We don't have to raise taxes to avoid the President's devastating cuts to our military. Republicans have passed a plan that replaces these cuts with responsible spending reforms.
In order to balance our budget, the choice doesn't have to be either higher taxes or dramatic benefit cuts for those in need. Instead we should grow our economy so that we create new taxpayers, not new taxes, and so our government can afford to help those who truly cannot help themselves.
And the truth is every problem can't be solved by government. Many are caused by the moral breakdown in our society. And the answers to those challenges lie primarily in our families and our faiths, not our politicians.
RYAN: I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, about how to make sure that people have a chance in life. Now, you want to ask basically why I'm pro-life? It's not simply because of my Catholic faith. That's a factor, but it's also because of reason and science. I believe that life begins at conception. Now, I understand this is a difficult issue. And I respect people who don't agree with me on this. But the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortion with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.
A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage. I know this good and decent man for what he is--warm and loving and patient.
He has tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith, and love of one's fellow man. From the time we were first married, I've seen him spend countless hours helping others, and been there when late-night calls of panic came from a member of our church whose child had been taken to the hospital.
You may not agree with Mitt's positions on issues or his politics. But let me say this to every American who is thinking about who should be our next President: No one will work harder. No one will care more.
The insurance requirement, part of the sweeping Affordable Care Act that had earned Obama such disdain among tea partiers, allowed narrow exemptions for churches but not other faith-based organizations such as universities or hospitals. Many states have similar laws, and the vast majority of health plans cover birth control. But the issue became a furious election-year fight, and Rubio its most high-profile combatant. "This is not about women's rights or contraception; this is about the religious liberties that our country has always cherished." "At the end of the day, it's about the fact that now the federal government has the power to force a religion to pay for something the religion teaches is wrong." Rubio's legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, would expand exemptions for faith-based organizations.
A week after Ryan's boast, the bishops sent letters to Congress saying that the Ryan budget, passed by the House, "fails to meet" the moral criteria of the Church, namely its view that any budget should help "the least of these" as the Christian Bible requires: the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the jobless. "A just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons," the bishops wrote. In fact, Ryan would cut spending on the least of these by about $5 trillion over 10 years--from Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and the like.
Ryan didn't turn the other cheek, saying, "The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it.
One Romney supporter said, "What you are suggesting would be political suicide." I beg to differ. If Romney does not throw off the advice of his political handlers and begin to speak straight from his heart concerning his Mormon faith, especially to Evangelical Christians, it is doubtful he will become the 45th president.
I would argue that the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon is not his great problem, Romney is his own biggest problem when he makes naive statements like, "Voters don't care what religion I have." Voters do care that he is a practicing Mormon, and they want to know how his Mormonism will shape and affect his presidency.
PAWLENTY: The protections between the separation of church & state were designed to protect people of faith from government, not government from people of faith.
Q: How will that affect your decision-making?
SANTORUM: I approach issues using faith and reason. And if your faith is pure and your reason is right, they'll end up in the same place.
Q: Does faith have a role in public issues?
PAUL: I think faith has something to do with the character of the people that represent us, and law should have a moral fiber to it and our leaders should. We shouldn't expect us to try to change morality. You can't teach people how to be moral. But the Constitution addresses this by saying-- literally, it says no theocracy. But it doesn't talk about church & state. The most important thing is the First Amendment. Congress shall write no laws--which means Congress should never prohibit the expression of your Christian faith in a public place.
All the great religions call on us to follow the Golden Rule: to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. One of the best ways America follows this faith in a secular way is in the treatment we give to individuals with special needs. Without so much as mentioning religion, we strive to treat these most vulnerable members of our society the way we ourselves would like to be treated.
We could always do more, but America says a lot about itself in the way we support these amazing families. Not just with laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, but in our private lives; in countless individual gestures in countless communities, our faith-rooted values are put to work to help special kids and adults.
In the 2008 Republican primary, Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's Mormon faith was likewise perceived as an issue by some voters. Claiming that many would be reluctant to pull the lever for a person of his beliefs, some pundits and political advisors urged him to "do a JFK." Just give a speech, they told him, and reassure voters that your faith will have nothing to do with your presidency. Instead, he gave a thoughtful speech that eloquently and correctly described the role of faith in American public life.
Unlike JFK, Romney declared that our religious liberty is "fundamental to America's greatness." And he spoke openly of "how my faith would inform my presidency, if elected."
