Candidates' Views on Separation of Church and State

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posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 04:53 PM
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As I see it, it doesn't matter if the presidential and VP candidates have extreme religious ideas or worship in a "radical" church. I don't care if they are Satanists or Snakehandlers...IF they don't have any intentions on forcing their religious views onto the public by legal means OR making the church a political battleground OR in any way stomping on the First Amendment, which reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

BARACK OBAMA:

Transcript From the Fourth Democratic Debate



I am proud of my Christian faith. And it informs what I do. And I don’t think that people of any faith background should be prohibited from debating in the public square.

But I am a strong believer in the separation of church and state...

By the way, I support it not just for the state but also for the church, because that maintains our religious independence and that’s why we have such a thriving religious life.

But what I also think is that we are under obligation in public life to translate our religious values into moral terms that all people can share, including those who are not believers. And that is how our democracy’s functioning, will continue to function. That’s what the founding fathers intended.


JOE BIDEN

Biden on Church and State



In 2005, Biden told The News Journal (Wilmington, Del.): "This is a nation founded on the idea of the separation of church and state. After 200 years, why the hell would you want to start messing with that?" Biden also stated that his religion is "part of my spirituality, part of my identity." However, Biden supports abortion rights and federal financing for embryonic stem-cell research, stances that run in opposition to those of his church.


It's clear that Obama and Biden support separation of church and state spedified in the First Amendment.

The rest is not so cut and dried.

JOHN MCCAIN

Religion and Politics



In an interview with Beliefnet in September 2007, McCain said that "the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation," and added that "the lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn't say, 'I only welcome Christians.' We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here, they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles." During his 2000 presidential campaign, McCain said the nation was founded on "Judeo-Christian values" but added that "political intolerance by any political party is neither a Judeo-Christian nor an American value."


SARAH PALIN

We haven't yet heard from her on this subject. I look forward to hearing her views.

The following are some items that make me wonder and be somewhat suspicious about her commitment to Separation of Church and State:

Political/Spiritual Advice



Shortly after taking office as governor in 2006, Sarah Palin sent an e-mail message to Paul E. Riley, her former pastor in the Assembly of God Church, which her family began attending when she was a youth. She needed spiritual advice in how to do her new job, said Mr. Riley, who is 78 and retired from the church.

“She asked for a biblical example of people who were great leaders and what was the secret of their leadership,” Mr. Riley said.

He wrote back that she should read again from the Old Testament the story of Esther, a beauty queen who became a real one, gaining the king’s ear to avert the slaughter of the Jews and vanquish their enemies. When Esther is called to serve, God grants her a strength she never knew she had.

Mr. Riley said he thought Ms. Palin had lived out the advice as governor, and would now do so again as the Republican Party’s vice-presidential nominee.


State Paid for Trip to Religious Master's Commission Graduation



Gov. Sarah Palin used state funds in June when she traveled from Juneau to Wasilla to speak to graduating evangelical students and urge them to fan out through Alaska "to make sure God's will be done here."

State records show that Palin submitted a travel authorization for a quick round-trip visit to attend the June 8 graduation of the Master's Commission program (see below) at the Wasilla Assembly of God, the church where she was baptized at age 12. The only other item on the agenda for that trip was a "One Lord Sunday" service involving a network of Mat-Su Christian churches earlier that morning at the Wasilla sports complex.

"What I need to do is strike a deal with you guys as you go out throughout Alaska -- I can do my part in doing things like working really, really hard to get a natural gas pipeline." Palin said. "Pray about that also. I think God's will has to be done, in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that.” …. "As I'm doing my job, let's strike this deal. Your job is going to be: to be out there, reaching the people, (the) hurting people throughout Alaska, and we can work together to make sure God's will be done here."


Wasilla Assembly of God



Palin considers herself a born-again conservative Christian. She supports teaching creationism in the public schools, outlawing nearly all abortions (even in cases of rape or incest) and prohibiting same-sex marriage.


Quotes from two of Palins' Pastors:



"I'm not going to tell you who to vote for," he said. "But if you vote for this particular person (Kerry), I question your salvation -- I'm sorry."

"This nation is a Christian nation!" Pepper said last fall in a recorded sermon. "God will not be mocked! I don't care what atheists say! God will not be mocked! ... Judgment Day is coming. Where do you stand?"


