John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, won the presidential election of 1960 in part because of his stance on the separation of church and state. In his speech, given at the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in front of a mostly Protestant audience he stated, “I believe in a president whose views on religion are his own private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation, nor imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.” Kennedy expressed his desire for a continued voter acceptance of politics being independent of religion . Today, however, many Republican candidates are using their own conservative religions as a political platform and, as a result, denouncing Kennedy’s speech, which is the very principle upon which the United States was founded . By blurring the lines between church and state Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann and their Republican constituents are opening themselves up to more scrutiny and questions regarding the idea that they are discriminatory about what they choose to believe within the bible based on their own personal and political agendas, namely LGBT rights.
Arguably, the most hot button topic in today’s ever-changing political arena is LGBT rights. This subject has reached the forefront of almost every political election over the past few years and is now at a boiling-over point with Republicans taking the anti-gay marriage stance and supporting their position by hiding behind their bibles. Gov. Rick Perry has even put forth the position of endorsing the beliefs of an anti-gay ministry called the American Family Association lead by Reverend Don Wildmon. Perry has taken an incredibly hard line against LGBT rights, basing his argument on the idea that the Bible states that a marriage is between a man and woman. However, when asked about his position on the death penalty, Perry is a strong supporter of the issue even though in that very same Bible there is a clear and precise quote that says, “Thou shalt not kill,” a perfect example of his selective religious ideologies.
Recently, Rep. Michele Bachmann was asked whether or not, if she won the presidential election, she would be submissive to her husband in office. This caused an outrageous amount of disgust around the United States. Yet, if taken in the context that it was intended, which was to ask her if she took into practice the bible quote, “Wives, submit to your husbands,” it is an entirely relevant question based on the fact that she has made her evangelical convictions the basis of her election campaign. When answering the question she artfully changed the biblical meaning of the word submissive by stating that it means “respect” but her interpretation of bible quotes in regards to LGBT rights remain literal and unbending. Bachmann has even gone as far as to say that public schools should endorse the Christian message that gay children “can run but they can’t hide” from her vindictive God and that they are part of Satan.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy spoke of the fear of persecution he faced being part of the Catholic diocese while running for president. He stated, “Today, I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you, until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped apart at a time of great national peril.” The citizens of the United States are now seeing this prophecy come true in today’s politics at a time of undeniable national turmoil. By bringing religion into their political endeavors Perry, Bachmann and many others are victimizing an entire group of people and in turn insulting the very basis of what this country stands for, religious freedom and tolerance of different beliefs.