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View Diary: An Illegal Interview on CNN? (39 comments)

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  •  Excellent candidate-specific questions at FindLaw (0+ / 0-)

    I was deeply disappointed in the CNN forum. I expected the most basic of questions relevant to that audience. Similar to your #9, I wanted them to ask, "What is your position on separation of church and state?" I guess the question is either too basic, too complex, or too toxic because it never got asked.

    I found an interesting article from January on Titled "The Questions That Each Presidential Candidate Should Be Asked Regarding His or Her Views on the Constitutional Line Between Church and State," Marci Hamilton, author of God vs. the Gavel, had these questions to ask Clinton:

    Would you continue your husband's legacy, while he was President, of currying favor with religious organizations and entities? Although President Bush has been far more public about it, President Clinton, first, made a point of attending prayer breakfasts and consulting the views of prominent conservative Christians. No one can criticize a President for seeking spiritual guidance, but his actions regarding religion did not end with private contemplation and solace. Instead, he initiated the "charitable choice" programs, and set the stage for President Bush to bring the evangelical Christians to political power.

    Bill Clinton also did more for religion, as a President, than any President before him (except Grant, who tried to Christianize those who were called "Indians" at the time), by enthusiastically signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). RFRA was subsequently struck down by the Supreme Court in Boerne v. Flores as unconstitutional, because Congress and the President had put themselves in the position to amend the meaning of the First Amendment, and had overstepped federal power to the detriment of the states . RLUIPA, meanwhile, has been a disaster for residential neighborhoods trying to maintain their character in the face of ambitious building projects by religious landowners.

    Do you truly believe in the separation of church and state? Or, would you continue your husband's legacy of backing legislation to benefit of religious entities, without consideration of those who would be harmed by such legislation? For example, would you support the legislation Senator Kennedy has proposed that would immunize churches from the government's eminent domain decisions?

    For Obama, she wrote:

    Sojourners Magazine ran an excerpt of one of your speeches in November 2006, in which you stated the following: "[G]iven the increasing diversity of America's population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers."

    Now that you have been on the campaign trail for over a year since then, what conclusions do you draw about the religious diversity of the American people? What is the value of diversity? And what, specifically, are the dangers of sectarianism that would most concern you as President?

    And John Mc4MYCain?

    In a 2000 speech in Virginia Beach, you said the following: "[M]y faith [is] the faith that unites and never divides; the faith that bridges unbridgeable gaps in humanity. It is the faith I would die to defend." How does this statement translate into presidential actions?

    Let me be more specific: In a prior column, I described the debacle caused by Sens. Kennedy and Santorum, who are Catholic, when they tried to give away land owned by the Old Soldiers Home in Washington, DC, to Catholic University for pennies on the dollar. Luckily, veterans were alerted to the bill that Kennedy and Santorum had slid into other legislation, and to avoid litigation (which I promised I would to file on behalf of the veterans if they went forward), they amended the law to at least require submission of bids in a competitive process. Veterans contacted you about the issue, and you stood for them, and against Santorum and Kennedy, when they needed you to. This is a very different attitude toward religious lobbyists than other representatives possess.

    What is your view on federal subsidization of religion in other contexts? We can start with the Faith-Based Initiative. Have you studied which religious organizations have been the beneficiaries of this program, and why it seems to have been skewed to certain ones? Does that concern you? And how do you compare these programs with the pork-barrel spending you have so often publicly criticized?

    As an atheist with many agnostic friends, I'm deeply concerned about the "churchification" of America. I also have religious friends who respect my right to my beliefs, just as I respect their right to theirs. Since the next president will likely appoint at least one justice to the Supreme Court, I find the issue important to address, but no one seems willing to address it.

    Opting out is not an option. Here's why...

    by 1BQ on Wed Apr 16, 2008 at 06:49:33 PM PDT

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