Subscribe to SIAWI content updates by Email
Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > USA: Role of religious rhetoric in contemporary political speeches

USA: Role of religious rhetoric in contemporary political speeches


Sunday 31 July 2016, by siawi3


by AirTalk

July 21 2016

Photo: Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson delivers a speech on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Listen to this story 31 min 53 sec

Speech after speech after speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week invokes God or Jesus, even Lucifer was mentioned by former primary candidate Dr. Ben Carson: "Are we willing to elect as president someone [Hillary Clinton] who has as their role model somebody [Saul Alinsky] who acknowledges Lucifer?"

Carson accurately pointed out the many references to God on American currency, the country’s founding documents, and in daily American life.

Elsewhere in Cleveland, a billboard put up by the Freedom from Religion Foundation boasts a Ronald Reagan quote: "We establish no religion in this country... Church and state are, and must remain, separate."

During this campaign year, candidates from both parties talk regularly about how their faith instructs their professions and their views.

At a campaign event in Knoxville, Iowa earlier this year, a woman asked presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton how her beliefs align with the Ten Commandments. Clinton said the issue was important to her and continued, “I am a person of faith. I am a Christian. I am a Methodist. I have been raised Methodist. I feel very grateful for the instructions and support I received starting in my family but through my church, and I think that any of us who are Christian have a constantly, constant, conversation in our own heads about what we are called to do and how we are asked to do it, and I think it is absolutely appropriate for people to have very strong convictions…”

The backdrop to all of this is a declining number of Christians in the U.S., according to an in depth report from the Pew Research Center conducted in 2015. When it comes to the religious landscape in America, the sharpest growth is the number of Americans who describe themselves as "unaffiliated” - now at 22.8 percent, from 16.1 percent in 2007. However, the largest share by far still identifies as Christian, 70.6 percent.

Regardless of personal beliefs, what role do you see, if any, for religious rhetoric in contemporary political speech?


Michael Shermer, Author of numerous books including his latest "Skeptic: Viewing the World With a Rational Eye;" founder of "Skeptic" magazine; and adjunct professor at Chapman University

John Eastman, professor of law and founding director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at Chapman University; He’s also Chairman of the Board of the National Organization for Marriage, a D.C.-based nonprofit focused on marriage laws