Don't mix religion and politics, the adage goes. But if our faith shapes the whole of our lives, isn't that expressed in our politics as well? Of course, says Ronald F. Thiemann, whose book Religion in Public Life (Georgetown University Press, 1996) argues for Americans to stop pretending religion and politics are — and ought to be — mutually exclusive.
As citizens head to the voting booths Nov. 5 to select a president to lead us to the 21st century, those who are also people of faith will wrestle anew with the issue.
Faith and public life coexist profitably when "liberty, equality and tolerance" — principles underlying the Constitution and the republic — govern the exchange of free ideas, Thiemann believes.
Thiemann, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor and theologian, is dean of Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass. He discussed these issues in a recent interview in his office.
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