation from Church and State is often times used wrong and not properly understood. As far as secular voters go who want to remove God from everything well they do NOT respresent the majority. The phrase "In God We Trust" on our currency very much belongs there because the majority of Americans no matter what party you belong to supports this. These anti-Christian people who are trying to remove God out of everything are full of double standards because I don't hear one word out of them about the terrible things that radicals do in the name of their other religions. I'm not trying to make fun of anyone or put down what others believe in but at the same time I'm sick and tired of Christians always being the only ones to be insulted. The great thing about the United States is that every person is free to believe in or not believe in whatever he or she wants to. Sometimes I think too many Americans take the freedoms we have in our great nation for granted. If a person doesn't believe in anything well that's their free choice and I respect their right to do so but at the same time they should have respect for those that are people of faith. I happen to be a liberal but I'm also a person of faith in Christ.

    July 24, 2007 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Of course they will follow separation of church and state. None of them are religious anyway. The only thing they worship is money and your votes that put them in power.

    July 24, 2007 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  5. bprosserme

    Are you joking? Democrats would like to see the destruction of Church influence in the government. Church is one area they cannot bribe, threaten or control.

    July 24, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. Steve Thorngate, Washington, DC

    This post misses an important distinction between Edwards and Obama–Obama went on last night to say that "we are under obligation in public life to translate our religious values into moral terms that all people can share, including those who are not believers." Compare this to the Edwards quote included in the post and you see the philosophical differences in how the two see their faith informing their work in government. You also see why Obama is so appealing to many people of faith, even some who disagree with him on some of the issues.

    July 24, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  7. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    bprosserme ... you can get all the religion you want.

    All you have to do is ...

    GO TO CHURCH! 7 days a week/24 hours a day. NOBODY is saying you can't are they?

    I don't want your chocolate in my peanut butter or your religion in my government. The church is doing more than enough "bribing, threatening and controlling" of its own. This country was founded on limiting the threat from the Anglican Church of England (freedom FROM religion), because our founders didn’t want a Theocracy. That is why, in 1779, the Anglican church was disestablished or separated from the state, and by 1786, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Mason had produced the Virginia Statute of Religious Liberty, which firmly set forth principles that separated state power from church affairs, a position that reflected the one taken almost a century before by John Locke in his Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). Madison drew heavily on this experience in fashioning the Bill of Rights, proposed in 1789.

    See, I don't need to pray to YOUR God to be saved by MINE. And while I AM religious, I don't need to have my personal beliefs forced down your throat or legislated onto the masses like apparently you do.

    Michael – Stamford, CT ... You're defending "In God we trust" on currency now? Remember when Jesus went bezerk when he found money changing hands in his temple – overturning the tables and declaring that greedy men had turned His Father's house of prayer into a "den of thieves"? Well, how do you think he’d feel then about being so closely associated with U.S. currency?

    Catholics and their church have been associating the two for centuries – from enacting a papal vow of celibacy, not as a way to show devotion to Christ (as is commonly believed), but as a sneaky way for the church to amass wealth (to make sure that a deceased priest's belongings go directly to the church rather than any of his pesky wife or children) to the practice of purchasing “time off” from purgatory via cash donations to the church (known as indulgences) that thankfully went out during the Reformation.

    But inscribing it directly on to our currency? Christ devoted his life to serving the poor, the oppressed, and the disenfranchised – not the rich who control the war machine under this administration. Christ despised the obscene accumulation and unequal distribution of wealth now held by the church – the church has amassed so much wealth, its got its own own state with its own currency in the form of the Vatican.

    Christ DEFINITELY wouldn't want that on U.S. currency .. and you know it!

    And by the way .. I'm a Catholic. So save me the "Godless Liberal" shpeel already!

    July 24, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  8. Robert M. Reidy, Tillson, N.Y.

    Oh, my God !!! RIGHT ON RICK of Chicago !

    July 25, 2007 04:21 am at 4:21 am |