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Interfaith Dialogue ( 30 March 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Is There too much God Talk in Politics?


By Mike Ghouse

March 28, 2012

A new Pew Forum in Religion & Public Life survey shows that voters across the political spectrum are growing tired of hearing politicians talk so much about religion. The survey shows that almost 40 percent of the respondents are weary of hearing so much talk about faith. That figure represents a turn-around from recent years, including only two years ago, when polling data showed that voters thought candidates talked too little about their faith.

Not now. Democrats, Republicans and independents all show a growing distaste for so much talk about religion. Democrats scored the highest, followed by independents and then Republicans.

There are exceptions. White and black evangelicals are more comfortable with religion being a big part of the political debate than most other traditions.

But this data represents a serious shift from the past. In 2001, for example, only 14 percent of independents thought there was too much talk about religion. Today, that number is 42 percent. (You can read more about historic trends in this link.)

So, here's the question for this week, and it is a two-part one:

Why do you think Americans are expressing a rising discomfort with the role of religion in national affairs? Do you consider this a dangerous trend?

Why do you think Americans are expressing a rising discomfort with the role of religion in national affairs? Do you consider this a dangerous trend?

Our Texas Faith panel weighs in - This is a weekly column at Dallas Morning News, addressing the issues facing the nation.

By Mike Ghouse, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas, Texas

Extremism in religion has always been repulsive to the general public, but seldom expressed with an equal intensity. Indeed, it was the extremism in religion that chased out many to our shores, to escape from the wrath of the tyrants. Those genes are still alive in most of the Americans who are in one way are the other value freedom.

Indeed, the Americans are “expressing a rising discomfort with the role of religion in national affairs.” They are tired of the extremism espoused by a few among Republicans. Romney is still the consistent moderate out there, but when the evangelicals ganged up and unleashed Santorum on him, just because he was a Mormon, it made a majority of Americans sick in their stomachs. Not that they would support Romney, but to go against him for his religion and to hear, “he is not Christian enough” was disgusting to a majority of the Americans.

Furthermore, subject to polls, I bet the word “conservative” would be one of the top ten hated words in American vocabulary. It is abused to promote the hate and misogyny in the guise of conservatism.

Much of the hate spewed against “other than evangelical religion” has shamefully come from a few Republicans. State Senator Williams called Hinduism names when Kentucky Governor attended the ground breaking ceremony of a factory in Elizabeth town that created 275 jobs, what should those Christian Republican employees think of Republicans? Pastor Jeffress has consistently said that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons will go to hell, as though God has signed a deal with his group behind other's back. Would God do such a sneaky thing? The blatant connivance is bothersome, since no big name Republican has condemned it, should an average American take it as Republican posture?

I draw on two references; as a moderate Republican and a moderate Muslim, both of whom are plenty in supply but silenced amply, I am in a constant battle to get the moderates to speak up and counter the extremists among us who have become parasites on Republicans and Muslims respectively. All it takes is a few bad dudes to give us a bad label, the pew survey is indicative of that trend.

However, the moderates among Muslims have gathered courage and are speaking out to become the representative voices of Muslims. It is time for us, the Republicans to do the same; to speak out against extremism from within.

Either we don’t have the guts to speak out against the extremists among us, or it just does not matter to us. Well it should matter to us if we have to have a say in governance of the governed, if not, we will be routed out like we were in 2008.

It is critical for the political health of America and stability of our fiscal policies to preserve a simple (not arrogant) majority in the house while Democrats maintain their majority in the senate. Let them debate and fight every penny they spend in our behalf. The monopoly of a singular party in all the three branches produces nothing but bad news for America. As Americans of all hues, we need to speak up.

The independents, moderate Democrats and the moderate Republicans will determine what they will do with extremism espoused by Mullah Santorum and Griping Gingrich. Thank God, Bachman, Pawlenty and Cain were dumped long before they were able to place a chasm between Americans and decimate the Republican Party.

The repugnance of the public comes from their exposure to the extremist talks and it has been a dangerous trend since 2010 Republican sweep in. But I have full faith in the common sense of Americans, who have already expressed their dislike towards this trend.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, The Smirking Chimp and several other periodicals. His daily blog