Religion unwarranted in U.S. politics, discourse

Opinions Columnist | Public relations freshman

The United States is a secular nation, and it is time it started acting like one. Religious dogma and ideology have no place in American politics.

Secularism essentially means being neutral on issues concerning religious teachings, ideologies and religion in general. In theory, politicians in secular nations such as the United States should remain uninfluenced by any religious practices or beliefs. Unfortunately, the U.S. has not held true to this key tenet of secularism.

In the American two-party system, both Democrats and Republicans pander to religious individuals in some way or another, despite the nation’s supposed secularism. Though both parties are guilty of using religion to get votes, Republicans are the most egregious in terms of dogma and policy decisions. The Republican Party remains emphatically religious, even in its party platform.

In the past decade, the Democratic Party platform has shifted to be more in-line with the original secular intentions of the nation. According to a Sept. 4, 2012 The Blaze article, the 2004 Democratic Party platform contained seven allusions to God, while the 2008 platform had only one. In 2012, the Democrat platform contained zero references to God. Comparatively, the Republican Party platform mentioned God twelve times in 2012 alone.

In an ideal secular nation, political parties and representatives would remain uninfluenced by individual religious ideologies, and party platforms would make no mention of a God or gods. After all, the U.S. constitution clearly states the nation  should not respect one religion over another. Including God, specifically the Christian God, in a party platform stands in direct contradiction to this—Republicans, particularly conservatives, be damned.

As time goes on, Americans are becoming less religious and puritanical. As the country continues to shift to the left, hopefully it will fall in line with secular ideology. With full secularism, no longer will Americans be exposed to “in God we trust” on currency or have to recite “under God” when proclaiming loyalty to the nation. And most importantly, no longer will Americans be manipulated by the religious messages of political representatives.

The United States is not a “Christian nation,” nor is it a theocracy. Discourse on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion should not be dominated by the religious beliefs of certain politicians. In a secular nation, if politicians cannot come up with legitimate excuses for their stances aside from religious dogma, they do not have legitimate voices in a discussion.

If one chooses a life as a public representative then, as per the constitution, he or she should be neutral to all religions or lack thereof when participating in matters of state. Representatives can be religious in private, but should not bring personal religious beliefs into play when it comes to policymaking.

When the U.S. finally adheres to the secular doctrine it was founded on, then perhaps it can grow to be the exceptional nation it has always professed to be. As for now, that could not be further from the truth.