Statement on Religious Freedom
the SPUSA Faith &
Socialism Commission - July, 2008
the candidates of the two capitalist parties involve themselves with
religious leaders and subsequently turn their backs on them, it is
important for us to make observations from a Socialist perspective
concerning religious freedom.
The McCain-Hagee controversy should leave the electorate wondering why
it is so important for religious leaders to be so self-involved as to
have to endorse political candidates. In addition, it is alarming
that John McCain would cater to Christian fundamentalists by seeking
the backing of a dispensationalist preacher such as John Hagee, who is
known for making intolerant comments about our gay, Jewish, and Muslim
sisters and brothers. Such extremism should be condemned.
We see no reason why a hullabaloo arose regarding Barack Obama's
relationship with Jeremiah Wright and his church membership, as we
support religious freedom for all. Obama's pastor was celebrated
for preaching liberation theology at the largest church in the
denomination to which he and his family belonged. Proclaiming a
message of freedom from bondage and discrimination and liberation from
oppression—be it on the basis of race, class, culture, nationality, or
any other characteristic—is a powerful testament to the positive use of
religion that unfortunately led to a negative media stereotype that
drove him to abandon his congregation and to his denunciation of Wright.
However, we are alarmed by Obama's decision to leave behind the church
where he was married and where his children were baptized. Did he
leave because he disagreed with its proclamation of liberation
theology, even though he belonged to the congregation for about 20
years? Or, did he leave because it was convenient for his
Presidential campaign? Did he ever bring his concerns to Wright's
attention during any of the 20 years? If Obama were not running
for the nation's highest office, would he still be a member?
It is a shame that politicians' personal religious beliefs must be
played out in the media and that religious leaders' endorsements are
sought during election campaigns. We commend Socialist Party
Presidential candidate Brian Moore for leaving his personal religious
beliefs in his home, where they belong, and for not preaching them on
the campaign trail. In addition, when he disagrees with the
clergy of his local church regarding important issues, he visits them
in person (as an individual and not as a Presidential candidate) to
address his concerns without allowing 20 years to elapse!
To avoid repeats of the McCain-Hagee and Obama-Wright controversies, we
call for a complete and total separation of church and state. We
do this by supporting religious freedom for all, including Presidential
candidates, but we oppose the involvement of religion in our electoral
process. Our party currently has and has had many clergy in its
ranks, including some who sought the White House. For example,
Norman Thomas was a Presbyterian minister (ran for President six times
[1928-1948]) and Sister Diane Drufenbrock is a Catholic nun (ran for
Vice President in 1980).
In keeping church and state separate, we call for the removal of all
state-supported forms of religion, including those that are found in
our courtrooms, in our governments, in our legislatures, in our
classrooms, in taxpayer-supported public displays, on our coinage, on
our paper currency, at school board meetings, on state flags, on
license plates, in the military, and anywhere else it is to be
found. We oppose "intelligent design" and any other efforts aimed
at sneaking religious dogma into our nation's public schools.
In reaffirming our commitment to freedom of religion, we reiterate that
the Socialist Party believes in freedom of religious choice, freedom
from religion, and is welcoming to people of all faiths and to people
of no faith.