Do Politics and Religion Really Make Strange Bedfellows?
Check out this list and tell us.
While there is an argument to be made that there is not nearly enough of a separation of church and state in our country, plenty of religious leaders have chosen to challenge the separation head on by running for office. Here’s a look back at some of them. (Click here to see my original piece)
Rep. Robert Drinan (1920-2007)
Drinan was a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest when he ran for Congress as an anti-Vietnam War candidate. He would serve four terms in office from 1971 to 1981. A legal scholar credited as one of the figures responsible for helping Catholic politicians reconcile their personal convictions on reproductive issues with the law, Drinan would spend his later years as a law professor at Georgetown University.
Rep. John Cornell (1919-2009)
A Roman Catholic priest who held a PhD in history, Cornell represented Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional district from 1974 until his defeat in 1978. Though he was planning a political comeback in 1980, the Vatican then ordered priests to withdraw from politics that year.
Pat Robertson (1930-present)
The son of a Democratic United States Senator, Robertson obtained his Master of Divinity degree in 1959 shortly after obtaining a law degree from Yale. Ordained as a Southern Baptist minister in 1961, he founded the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) which is now one of the most widely viewed and influential networks featuring religious programming in the world. In 1977 he founded a university affiliated with CBN now known as Regent University, which now claims alums like current Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. In 1988 Robertson left the pulpit to run for president, coming in second in the Iowa caucus. After losing to future President George H.W. Bush he founded the Christian Coalition, which remains a leading voice in conservative politics.
Rev. Jesse Jackson (1941- the present)
Jackson attended Chicago Theological Seminary, though he left in 1966 to continue his work with the civil rights movement. He was ordained in 1968 and officially received a Masters of Divinity degree in 2000. He is best known for his two landmark runs for the presidency. In 1984 he became the first black man to mount a national presidential campaign, winning five primaries. In 1988 he won eleven primary contests.
Rev. Al Sharpton (1954-the present)
Sharpton is considered a prodigy, having delivered his first church sermon at age four. Hired by Jesse Jackson as a youth activist, Sharpton would later found his own civil rights group, the National Action Network. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1988, 1992, 1994 and in 1997 ran for Mayor of New York City before seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. Though currently best known as host of the program "PoliticsNation" on MSNBC, he can still be found guest preaching at churches most Sundays.
Gov. Mike Huckabee (1955-the present)
Huckabee, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Religion, served as Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church from 1980 to 1986 and of Beech Street Baptist Church from 1986 to 1992. He is credited with helping both of them increase the racial diversity of their membership. He would credit his experience as a minister with providing him insight during his tenure as Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2006. He sought the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, losing to eventual nominee Sen. John McCain.