Gary Hart Laments Religious Pandering in Politics

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Washington, D.C. – On this Sunday’s State of Belief, The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy examines the rise in religiosity in presidential politics with former Senator and presidential candidate Gary Hart (D-CO).  Senator Hart tells Rev. Gaddy that meeting the approval of the Religious Right is a key test for White House candidates today.


“There is always going to be an interest on the part of voters on who their leaders are.  People would ask in living rooms in New Hampshire: what is your background, where did you come from? Those are legitimate questions.  But that has all changed,” he says.  “Candidates now vie for the attention of leaders of the religious right on the theory that it will deliver them a large number of supporters and financial support.”


Senator Hart, who wrote God and Caesar in America: an Essay on Religion and Politics, says there is an appropriate role for a candidate’s faith in a campaign, but it is a dangerous position to maintain.  “If you do have a particular religious upbringing, feel free to talk about that.  But I think if you try to become a quasi-religious leader in the process, you’ve probably gone too far,” he says.  “I think we all ought to go back and read the First Amendment of our Constitution. They didn’t put a separation of church and state amendment in the Constitution by accident.”


Senator Hart grew up in an evangelical family, and he even attended the same church as Focus on the Family President James Dobson.  “It is ironic that the same God and the same church turned me out to be what many would call a liberal Democrat and Dr. Dobson a conservative Republican,” Hart notes.


Also on the show: Journalist and spiritual activist Marisa Handler, an expanded edition of the “Intersection Awards,” and Welton’s “Preaching to the Choir” segment focusing this week on religious pluralism.