And finally, The Master's Commission:

Here are some quotes from the Promotional video for the Master’s Commission:



One year discipleship … Training today’s young people to be tomorrow’s leaders. … There’s a substantial amount of pressure on them, so that they are pressed into the Lord… I foresee having Master’s Commission graduates running companies, being involved in government, being councilmen or congressmen, Senators, leading churches


Graduates’ quotes:



“You know this is good for you, even though it doesn’t feel good.”
“We’re spreading all around”
“I want to bring a keener perspective to public schools”


What is the Master's Commission?



“The Master’s Commission, A General Call to Character” is not just another church program. It’s a one-year, put your life on hold, give everything you have adventure that will radically change the way you look at the purpose of your life. It’s not a reform school or a ministry training school. It’s a year to focus entirely upon God and your relationship with Him and allow Him to access every area of your life. It is not for those who want to become better Christians, but for those who want to become effective tools in the hand of their God, no matter where He calls them. It is for those man and women between the ages of 18 and 25 who earnestly desire to be vessels of honor, sanctified useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.


Bold by me.

Your thoughts?



[edit on 9-9-2008 by Benevolent Heretic]




posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 05:12 PM
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reply to post by Benevolent Heretic
 



First, the title of the thread is misleading. The 1st Amendment does not describe a separation of church and state. It says that Congress can't pass a law establishing a religion.

And now here's the important part that's often forgotten: Nor can Congress establish a law to PREVENT the free exercise thereof.

So it is erroneous to expect elected government officials be required to leave their religious beliefs at the door when performing their duties. In fact, requiring elected officials to NOT consider their religious beliefs would be preventing the free exercise of their religion.

I don't think any of the four candidates are going to impose their religion on the country or try to prevent us from practicing the religion we choose. I don't think they could.

However, they also shouldn't be prevented from considering their own beliefs in carrying out the responsibilities of their jobs so long as they don't attempt to impose by force of law their beliefs on us in a way that would violate the 1st Amendment.



posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 05:13 PM
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Does Obama and Biden intend to remove In God we Trust from all US money, remove under God from the Pledge of Allegiance, faith-based programs and the God Bless America after every speech?

Here this is from Obama


But a sense of proportion should also guide those who police the boundaries between church and state. Not every mention of God in public is a breach to the wall of separation - context matters.


source

I guess there will always be an exception to the rules.


Other than this you created a good thread.



posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 05:25 PM
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Originally posted by jamie83
First, the title of the thread is misleading.


I am giving the candidates' views on separation of church and state... How is the title misleading?



The 1st Amendment does not describe a separation of church and state. It says that Congress can't pass a law establishing a religion.


That's not what it says. It says (as I posted in my OP) "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."

The Establishment Clause



The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a national religion by the Congress or the preference of one religion over another, or religion over non-religion.


Thanks, jam.


[edit on 9-9-2008 by Benevolent Heretic]



posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 05:39 PM
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The separation of church and state is a tenuous one at best. Isn't it customary to have a invocation at both the Presidential and Vice Presidential inaugurations?

If this is indeed the case, I fail to see why a persons religious beliefs or convictions would be of any real consequence..



posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 05:46 PM
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Originally posted by LLoyd45
I fail to see why a persons religious beliefs or convictions would be of any real consequence..


As long as the person doesn't try to establish a state sponsored religion, and doesn't 'executive order' in any laws solely based upon their religion or spiritual beliefs, then it shouldn't matter what their religion is.

None of the four candidates have given us any reason to believe that they would establish a state sponsored religion or make any particular religion 'the official American religion'. Nothing like that.

Even if the POTUS or V.POTUS wanted to establish one, I highly doubt the American people would stand for it and I doubt that it would get very far with Congress or with the SCOTUS.


Side note - Even though Govenor Palin has given no indication that she's want to establish a state sponsored religion, I do not want to have someone in the White House who believes in the rapture cult . That's my personal opinion on the matter.



posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 05:48 PM
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Originally posted by jamie83
The 1st Amendment does not describe a separation of church and state.


You are correct, but I think this is the common phrase used to describe the effect of the Supreme Court decision back in what... '48, I think? It is inaccurate, but common, much like "nucular" and "Scotch tape".

That one always bugs me, too.



So it is erroneous to expect elected government officials be required to leave their religious beliefs at the door when performing their duties.


I'm not so sure it is quite this cut and dried. Yes, an elected employee cannot be expected to leave their religion at the door, but they can be expected to not attempt to pass laws that are based on only religious beliefs.

