Religion and The Election
Religion is always a factor in any presidential race. Religious beliefs, or the lack thereof, form values that people apply when choosing a candidate. This year, however, the role of religion will likely be front and center. Just look at the candidates. We'll potentially have the first Mormon nominee for president and a liberal Christian president seeking re-election.
Will the faiths of the candidates affect the way Americans vote or will it motivate some to simply stay at home?
There's also the issue of the Obama administration's Health and Human Services rule that requires religious organizations to include contraception (birth control, the morning after pill, sterilization) in their health insurance plans. This will be a major issue in the election.
President Obama says it's about providing women greater access to contraception. Since a religiously affiliated organization like a Catholic hospital typically employs both Catholics and non-Catholics, the president says employees who don't have a moral objection to birth control should be able to access birth control under their insurance plans.
But many Americans say it violates religious liberty. It's forcing Catholics and other religious people to pay for something that violates their conscience. Already, coalitions on both sides of the issue are planning lines of attack.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, the head of the Hispanic Evangelical Association, says he has "great concerns" across the board. The HHS decision is one of the priority platforms his organization is addressing this year.
Beltway Buzz caught up with Rev. Rodriguez outside of the White House this week after the Easter Prayer Breakfast.
Rodriguez: It will be, in my opinion, an important issue in this upcoming election. The issue of religious liberty. Can Uncle Sam dictate what religious organizations do? It pertains to their practices, their employees. Very unprecedented and very concerning for those of us who have a very strong faith narrative.
Rodriguez: It's about the freedom of conscience. It's about having the ability to make sure that we have the freedom where government will not dictate or prompt us to sacrifice our convictions on the alter of political expediency so it's beyond contraception, it's about religious liberty at the end of day. I do believe it is an unprecedented intrusion into the religious rights, the very rights that we have guaranteed in the constitution.