Buddy Roemer And The Church Secrets Of The Republican Party
When former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer declared his intention to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, he told his audience, “I’ve always been a churchgoing Methodist boy from a cotton field in north Louisiana.”
What was Roemer trying to prove with that statement? Surely, no one thinks that Roemer has switched from being a boy from a cotton field in north Louisiana to being a boy from a corn field in southwestern Iowa.
Geography and crop locality aren’t the important parts of the statement. Roemer’s religious identity is the information he wants to convey. He describes himself as a consistently churchgoing Christian as if it’s a qualification for the presidency. The Constitution gives a different perspective. The Constitution declares that no religious tests for political office will be allowed.
But, perhaps Buddy Roemer thinks that active church membership should be a requirement for the Republican presidential nomination. If that’s the case, he ought to look at the attitudes expressed by the key founding member of the Republican Party: Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln often avoided going to church for long periods of time because he felt uncomfortable in the religious services. In 1837, writing from Springfield to a love interest back in his home district, Lincoln explained, “I’ve never been to church yet, and probably shall not soon. I stay away because i am conscious I should not know how to behave myself.”
Church attendance wasn’t a requirement for the Republican presidential nomination 150 years ago. It ought not to be a requirement now.