Religion can be a huge part of many lives and may assist in creating a moral code for the individual. Though religion plays a large role in the United States, it is the voter’s responsibility to vote in the best interest of the country, not of their religion.
This concept is the separation of church and state, which reinforces a First Amendment right to prevent government regulation with religion.
Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase “separation of church and state” in a letter written in 1802, where he explains that religion is solely between man and his God and the government cannot control opinions of the American people. Jefferson said, “Legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
In 1947, the high court of Emerson v. Board of Education reconfirmed the separation of church and state by ruling, “Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws with aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.”
This relates to the government involvement with religion, but voters should also reflect on how their religion has influenced them individually. It may be natural to vote based on a personal moral compass, but if that compass is influenced greatly by religious beliefs, then one cannot expect to hold other citizens to a religious standard they do not associate themselves with.
Voting based on religious convictions alone may force other citizens to align with a religion they do not agree with, which would undo the separation of church and state. Voters should strive to be informed and vote based on reason instead of the political views religion often affiliates itself with.
The U.S. government isn’t based on the laws of the Bible, the Book of Mormon or the Quran. This country prides itself on the freedom of practicing any religion, which requires a government that cannot intervene with the opinions of faith.
This country also requires people who are open minded and willing to allow others to practice faith, or lack of faith, however they please. For this to happen, stop voting with the idea that one religion is better than others. Stop voting as though your moral compass is more improved because of your faith. Vote for the betterment of the country and of all the people who live here. Vote for freedom, and whatever that means to you.