As political junkies across the country eagerly await the Biden-Palin showdown tonight, On Faith, a joint project of the Washington Post and Newsweek, asked a panel of contributors what they would want to know about the candidates' faith. A few of these spiritual thinkers said the debates would be better if the questions left out religion all together.
Michael Otterson, head of public affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said:
I would ask Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin absolutely nothing about their religious beliefs… The media, political pundits, and many of the public have gorged themselves on religious issues of almost complete irrelevance while the country, deeply divided by everything from the Iraq war to how to control the price of gas, has spiraled toward economic meltdown… As long as respected news organizations treat religion like this—presenting it like it's a public policy issue or giving platforms to extreme voices to generate controversy—more people will become disillusioned until matters of faith lose their relevance altogether. Please! Let's grapple with the real issues of an election and leave the candidates to pray and worship in whatever way they choose.
Deepak Chopra, founder and president of Alliance for a New Humanity said:
If Joe Biden and Sarah Palin aren't asked about religion in their upcoming debate, that would be healthy. The fact that the right wing has profited handsomely from the religious issue doesn't make it fair or even constitutional. Nor does it offset the harm they have done. The Constitution kept God out of politics in order to avoid the inflamed conflict that has mired this country since the Reagan revolution.
Susan K. Smith, senior pastor at Advent United Church of Christ said:
Quite frankly, I am tired of all the discussion about religion and beliefs in this campaign. Being "religious" doesn't make one a necessarily better president. George Bush is religious, but neither the world nor this country seems to be the better for it. So, I really don't care about Palin's and Biden's religious beliefs. I do care, though, about what they think about what is the best way to help “the least of these” in this country and in this world. I hate religion. I hate how it makes people think they're better than others, or how it seems to make people think they have the right to stuff their beliefs down the throats of other people... and still treat people really badly. I think some of the nicest, and most moral people, are NOT religious. So, given the chance, I would not ask Palin or Biden about their religious beliefs.