Trevor Greenan, Editorial Board

The role of religion in the lives of public figures is and has been a very controversial issue for a long time. One simply has to look at the Republican candidates to see a perfect example of what it means for religion to be directly involved in policy-making. The candidates have repeated time and time again that God made our nation great, and constantly refer to their religious beliefs during debates and speeches.

“God did not create this country to be a nation of followers,” said Romney in a speech early in October.

What happened to the separation of church and state? How is it that these candidates can get away with completely integrating their religion into their politics?

The separation of church and state has been upheld by the Supreme Court and has been an established part of our government since the case of Everson v. Board of Education in 1947. This concept not only protects religious minorities but also promotes rational policy-making and discourages political choices based on an individual’s faith. These choices are often irrational and detrimental to the country as a whole, and therefore need to be eradicated to provide for a rational government that makes rational decisions.

It’s one thing for people like Tim Tebow, who have no political ties, to publicly express their religion. It shouldn’t really offend anyone if it isn’t going to affect them at all. Expression of religion shouldn’t be a problem, and individuals have the right to express their religious beliefs if they aren’t doing anybody any harm. However, when politicians are trying to amend the Constitution in order to make gay marriage illegal, because the Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman, that’s going too far. This is completely scorning the separation of church and state.

According to Rick Santorum, “This is not about gay marriage, it is about changing what is right and wrong and fundamentally changing what people of faith can say and do in society.” In what way does gay marriage limit what religious people can say in society? This not only makes no sense whatsoever, but also serves as another example as to how politicians are directly involving their religious beliefs in their policy-making. There is no rational backing as to why gay marriage should be illegal, only a religious ideal propping up this policy.

And what about the fact that a former candidate, Rick Perry, was able to base a large part of his campaign on ending Obama’s “war against religion,” which is completely nonexistent. According to him, “our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas.” At what point have children been prevented from celebrating Christmas? Is he referring to the fact that schools can’t have solely Christmas-based parties?

Sure, there was never any chance that Perry would have become the nominee, let alone our President, but the fact that he was at one point the front-runner for the nomination and received 10 percent of the votes in the Iowa caucus, which was after he released his ad referring to the war on religion, says something about the direction our country is headed.

Not to mention Santorum’s belief that states should be able to ban contraception. The only reason for this is that the Catholic Church bans contraception. This is a blatant example as to how politicians, like Santorum, are developing policies based entirely on religious beliefs.

We need to reestablish this idea of the separation of church and state. More and more often, we are muddling religious matters with political matters, and this is simply unacceptable in our society. Why should one religion become such an overpowering factor in our culture? It is not only unjust, but it is also unconstitutional. We must stop electing public officials who are guilty of this and find politicians that can tell the difference between religion and the Constitution.