People are passionately choosing sides on contentious issues such as the invasion of Iraq, gay marriage, stem-cell research, and the right to die, and the battle over abortion continues unabated. Social and political splits fascinate the media: we hear of Red States against Blue States and the “Religious Right” against “Secular America”; Fox News and Air America; NASCAR dads and soccer moms. Is America, in fact, divided so clearly? Does a moderate middle still exist? Is the national fabric fraying? To the extent that these divisions exist, are they simply the healthy and unavoidable products of a diverse, democratic nation? In Is There a Culture War? two of America’s leading authorities on political culture lead a provocative and thoughtful investigation of this question and its ramifications.
The separation of church and state has been a debated idea in this country since it was founded, but it hasn’t stopped politicians from wearing their religion on their sleeves. Here is a list of some of more ambitious politicians that wave their flags and bibles at the same time.
Here are some trailblazers who have kept their religion true:
Gov. Culbert Olson (D-CA) (1876-1962)
Raised in the Mormon faith, Olson eventually declared himself an atheist and became Governor of California in 1939.
Gov. George W. Romney (R-MI) (1907-1995)
Though today perhaps best known as the father of another influential Mormon politician, GOP 2012 frontrunner Mitt Romney, Gov. George Romney is one of the most influential Mormon politicians in American history. In addition to serving as the 43rd Governor of Michigan, he served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Nixon administration. (Nixon defeated Romney in the 1968 GOP primary—a primary Romney was originally expected to win.)
Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) (1931-the present)
The Dean of the California Congressional delegation is the first openly atheist member of Congress.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (1939-the present)
Though he grew up agnostic, the current Senate Majority leader converted to the Mormon faith while in college and has argued that contrary to his more high profile Republican counterparts in the faith, he considers the church’s emphasis on helping others very much in line with the political philosophies of the Democratic Party.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (1942-the present)
The former Freedom Rider almost made history by coming thisclose to becoming the first Orthodox Jewish Vice-president in American history. We all know what happened in Florida in 2000.