Let's use two examples: murder and gay marriage.

The first case, murder is in fact proscribed by most if not all religions, and also by most if not all atheists. So a prohibition of murder is not based purely on religion, so therefore may be outlawed in the US.

Gay marriage, by contrast, is opposed on purely religous grounds. So any law that denies gay couples equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment:


1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


Source

is in fact based on religion and therefore contrary to the US Constitution.

So an elected legislator, or president or whatever can be opposed to gay marriage to the core of their being and belief, but they cannot use those beliefs to deny equal protection under law to gay couples.



posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 05:57 PM
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Originally posted by Open_Minded Skeptic
[So an elected legislator, or president or whatever can be opposed to gay marriage to the core of their being and belief, but they cannot use those beliefs to deny equal protection under law to gay couples.


Story Here

That seems to be exactly what Govenor Palin did in Alaska.
She made sure that there was equal protection to gay couples
even though she is opposed to homosexuality herself.

This seems to indicate that she is capable of keeping her religion
out of her political decisions when they go against the Constitution.



posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 06:00 PM
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reply to post by LLoyd45
 


I think prayer at a governmental function is an exercise of religion. However, if people don't wish to pray, they should be (and are) allowed to not participate. As OMS points out, the wording of "separation of church and state" has a commonly accepted meaning. It's not that you can't pray anywhere you want or have "In God We Trust" on the coins. But rather it's about making laws that respect an establishment of religion or prohibit the exercise of religion.

Praying, or saying "under God" are neither making a law nor are they prohibiting the exercise of religion.

Truth be told, I personally would rather have the "BRICK WALL" between church and state solidly in tact, with NO "under God" in the pledge, NO "In God we trust" on the currency and no prayers or religious statues or other paraphernalia in government buildings or schools, but I realize that's not real practical in today's America.


Edit to add:

reply to post by FlyersFan
 


That's a hopeful indication.


[edit on 9-9-2008 by Benevolent Heretic]



posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 06:01 PM
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I don't believe that Obama or McCain are very religious to be honest. It looks to me like both of them had their religious awakenings in an effort to gain a political foothold. Obama may have been a Muslim when he was a child in Indonesia for the few years that he lived there, but I find it very hard to believe he kept up his practices while living in Hawaii with his christian parents. McCain may have been raised christian but there are accounts of him being rather apathetic toward religion in his younger years. Oddly enough, both of them had their awakenings right around the same time they began to run for office. This is the kind of hypocritical approach to religion that hurts people like me who are spiritual but do not subscribe to a specific religion.

I do believe Joe Biden is a devout Catholic but his pro-choice stance clearly shows that he isn't allowing religion to influence his policies. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, seems to be pretty much "in the tank" for God and i've seen video's where she has downright scared me with some of her rhetoric. Is God really going to see that oil pipeline through if Alaskans pray hard enough? Regardless of what video's i've seen and what her pastor has said, i'll wait to see what she actually says in an interview.



posted on Sep, 9 2008 @ 06:05 PM
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reply to post by FlyersFan
 


Good on her!

I'm not sure, but I think it is not OK for States to restrict freedoms and protections that are in the US Constitution, so I'm not so sure about the advisory vote:


On Dec. 20, Palin signed a bill that calls for an advisory vote on whether there should be a constitutional amendment denying benefits to same-sex couples. The vote, set for a special election on April 3, will be nonbinding but is intended to help guide legislators, Palin has said.


Same Source

but she definitely shows potential.



posted on Sep, 12 2008 @ 10:05 AM
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I'm not seeing a very thorough inspection on the subject in this thread.

Let's add some items for review, shall we?

OBAMA:






Obama Breaks 'God Talk' Tradition

The junior Illinois senator stood in the pulpit of a Pentecostal church Sunday to challenge the partisan religious perception by telling some 4,000 worshippers that faith “plays every role” in his life.

“It’s what keeps me grounded. It’s what keeps my eyes set on the greatest of heights,” Obama told members of the Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, S.C., according to The Associated Press.

Faith, he said, is “what propels me to do what I do and when I am down it’s what lifts me up.”



Continuing:




...God “is with us and He wants us to do the right thing,”...

...When people work together, there is “nothing that can stop us because that’s God’s intention.”...

...Obama concluded Sunday’s address from the pulpit by asking the members of Redemption church to pray for him and his family to remain on the right path....

