Opinion: Religion in American politics

Jacob Tabler is a junior political science major and a member of the Kent State College Republicans. Contact him at [email protected].

Jacob Tabler Kent State College Republicans

The Republican Presidential race continues this week with the New York primary. Donald Trump won 89 of the 93 delegates, John Kasich claimed four and Ted Cruz did not secure any. The candidates are always trying to separate themselves from the others, and as the race continues, more and more issues will be debated upon and used to appeal to voters. Recently, Bernie Sanders had visited Pope Francis at the Vatican. This visit raised the question of how religion affects each candidate and how they use their personal views to appeal to voters.

Donald Trump, the current GOP frontrunner, uses religion in a unique way. Though he identifies as Presbyterian, Trump has never used this as a defining piece in his campaign. However, his beliefs have affected some of his policy decisions such as his views on abortion. He has identified himself as a strong pro-life candidate, a view which he uses to appeal to traditional Christian voters. He has also used religion in another manner. Trump has been very critical of Islam, so much so that he has proposed ideas such as extra police monitoring in Muslim communities and identification badges for all Muslims. He has also used this to appeal to voters who are weary of Muslims in the face of terror attacks carried out by extremists.

Sen. Ted Cruz uses religion in another manner. Cruz identifies as a Baptist and constantly includes the importance of God in his rhetoric. He attributes his policy ideas to be strongly influenced by the morals he learned as a Christian. This strategy makes him very popular among Evangelical voters. These voters believe in strong Christian morals and very traditional values. His beliefs also influence his conservative values. He has been outspoken about drastically reducing the size of the government and repealing Obamacare. His reasoning is that individual rights come from God and therefore surpass government rules and regulation.

Kasich also uses religion to appeal to voters on the campaign trail. However, the Ohio governor appeals to religious voters in a much more positive manner. Kasich identifies as a member of the Anglican Church and reminds people that they are made uniquely in the eyes of God. He reasons that this individuality is valuable and must be utilized to its fullest potential. He also speaks of how important God is in his life but takes a much more moderate stance on social issues. For example, he has mentioned he personally does not support same sex marriage, but says he will gladly abide by the laws set in place. He attributes his positive message to his faith in God but differs his personal views from some of his policy decisions.

Overall each candidate uses their religious beliefs to identify with their targeted voters. While religious views may not be a defining factor in this race it most certainly has its place. The extent to which it really plays a part in how voters decide is yet to be seen. It will most certainly add to an already exciting campaign trail. 

The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Kent State College Republicans as an organization.