Religious Liberty in Action!

by Michael Potemra


While looking up some Pawlenty material on Google for that last post, I discovered that Pawlenty is an adult convert from Catholicism to Protestantism. That means two of the major contenders for the 2012 GOP nomination have switched religious affiliations: Sarah Palin, too, switched — from Catholic to Assemblies of God, at age 12. Of course, Newt Gingrich switched in the opposite direction, from Protestant to Catholic. Palin and Pawlenty for Gingrich: I leave it to others to make invidious remarks about which team got the better in that trade. (I have my own opinion, but I’m sure that, as with any discussion of a trade on sports-talk radio, there would be loud voices raised on both sides of the question.)

But just imagine a Palin/Pawlenty 2012 ticket! The campaign bus could have the license plate 2XRCS. And hey, who’s that with one foot on the bus and one foot off the bus? Why, it’s Marco Rubio!

No offense, Senator Rubio: As an Episcopalian who grew up Catholic and has attended services in just about every major denomination and even some minor ones, I have no desire to mock anyone engaged in a religious quest across sectarian boundaries. The important point for me is that there’s something gloriously American in this whole spectacle — not just the Palins, Gingriches, Pawlentys, and Rubios who cross boundaries, but the Romneys and Santorums and Huntsmans who remain religious within their own particular traditions. I think the Founding Fathers would have approved of the vigor with which all these political figures affirm their religious faith — and the lack of negative sectarianism with which they do so in the public square. (It’s true that I mention only Republicans in this post, but that’s just because there will almost certainly not be a presidential primary contest among the Democrats this time. In any case, there’s marvelous diversity on the other side of the aisle too: The Democratic president is a liberal Protestant, and was famously a member of an especially liberal United Church of Christ congregation in Chicago; the Democratic Senate majority leader is a Mormon; and the Democratic leader in the House is a Catholic.)

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