By Selina Affram
The political science chair said that most presidents of the United States have been members of the Episcopal Church.
The current president and vice president share the same religious beliefs as members of the Methodist Church, Paul Wilson said Oct. 31 at a Hot Potato lecture in the Methodist Student Center titled “Religion on the Campaign Trail.”
He said 72 percent of the American people want a president to have strong religious beliefs.
There are three components to having a successful election to the presidency of the United States, the Rev. Larry Shores, pastor of St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church, said.
He said that if a candidate has religious beliefs, accepts faith as an important factor and is driven by his or her faith to make decisions in office, he or she will be in the favor of the American people.
He said, “Most people act out of one’s belief, and it propels them to do what they do in life.”
He said the people want a candidate they can relate to with similar religious views.
Shores said that the presidential election has more to do with image than religion.
He explained that in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, gay rights and abortion were hot issues, but the central focus was not relating to religion, but political views.
Shores said, “Americans like the idea of knowing that their leader is religious, but image is the deciding factor in voting.”
Image consists of a candidate’s attitude, appearance, views, political platforms and how they affect the American people.
Wilson said the country was built on a foundation of underlying religious beliefs.
Traces of religion connecting to government can be found on the dollar bill.
On the back of the dollar bill, the words “In God we trust” are imprinted.
The great seal on the back states in Latin along the top “Providence favors our undertakings” and along the bottom “A new order of the ages.”
Wilson translates the meaning to be God looks upon us with favor and a new secular religion.
President Abraham Lincoln was not a religious president.
He wrote essays encouraging others to not take a leap of faith in joining the church.
Wilson said, “I think a candidate’s attaching themselves to a Christian religion is acceptable for voters, and as candidates, they check the box and keep going.”
It serves as an added boost to their campaign.
Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, holds two degrees in religion and is an ordained Baptist minister.
Wilson said religion used to be private and not talked about unless someone belonged to a radical group.
Both speakers agreed that any political entity that embraces one religion is a religious tyranny and an oppression of the religious system.
In the United States, there is religious tolerance, open religion to all, he said.