“Sometimes you can become fearful, you can become vain, sometimes you can seek power for power’s sake,” Obama confessed, according to NBC. “Pray that I can be an instrument of God,” he pleaded.



Read that again: "PRAY THAT I CAN BE AN INSTRUMENT OF GOD".

And:






Obama Reaches Out To Religious Voters: Senator Has Made Religion A Signature Part Of His Campaign

Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, has made religion a signature part of his campaign through his own public appearances in places where Democrats rarely venture, and a faith-based voter mobilization, topped by forums in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that could prove key to organizing.

"I don't think a Democratic presidential candidate has come close to doing anything like this before," said Mark Silk, director of the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. "If you are going to parse the different dimensions of how a presidential candidate does religion, he's doing them all."



See also, Barack Obama makes a pitch in Zanesville, OH, today to expand President Bush's faith based programs, while affirming his belief in the separation between church and state. .... M'kay...


And:




First of all, faith would play a major and not a minor role. Building on the Bush Administration's faith-based initiatives, Obama plans to establish a new and improved and more powerful Council that will be "a critical part" of his administration, either at cabinet-level or directly under his own supervision.

Huffington Post: Obama, God And Governance



I don't have much time today, so we'll move on to Palin:

Palin

Since we are "wonder[ing] and somewhat suspicious about her commitment to Separation of Church and State", let's throw these into the mix:

From Anne Kilkenny's viral email opposing Palin:




CLAIM VS FACT

•social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill
that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships
(said she did this because it was unconstitutional).

•pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to
promote it.

•“Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby
BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life
legislation

Link



Seems like based on Palin's actual governance history (and as seen by one of her opponents), she's not all that aggressive in governing from the pulpit.


Let's also look at Palin's closest friends:



If Palin is such a religious zealot, then why are at least two of her closest friends of 15 years PRO-CHOICE?

Oh, and did you catch the comment:




When asked what the American public really needs to know about Palin, one asserted, "She's honest as the day is long, and that is a unique personality trait for a politician these days."

Link.



Compare that to Obama's "people clinging to their guns and religion" comment and the other items I've posted about him above.


[edit on 12-9-2008 by loam]



posted on Sep, 12 2008 @ 10:17 AM
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Originally posted by The Cyfre
I don't believe that Obama or McCain are very religious to be honest.


Obama's been a Christian and attending church regularly for over 20 years. He just believes in a strong separation between religion and government. He was never a Muslim.


McCain has shown that he's not very "Christian-like" in my opinion. He has stated that he's Episcopalian and Baptist, but his religion is his own business and I don't care about it. What I care about is how he might use his religion to legislate his religious beliefs.

For 17 years, he has said that he would overturn Roe v Wade but doesn't want to force women to get illegal abortions.



A spokesman said that McCain “has a 17-year voting record of supporting efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade. He does that currently, and will continue to do that as president.”


McCain on Abortion


Sarah Palin, on the other hand, seems to be pretty much "in the tank" for God


And I wouldn't mind that at all if she keeps it out of government. But she is staunchly anti-choice and said her only exception for abortion is if the mother's life would end.



I'll do all I can to see every baby is created with a future and potential. The legislature should do all it can to protect human life.


Palin on Abortion

Interestingly, she says she would CHOOSE life, even if her daughter were raped. So, she would deny her daughter that choice by making it herself, and my concern is that she would deny that choice to every other woman in the country.



posted on Sep, 12 2008 @ 10:24 AM
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reply to post by jam321
 


I wish he does do that actually.

"E Pluribus Unum" is a far better description of America's calling in the world than "In God We Trust".



posted on Sep, 12 2008 @ 10:53 AM
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Originally posted by LLoyd45

If this is indeed the case, I fail to see why a persons religious beliefs or convictions would be of any real consequence..




THE use of religion and state has been used countless times in history to solidify tyranical rule and oppress entire nations. BURN witches, slaughter infidels, punsih the unholy all in the name of god.

WHY do you think people have a problem with
SHIRIA LAW - IRAN...

TERRORISM embodies the modern convergence of faith and "state".

Sharia deals with many aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business, contracts, family, sexuality, hygiene, and social issue.

IF you open the door to a CHRISTIAN version of SHARIA LAW our country will be lost -

different in practice and rituals alone.

Science for one might be deemed UNCHRISTIAN if it contradicts the bible...
THE teaching of biological science might also offend a religious "STATE".
Kids may be subjected to a version of religion that contradicts their own beliefs.