A: His intention in expressing that was so that government did not mandate a religion on people. And Thomas Jefferson also said never underestimate the wisdom of the people. And the wisdom of the people, I think in this issue is that people have the right and the ability and the desire to express their own religious views, be it a very personal level, which is why I choose to express my faith, or in a more public forum. And the wisdom of the people, thankfully, engrained in the foundation of our country, is so extremely important. And Thomas Jefferson wanted to protect that.
OBAMA: Hillary has been saying I’m elitist, out of touch, condescending. Let me be absolutely clear. It would be pretty hard for me to be condescending towards people of faith, since I’m a person of faith and have done more than most other campaigns in reaching out specifically to people of faith, and have written about how Democrats make an error when they don’t show up and speak directly to people’s faith. The same is true with respect to gun owners. I have large numbers of sportsmen and gun owners in my home state, and they have supported me precisely because I have listened to them.
OBAMA: I meant: People are going through very difficult times right now. When people feel like Washington’s not listening to them, then politically they end up focusing on those things that are constant, like religion. They end up being much more concerned about votes around things like guns, where traditions have been passed on.
CLINTON: I am the granddaughter of a factory worker from the Scranton lace mills, who was also very active in the Court Street Methodist Church. I don’t believe that my grandfather clung to religion when Washington is not listening to them. I think that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of faith in times that are good and times that are bad. And I similarly don’t think that people cling to their traditions, like hunting and guns, when they are frustrated with the government. I just don’t believe that’s how people live their lives.
A: What I believe is that God created the universe, and that the 6 days in the Bible may not be 6 days as we understand it. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth, that is fundamentally true. Now whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible, that I don’t presume to know. But one last point--I do believe in evolution. I don’t think that is incompatible with Christian faith. Just as I don’t think science generally is incompatible with Christian faith. There are those who suggest that if you have a scientific bent of mind, then somehow you should reject religion. And I fundamentally disagree with that. In fact, the more I learn about the world, the more I know about science, the more I’m amazed about the mystery of this planet and this universe. And it strengthens my faith as opposed to weakens it.
A: I believe people are people of faith because it is part of their whole being; it is what gives them meaning in life, through good times and bad times. It is there as a spur, an anchor, to center one in the storms, but also to guide one forward in the day-to-day living that is part of everyone’s journey.
Q: You have been extremely critical of Senator Obama’s recent comments in which he argued that som economically hard-pressed Americans have “gotten bitter and cling to guns or religion.”
A: Well, he will have to speak for himself. Those comments do seem elitist, out of touch and, frankly, patronizing. That has nothing to do with him being a good man or a man of faith. We had two very good men and men of faith run for president in 2000 and 2004. But large segments of the electorate concluded that they did not really understand or relate to or frankly respect their ways of life.
A: I absolutely will make that commitment. I make that commitment with humility because we’ve got a lot of work to do economically in this country to bring about a more just and fair economy. It starts with recognizing the wages for average families have gone down during the most recent economic expansion. That’s never happened before. We’ve got to shore up the mortgage market. We’re going to have to change our tax code. It is a moral imperative to provide health care to every single American. And invest in early childhood education. Many of these can be part of faith-based initiatives I want to keep the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives open, but I want to make sure that its mission is clear. Faith-based initiatives should be targeted specifically at the issue of poverty and how to lift people up.
A: Of course not. You look at individuals based upon their skills and their ability, their values, their intelligence. And there are many who are agnostic or atheist or who have very different beliefs about the nature of the divine than I do, and, and you evaluate them based on their skills. But I can tell you that I myself am a person of faith and respect the sense of the common bond of humanity that comes from that fundamental belief.
Q: But there’d be no litmus test?
A: No, no. There’s no litmus test of that nature.
A: In New York City we have seen the transformation of Harlem from a combination of government action creating an empowerment zone, the private sector coming in to take advantage of that and an explosion of entrepreneurial dynamism. We’ve also seen the faith based community like Abyssinians & others that have been partners with it and of course we’ve seen a lot of hip hop participants and leaders taking advantage of that. So we need this partnership. We need this partnership between the public and private sector and the not-for-profit and faith-based sector. And we need to make sure that young people have a particular stake in what we are going to present. That’s what I’ve worked on in NYC and in upstate NY and I intend to put that to work when I’m president.
A: Yes, there are some inconsistencies and hypocrisy of people who mix religion and politics sometimes. I have said it’s important for Democrats to reach out to the faith community, and the reason is because 90% of Americans believe in God. It’s a source of values. It’s a source of their moral compass. And I know it’s a source of strength for me and my family. I think it’s important for us not to presume that faith has no part in the public square. Look at Martin Luther King, the abolitionists, the suffragettes. We have a long history of reform movements being grounded in that sense often religiously expressed that we have to extend beyond ourselves and our individual immediate self-interests to think about something larger.
