Written by Connie Larkman
The UCC is among a diverse coalition of major national religious organizations that on Feb. 21 issued an "Interfaith Statement of Principles," calling on candidates for public office to help ensure decency, honesty and fair play in the 2012 elections by conducting campaigns that honor religious liberty and avoid sowing religious discord.
"Religion in Political Campaigns –– An Interfaith Statement of Principles" has been endorsed by 14 national religious organizations, representing a tapestry of America's faiths groups.
"We have been hearing a lot lately about the 'war on religion,'" said Sandy Sorensen, director of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries office in Washington, D.C. "But even more disturbing, and potentially damaging, has been the use of religion as a weapon in the election campaign."
The statement –– organized and drafted by the Anti-Defamation League, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and the Interfaith Alliance –– says candidates should feel comfortable explaining religious convictions but should not place an overt emphasis on religion.
"This statement of principles reaffirms our commitment to freedom of religion as enshrined in the Constitution, and our message to all candidates for public office is to set a proper tone where faith may be openly discussed," said Abraham H. Foxman, Anti-Defamation League national director. "But we should avoid overt appeals for support on the basis of religion, or the denigration of another person's views on the basis of religion."
The statement calls on all candidates to serve and be responsive to the full range of constituents, irrespective of their religion; conduct campaigns without appeals for support based on religion; reject appeals or messages to voters that reflect religious prejudice, bias or stereotyping; and avoid statements, actions or conduct intended primarily to encourage division in the electorate along religious lines.
Additional organizations signing on to the statement are: the American Islamic Congress; American Jewish Committee; Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); Hindu American Foundation; Muslim Advocates, National Council of Churches USA; Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF); Sikh Coalition; Union for Reform Judaism; and the United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.
Learn more about the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries. (LINK: www.ucc.org/justice)