My friend Kate, of Gourmet Knitting Disaster, sent me a link to an essay in Newsweek by Marc Gellman. Entitled "The Houston Gospels: Reconciling Faith And Reason", the essay makes the case that, despite efforts of the right wing to argue to the contrary, Religion alone is not a relevant argument for or against any particular policy. This is not to deny that religion should inspire a citizen to take an interest in, and search for,answers to, questions of public interest...but religion must represent a starting point, not an end.
Religion, Gellman argues, may pose the question (about abortion, war, welfare, etc.) but Reason and only Reason may provide an acceptable answer that is accessible to all Americans.
The solution for the problem of politics and faith is for religious people to come to the public debates with reasons that an atheist can understand. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. came to civil rights from the language of faith, but he spoke to America in the language of American values and unaided human reason. He believed that racial discrimination was a sin, but he condemned it as unjust and a violation of the Bill of Rights. This is why he won.
Of course, this is all very basic stuff- it should be something that budding young American citizens take away from High School civics class, along with their diploma.
However, in a nation where Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are defined as Presidential Front Runners- then just listening to a dose of normal common sense is as welcome, and perhaps as necessary as a flu shot.