Gov. Romney accepted the apologies, saying, “Clearly, any derogatory comments about anyone’s faith--those comments are troubling. The fact they keep on coming up is even more troubling.”
It’s not all negative, however. At an early campaign stop a man in the audience challenged Romney directly, telling him that he would surely go to hell. The crowd groaned, then booed the man. Romney responded with what has become his signature comment on religion. “I believe Americans want a person of faith to lead the country. It doesn’t matter what brand.”
Obama’s faith shapes his values, as it does for millions of Americans. As he said in a recent speech on faith and politics:
Our values should express themselves not just through our churches or synagogues, temples or mosques; they should express themselves through our government. Because whether it’s poverty or racism, the uninsured or the unemployed, war or peace, the challenges we face today are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten-point plan. They are moral problems, rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness--in the imperfections of man. And so long as we’re not doing everything in our personal and collective power to solve them, we know the conscience of our nation cannot rest.
In June of 2006, Obama delivered what a Washington Post columnist called perhaps the most important speech on religion and politics in 40 years. Speaking before an evangelical audience, Senator Obama candidly discussed his own Christian faith and the need for a deeper, more substantive conversation about the role of faith in American life.
In December of 2006, Obama joined Pastor Rick Warren to discuss moral leadership and Global AIDS. And in June of 2007, Obama challenged Americans to come together around a ‘Politics of Conscience’ to move our nation forward.
A: I don’t pretend to understand the wisdom and the power of God. I do believe in prayer. And I have relied on prayer consistently throughout my life. I like to say that, if I had not been a praying person before I got to the White House, after having been there for just a few days I would’ve become one. So I am very dependent on my faith, & prayer is a big part of that
Nonetheless, she turned inward. Her press secretary stated, “Clearly this is not the best day in Mrs. Clinton’s life. This is a time she relies on her strong religious faith.” Hillary elaborated, announcing, “I’m not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith.”
There were in fact spiritual sources that Hillary tapped at this time, taking guidance from certain ministers. One such was civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
HUCKABEE: I never criticized Gov. Romney for that. When a person says, “My faith doesn’t affect my decision-making,” that the person is saying their faith is not significant to impact their decision process. I tell people up front, “My faith does affect my decision process.”
Q: But you answered a question on Feb. 11 about Romney in this way: “I’m troubled by a person who tells me their faith doesn’t influence their decisions.“
HUCKABEE: A person’s faith shouldn’t qualify or disqualify for public office. But we ought to be honest and open about it.
Q: Gov. Romney, do you accept that he wasn’t talking about you?
ROMNEY: Everyone who’s a person of faith has values that are deeply held. That’s what makes America such a powerful land: that comes from being a people of faith, but not people of a particular church or a particular synagogue. Rather, the great values we share are American values.
I support and respect the rights of independent homeschoolers and those who partner with local and state-wide school districts. There must be equity in treatment of all homeschoolers in all programs across the state. The use of privately-purchased, faith-based materials should not be a reason for withholding funding.
A: We see an adequate level of funding for faith-based initiatives today.
Q: What, specifically, would you do to help make rural Alaska sustain itself economically?
A: I support a municipal revenue sharing so local areas can prioritize their own needs. The state needs to establish a rural energy plan. Commercial fishing is a mainstay for many villages, and I oppose actions that cut off Alaskans from our fisheries.
I told him I understood his position but had to disagree with it. I explained my belief that few women made the decision to terminate a pregnancy casually; that any pregnant woman felt the full force of the moral issues involved when making that decision; that I feared a ban on abortion would force women to seek unsafe abortions, as they had once done in this country. I suggested that perhaps we could agree on ways to reduce the number of women who felt the need to have abortions in the first place.
“I will pray for you,” the protester said. “I pray that you have a change of heart.” Neither my mind nor my heart changed that day, nor did they in the days to come. But that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own-that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that had been extended to me.
Critics of the faith-based effort warn that Romney's move bolsters President Bush's attempt to get more federal dollars to religious organizations carrying out social services, a policy they say is eroding the traditional division between church and state. ''The Bush administration is trying to break down the church-state wall and give public money to the churches without the legal safeguards that ought to be in place," said one critic.
Faith-based organizations apply directly for the federal grants, but Romney said the state can assist groups in the application process.