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Candidates’ religious beliefs are no basis for how they’ll lead the nation

September 21, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

This paper carried an article reporting that a number of ministers were urging their congregation members to stay home on election day because one presidential candidate is a Mormon and the other has come out in support of allowing gays to marry. The ministers taking this position are being totally irresponsible to their flocks and to their communities.

The upcoming election is not just an election for the nation's president. People are also electing governors, state and national senators, representatives to state legislatures and Congress, and dozens of other state officials, county officials and city officials. In many places there are also a number of ballot issues to be decided.

People who stay home forfeit their say in who gets those other offices and how any ballot issues are resolved. There are clear differences between the major political parties' positions on dozens of important issues-issues far more important than what church the president attends or what the president thinks about an issue that is decided at the state level.

If what a presidential candidate thinks about something in an area in which the president has no power is really such a big deal, there is always the option of not casting a vote for president but voting for all other offices. That would be a better option that staying home.

But what's wrong with having a Mormon president? It's not like where Romney goes to church is going to have any effect at all on those of us who are not Mormon. The Constitution requires that the president be 35 years old, not that he belong to-or not belong to-some particular religious group.

And what's wrong with a president who thinks gays should have the same right to marry as straights? It's not like the Obama can change any of the existing state laws defining who can marry whom. States, not the federal government, control marriage laws. The president's opinion is just that-his opinion. It has no effect on the rest of us or on the law.

No one in a position of leadership should encourage the people he/she leads to stay home on election day. Elections have consequences that all of us have to live with. We owe it to ourselves and all the people we care about to learn about the candidates and the issues and to make our preferences known by casting a ballot on election day.

Grace Norton


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