Keep religion out of politics

They say you shouldn’t bring religion into politics; to always separate religion from politics. However, they are constantly intertwined, making it hard to separate political views from religious beliefs. Just look at the candidates every election season. Their political views are mostly influenced by their religious beliefs. However, there shouldn’t be a crossover between the two; there should be a separation of the two powers that rule our way of life. Religion and politics should not be allowed to marry, for they could produce children like the Irish government. Religion can greatly affect how a government functions, no matter which part of the world.

Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old married dentist from India, was pregnant and, after 17 weeks of pregnancy, went into a local Irish hospital for back pain problems. Tests revealed that her dilated cervix would cause the loss of her baby, according to The Telegraph Newspaper,

She asked to terminate her pregnancy, but was denied because doctors could hear “fetal heartbeat,” therefore denying her an abortion. The hospital consultant reportedly said, “this is a Catholic country and it’s the law,” referring to why Halappanavar couldn’t get the needed abortion. She reportedly argued back, saying, “I am neither Catholic nor Irish,” while shaking, shivering and vomiting, according to The Telegraph. She collapsed, and her baby tragically died days later.

Halappanavar was rushed to intensive care four days later where her heart, liver and kidneys stopped functioning and she passed away. This tragic story is a great example why religious beliefs shouldn’t be mixed with politics. This woman lost her life because she was denied an abortion, since religious beliefs were far more important to follow than saving her life.

But this wouldn’t happen in America, right?

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2004, conservative Republicans were polled and 30 percent said religion should stay out of politics, while 50 percent of Democrats said the same. In 2008, those same conservative Republicans and Democrats were polled and 48 percent of conservative Republicans said to keep religion separate from politics, and 52 percent of Democrats stated the same.

However, in 2010, the percentage of conservative Republicans wanting to keep religion out of politics decreased to 40 percent, while Democrats increased to 56 percent. The Democrats’ views didn’t have any major changes, but the Republican views--specifically White Evangelists views--showed a rise in support of mixing religion with politics.

These statistics show that America is, in a way, divided up when it comes to religion being included in politics. It’s hard to say that people want religion out of politics when polls show otherwise.

In 2010, the general public has consistently been against any church or religion that favors any candidate over another by 70 percent, according to the Pew research Center, while 24 percent would endorse a candidate. The public was divided over political leaders expressing their religious faith with 37 percent of the public having said that there was too little expression, while 29 percent said there was too much, and 24 percent saying that political leaders expressed the right amount of their religious faith.

During the recent presidential campaign, Republican candidate Rick Santorum ran on a platform tied to his religious beliefs. His position is pro-life, which includes anti-abortion legislation supporting a federal ban on abortion and the de-funding of Planned Parenthood.

In an interview on Meet The Press, Santorum said, “I believe that any doctor who performs an abortion should be charged criminally for doing so,” and went on to say, “I wouldn’t support criminalization of abortion for mothers but, only for the doctors that perform these abortions.”

If doctors are criminals for performing abortions, then it would only be a matter of time to criminalize the mothers, as well.

Perhaps Santorum thinks women are not capable of making up their own minds about reproduction. They should not be responsible or accountable for their decisions, so their choices are taken away. This private matter should be decided between the woman, her family, and her doctor, rather than an elected official.

This was already decided on by the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. Santorum went on to talk about Planned Parenthood’s “hidden agenda,” saying on Meet The Press, “I didn’t imagine any other organization with its roots that poisonous, receiving federal funding of any kind.”

The problem is that many women depend on that organization for other much needed services like breast exams, pap smears, birth control, HIV and STD testing and family planning.

Santorum’s religion and his own personal beliefs shouldn't be part of his discourse when running for public office. He wanted to change something vital to a woman’s life and her choice, simply because his religious beliefs matter more to him.

Something as personal as religion evokes highly intense emotion that historically has ignited many wars. Pro-life groups picketed doctors’ offices and blocked the entrance of women trying to get abortions. Religious fanatics came out and some were mentally unstable and the outcome turned tragic.

Santorum's religious views energized his political base and stimulated conversation among others, but the focus should have been on the more public issues, like the economy, jobs and education; not what a woman chooses to do to her body.

According to Repro Health Watch, states impose laws that restrict abortion, through waiting periods, unnecessary ultra sounds and vaginal probes, which shame women who consider abortions. The personhood law bans abortion in 41 states after a certain point during pregnancy, because religious groups consider the fetus a person.

Although religion is a part of your belief system, and the temptation to bring these beliefs into your every day life is important to you, especially in the realm of politics--there is a greater need to separate church from state, because decisions made in public office affects society as a whole. Even though abortion is legal in the U.S.A., religious organizations donate tremendous amounts of money to advance their social principles. This influences the creation of state laws that make it increasingly difficult to get an abortion, because pleasing those who fund the big bucks is more important than human rights.

Religion plays a big role in a government’s functioning by injecting legislation on social issues, such as abortion into political life that ultimately affects society. In doing so, America may transform  into a country like Ireland, where women's rights of free choice do not exist.