SO lloyd, should we base AMERICAS policies on the trinity, the vatican, the bible, the
saviour alone???


the book - the priest or the congregation LLOYD? Will we elect the religious leaders who enforce and decode the bibles messages into law and practice?





[edit on 12-9-2008 by mental modulator]



posted on Sep, 12 2008 @ 11:35 AM
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reply to post by loam
 


Why great post loam. Not even I have heard of some of these quotes. I'm especially blown away by the "pray to make me an instrument of god". Can you imagine if bush said something like that?

Once again, one wonders where the media is. Their too busy sniffing out all the information on every church Palin has gone to,.



posted on Sep, 12 2008 @ 11:44 AM
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I don't think the passion of one's religion is relevant. Obama has been crystal clear on his stance against putting his religious views into law and he has never tired to legislate his values.

What is concerning about him praying that he be an instrument of God? That has nothing to do with LAW, right?



[edit on 12-9-2008 by Benevolent Heretic]



posted on Sep, 12 2008 @ 11:51 AM
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Firstly, excellent thread, BH.

Jamie83

Secondly, it would be much, much easier today if the Constitution actually said in black and white that there should be a 'separation of church and state; it does however imply it greatly. So to have you (Jamie83) saying 'it is erroneous to expect elected government officials be required to leave their religious beliefs at the door when performing their duties' is simply wrong when you consider the position they are in.

Jamie, you are seriously digging here for a win. When you say


In fact, requiring elected officials to NOT consider their religious beliefs would be preventing the free exercise of their religion

you are misleading the reader into thinking that what BH is saying is not constitutional, when it is in fact very. Nobody would be regulating whether the candidate was religious or not, the issue at hand here is SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. You are arguing a secondary fabricated topic, and you're doing it because the responses given by the candidates and shared here on ATS by BH just go to show more of Obama's electability.

Jam321

Of course not, that would be a clear violation to the 1st amendment of gov't regulating religion. Different topic.

[edit on 9/12/2008 by bigbert81]



posted on Sep, 12 2008 @ 12:28 PM
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I have to agree with bigbert81 in that the candidate's religious preference is not what is in question. To me it does not matter if the candidate believes that he/she will have an afterlife, or what that afterlife entails.
However, I do care how they are going to do their job, and if their beliefs will cloud their judgments. I also think that it is absolutely not "erroneous to expect elected government officials be required to leave their religious beliefs at the door when performing their duties". You have to look at the big picture - though our country may have been founded on Christian values, not all of our citizens are Christians - and among the ones that are there are many, many different denominations that all believe different things. (Have you ever seen a Pentecost debate with a Catholic? I have, its not pretty.) When we have a political representative, that person is supposed to represent the citizens. They need to be able to do this while stepping out of their personal religious belief and doing what is best for all of the citizens that they represent.

side note: GWB has been quoted as saying this:

"I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,' and I did."



posted on Sep, 12 2008 @ 12:55 PM
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Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
What is concerning about him praying that he be an instrument of God? That has nothing to do with LAW, right?


I find it amusing that you'd pass on that and his commitment to faith based organizations as a material part of his administration, and have no suspicions about him, yet remain suspicious of Palin on the flimsiest of cherry-picked evidence.





Well, I still believe it’s a good idea to have a partnership between the White House and grassroots groups, both faith-based and secular. But it has to be a real partnership – not a photo-op. That’s what it will be when I’m President. I’ll establish a new Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The new name will reflect a new commitment. This Council will not just be another name on the White House organization chart – it will be a critical part of my administration.



So, no, BH, it wont be law. It'll just be more substantively represented in the White House than even President Bush managed to achieve.





Originally posted by Dronetek
Once again, one wonders where the media is. Their too busy sniffing out all the information on every church Palin has gone to.


Which brings me to the broader point.

I have no beef with people opposing Palin simply because they don't agree with her views. Hell, I don't even agree with most of her views. But to convert that difference of belief into something it is not, is repulsive to me.

See how equally simple it was to do the same to Obama (and with a whole lot more meaningful evidence, I might add.
)???? I could find quotes or other 'evidence' all day long that would fan the flames of suspicion about him.

The Palin/Religion thing is nothing more than a hatchet job-- a means of opposing her on a proxy issue of manufactured substance.

...and this thread does a really poor job of denying ignorance, imo.

[edit on 12-9-2008 by loam]






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