The separation of Church and State has been taken too far in America and religion should be restored to public life, Mitt Romney has said.The Republican presidential candidate complained that the U.S. founding fathers’ celebrated detachment of government from religious faith “has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning.”
“They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God,” said Mr Romney, who is a devout Mormon. “Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life.
“The Founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square.”
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution stated in 1791 that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president, said in 1802 that the Amendment meant “a wall of separation between Church and State.”
Mr. Romney’s remarks came during an interview with the Cathedral Age, the magazine of the Washington National Cathedral, which posed an identical set of questions about faith to President Barack Obama.
Mr Obama , who is accused by Mr Romney of “waging war on religion” by mandating employers pay for contraception as part of staff health insurance plans, offered a sharply contrasting view on the relationship between religion and government.
“The constitutional principle of a separation between church and state has served our nation well since our founding, embraced by people of faith and those of no faith at all throughout our history, and it has been paramount in our work,” he said.
The President also attempted to brush off questions of how he dealt with people who questioned his faith. Polls consistently show that a significant portion of the electorate believe he is Muslim.
“I have a job to do as president, and that does not involve convincing folks that my faith in Jesus is legitimate and real,” Mr Obama told the magazine.
His opponent, who rarely speaks about Mormonism out of apparent fear that it might deter some voters, said: “Every religion has its own unique doctrines and history. These should not be bases for criticism but rather a test of our tolerance.”
Asked for his favourite Biblical passage, Mr Romney offered a line from Matthew 25 that is more frequently cited by Christians on the political Left. “For I was hungry, and ye gave me food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me,” it reads.
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