By Briana Seftel and Megan Ilnitzki
BU News Service

Candidates’ religious beliefs are a hot topic in the Republican presidential race but did not play a big role in how they voted today, some Boston-area voters said.

Throughout the race, Republican candidates Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum have been open about their religious beliefs. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose Mormon religion at times has become campaign fodder, has tried to downplay religion.

“The candidate’s religious beliefs are not important at all. I’m more concerned with his stance on the major issues like the economy and education, than his religious affiliations,” said Janet Mangini, a Boston resident, one of several interviewed outside city polling places today.

Other Bostonians agreed. “Moral character is far more important in a president than religion,” said Carolyn Markey.

In Massachusetts, a mainly liberal state, religion is not as significant as it may be in other states, said Boston retiree, William Preseau. He did add one caveat when it came to a candidate and religion: “As long as he’s not some kind of a nut.”

Steve Aylward, a Watertown resident, said he wants his president to have faith, but is not hung up on the particulars. “I don’t care if [a candidate] is a devout Muslim, a Jew, a Christian or Catholic,” said Aylward.

In last week’s Michigan and Arizona primaries, Romney won the majority of voters who did not greatly factor religion into their vote, over his Roman Catholic rival, Santorum , according to Pew Research Center exit polls. While Romney and Santorum evenly split voters who said candidates’ religious beliefs were “somewhat” important, Santorum won more votes in those primaries from evangelicals and voters who greatly cared that a candidate shares their same religious beliefs.

Santorum’s religious views and his recent controversial comments have turned off some voters. Santorum stated last week that that John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Houston speech to Baptist ministers on the separation between church and state made him want to “throw up.”

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” said Santorum in a television interview on ABC’s This Week segment. “To say that people of faith have no place in the public square, you bet that makes you throw up.”

He has since regretted this statement, but his remark still angered some voters as they went to the polls today.

“That [Santorum’s] speech makes me want to throw up,” Mangini said.

Some voters opposed Santorum’s push to push for a closer relationship between church and state.

“I think it’s important that there is a separation between church and state, and the leader of our country has to recognize that,” said Rich Abrahams.

The Republican candidates, with the exception of Romney, have strongly promoted the combination of church and state to some extent. Gingrich supports religious expression in politics, while Paul advocates prayer in public schools at the federal and state level.

 

Religion Played Minor or No Role in Vote Today, Some Voters Say

By: Briana Seftel and Megan Ilnitzki

            Candidates’ religious beliefs are a hot topic in the Republican presidential race but did not play a big role in how they voted today, some Boston-area voters said.

            Throughout the race, Republican candidates Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum have been open about their religious beliefs. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose Mormon religion at times has become campaign fodder, has tried to downplay religion.

             “The candidate’s religious beliefs are not important at all. I’m more concerned with his stance on the major issues like the economy and education, than his religious affiliations,” said Janet Mangini, a Boston resident, one of several interviewed outside city polling places today.

Other Bostonians agreed. “Moral character is far more important in a president than religion,” said Carolyn Markey.

            In Massachusetts, a mainly liberal state, religion is not as significant as it may be in other states, said Boston retiree, William Preseau. He did add one caveat when it came to a candidate and religion: “As long as he’s not some kind of a nut.”

            Steve Aylward, a Watertown resident, said he wants his president to have faith, but is not hung up on the particulars. “I don’t care if [a candidate] is a devout Muslim, a Jew, a Christian or Catholic,” said Aylward.

            In last week’s Michigan and Arizona primaries, Romney won the majority of voters who did not greatly factor religion into their vote, over his Roman Catholic rival, Santorum , according to Pew Research Center exit polls. While Romney and Santorum evenly split voters who said candidates’ religious beliefs were “somewhat” important, Santorum won more votes in those primaries from evangelicals and voters who greatly cared that a candidate shares their same religious beliefs.

            Santorum’s religious views and his recent controversial comments have turned off some voters. Santorum stated last week that that John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Houston speech to Baptist ministers on the separation between church and state made him want to “throw up.”

            “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” said Santorum in a television interview on ABC’s This Week segment. “To say that people of faith have no place in the public square, you bet that makes you throw up.”

            He has since regretted this statement, but his remark still angered some voters as they went to the polls today.

            “That [Santorum’s] speech makes me want to throw up,” Mangini said.

            Some voters opposed Santorum’s push to push for a closer relationship between church and state.

            “I think it’s important that there is a separation between church and state, and the leader of our country has to recognize that,” said Rich Abrahams.

            The Republican candidates, with the exception of Romney, have strongly promoted the combination of church and state to some extent. Gingrich supports religious expression in politics, while Paul advocates prayer in public schools at the federal and state level.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>