Lieberman and the God issue
By Ryan Penagos
If Al Gore is voted in as president this November, his running mate Joseph Lieberman stands to be the first Jewish vice president of the United States. Since he was announced as the Democratic Party's choice for vice president in August, the issues of religion and faith have been at the forefront of his campaign.
What is most interesting about Lieberman's stance is his hope to bridge the gap between faith and the state. Many argue that America was founded on religious belief and to bring religion into affairs of the state can do no harm, while others are staunch believers that there must be a separation between church and state.
Unfortunately, the argument of freedom of religion vs. freedom from religion is becoming all too common.
Lieberman stands at the forefront of the debate, along with running mate Al Gore and Republican opponent George Bush. Strangely, Republican vice presidential candidate George Cheney has avoided the issue.
The reason that Lieberman has been getting more attention in regards to issues of religion and faith than Bush and Gore is a result of Lieberman's Jewish Orthodox background. The war that is going on in the Middle East has brought many to question how he feels about the situation, where his allegiance will lay and what the future will bring if he is sworn into office.
To understand any of this, it is necessary to gain insight into what Lieberman has been saying, doing and is planning in terms of his religious stance.
Where Lieberman has gone, his religious rhetoric has traveled along with him. He was criticized for saying that God is the basis for true morality and shortly thereafter retracted his statement. He later went on to elaborate that he is for "civil religion" and the beliefs that bind all believers, regardless of denomination.
Lieberman believes that his duty in life is to "complete God's Creation." This means that he is working for the benefit of the community and the world. This view comes a result of his religious upbringing; it is a translation of the Hebrew phrase "tikkun olam."
Among his views, Lieberman supports a moment of silence in public schools, a step closer to prayer in school. The subject of prayer in public school has been debated, and subsequently rejected for years. A moment of silence is not exactly the same thing, but may still be offensive to some. In many of Lieberman's speeches, he uses biblical quotes and references. Often, these speeches bring thunderous applause and adoration from those he is speaking to.
Whatever Lieberman's other policies may be, they take a bake seat to the issue of religion. If a Jewish vice president is forthcoming, he should be voted in based on his policies and capabilities, not because of his faith.
There are a number of important sites on the internet that will help bring light, or at least separate viewpoints, onto Lieberman and religion in 2000.
·Salon.com's Joseph Lieberman Directory (http://www.salon.com/directory/topics/joseph_
lieberman/index.html) - Salon.com is one of the internet's most well known media companies, including an extensive news section. The index for Joseph Lieberman includes all articles pertaining to Lieberman, filed by date as well as links to related topics such as Al Gore and Judaism.
·Anti-Defamation League (www.adl.org) - The ADL has always been a major opposing force to anti-Semitism and has always stood behind the idea of freedom of religion. Throughout the span of the campaign, the ADL has strongly criticized Senator Lieberman's emphasis on religion. There are numerous articles and stories about religious freedom, the views of the ADL and much more.
·American Atheists (www.atheists.org) - American Atheists is a civil rights group dedicated to Atheists and has been a strong proponent for the separation of church and state for nearly forty years. They urge visitors to contact Lieberman and other political avenues to speak out about the separation of church and state.
·Beliefnet (www.beliefnet.com) - This site is a source of spirituality, religion and morality on the internet. Within the site, you can find over 50 articles in reference to Lieberman as well as a message board (albeit a sparse board). Not only can information on Lieberman be obtained, but also for different religions, different spiritual trains of thought, related news, morality and culture.
·Issues2000 (www.issues2000.org) - There is no better way to find out a candidate's views than from Issues2000. Did you know that Chrisitan Right leaders consider Lieberman an ally? Tidbits of information such as that can be found quite easily with topics ranging from principles and values to tax reform.
The following are a few integral articles to read regarding the Lieberman debate.
"Controversy Is Senator Joe Lieberman's emphasis on religion bad for America?" (http://www.prospect.org/controversy/lieberma
n/) - This is a debate forum hosted by The American Prospect to discuss the Lieberman church and state controversy. Five debaters have gone for three rounds on the subject with interesting results. There is also a link to an online forum where visitors can post their own views as well as read those of others.
"Senator Lieberman: God and Politics" (www.etherzone.com/blum090100.html) - This article throws more questions into the fray and provides the reader with things to think about in relation to why Lieberman was chosen by Gore, the idea of separation of church and state and the historical context of the issue.
"Beware Lieberman" (www2.50megs.com/ickenews/asia/Israel/0811
00a.html www.davidicke.com) - This story comes from an Isreali news site. It provides a little dirt and probably unknown information about Lieberman. The information may be disheartening to some. It is definitely and interesting article.