The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Lane: Religion and the GOP

When I was a freshman in high school, I read the book Gifted Hands. The book quickly became one of several contributing factors to my desire to join the medical field.

Gifted Hands is an autobiography by (now retired) pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Carson’s story is an amazing one filled with tragedies and triumphs that have defined, if not caused, his immense personal and professional success.

The book led me to think about several things: my mortality, my career, my goals, my family, and my religion. One of the few things that did not come to mind, however, was that the author could one day run for president of the United States.

But, of course, that’s exactly what happened earlier this week. With the help of a gospel choir singing the popular Eminem song “Lose Yourself,” Carson announced his campaign to become the first doctor president of the United States.

In addition to his unique pre-politics profession, Carson has other trademark characteristics that play a major role in his political views and practices.

Carson’s book is quite possibly the most fiercely religious piece of writing I’ve read outside of religion-based gen-ed courses.

Interlaced with powerful imagery of medical procedures and Carson’s experiences in medical school is his unwavering commitment to Christianity. Carson carries this fervent attitude toward religion with him into his campaign.

It comes as no surprise that when compared with their liberal counterparts, potential GOP candidates place a greater emphasis on religion. However, this upcoming election is shaping up to be one of the more religiously driven in a long time.

On April 25, several previously declared GOP candidates attended an event in Waukee, Iowa, called the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition. The event served as an opportunity for candidates to present and endorse their various Christian faiths and impress upon the audience the importance of religion’s presence in the shaping of American values, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The discussion focused on ensuring that religion plays an important role in American values. Candidates successfully avoided bashing Hillary Clinton and discussing matters of tax policy or trade.

This event is only one instance of the attention being paid to religion as the 2016 campaign season begins.

If I was told five years ago while I was reading Gifted Hands that Carson would run for president, I would have a hard time picturing it but, given his brilliance, it wouldn’t be shocking. But if I had been told that Carson might not be the most religious person running for president, I’d have laughed in the face of the person that told me.

The separation of church and state is a complicated matter. Since the creation of the principle, there has been significant debate on whether and to what degree it has been successful — or if it even ought to be successful.

Religion can play an important role in defining values that are important to find in politicians: not lying, not cheating, and not stealing, for example. But it can also be the source of unnecessary conflict. Religion will always play an important role in U.S. elections; it is critical, therefore, that it play the right role. There are several good GOP presidential candidates with strong religious ties, and this can be a positive thing; if it’s used to advance US wellness — not personal agendas.

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