More and more people are asking why the presidential debates are not
asking the right questions. Or at least certain categories of them,
which seem to be off limits.

Like issues that are important to moral conservatives.

The questions he chose, and they were all of [moderator
Tom Brokaw’s] choosing, predictably precluded the social, cultural, and
moral issues—abortion, same-sex marriage, the judicial usurpation of
politics—that have real traction with McCain’s base. Not that McCain
seems to understand his base, or else he could easily have moved the
discussion in those directions.

That’s another question people are asking…..since candidates
typically use any question whatsoever to launch into whatever issues
and talking points they want to make. Why isn’t McCain raising these
social, cultural and moral issues himself somehow?

All the particulars implied in the familiar, and true,
assertion that Obama is an extreme liberal are legitimate, and urgent,
subjects of debate, raising serious questions about his fitness to be
president. But there the crusty pol and the personable young professor
recently raised to political prominence were, going on and on about the
minutiae of which health care plan will give more money and choice to
the middle class and who voted for what and when in the fetid world of
senatorial maneuverings. If the election comes down to a personality
contest, and for many voters that is what it is, Obama walks away with

True on the face of it. Let’s be honest about that.

Now let’s get to a most compelling point in this commentary, the
importance of having morally informed voices in the debate, and hearing
what they have to say.

To contend for the free exercise of religion is to
contend for the perpetuation of a nation that is, in Lincoln’s words,
“so conceived and so dedicated.”…Despite the perverse jurisprudence of
recent decades, most Americans still say with the Founders, “We hold
these truths.” And, with the Founders, they understand those truths to
be inseparably tied to religion, both in their origin and in their
continuing power to elicit assent.

This is not to say that the founding truths cannot be supported for
reasons unrelated to identifiably religious warrants. They can be. But
in their origins and continuing power to elicit popular adherence, they
are inseparable from religion. Remove that foundation and we remove the
deepest obligation binding the American people to this constitutional

I participted in a weekend workshop in Minneapolis on “Faithful
Citizenship” that began with a Friday evening presentation by David
Barton, author of the outstanding book Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion.
The talk that evening was on the founding documents of the United
States, and the historical documentation of the Establishment Clause of
the Constitution – the full truth of the ’separation of church and
state’ language and intent by the Founding Fathers.

Outstanding book. Brilliant presentation. Some people never knew this history,
though it formed the American political process. Some who knew have
forgotten. Everyone in the U.S. should hear these truths recalled, of
the place and importance of religiously informed voices in the halls of
Congress and the White House and the courts.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....