Five Republican candidates participated in a Presidential Forum in South Carolina yesterday hosted by Tea Party-supported Sen. Jim DeMint and televised by CNN. (Full transcript.) Issues of free exercise and personal faith arose several times during the extensive discussions.
One of the questioners, Princeton University Prof. Robert George, asked both Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain whether the federal government should act to prevent Illinois from refusing to contract with religiously affiliated foster care and adoption agencies that do not place children with same sex couples. Much of Illinois funding for these services comes from the federal government. Here is Bachmann's response:
BACHMANN: I believe in equal protection under the law. And this is clearly a situation where we have seen a disadvantage to children who are about to be placed either in foster care or in adoptive care. And, again, I believe that is one more example why the rulings of activist judges acting outside the original intent of the Constitution are so very dangerous to the foundation of the country....
GEORGE: But if a state legislature refuses to make funding available on equal terms to those providers who, as a matter of conscience, will not place children in same-sex homes, should federal legislation come in to protect the freedom of conscience of those religious providers, even if the discrimination comes not from the courts, but from the legislature?
BACHMANN: Well, yes, I do, because I believe that that is a right that is guaranteed to every American under our Constitution and Bill of Rights.....Here is Cain's answer:
CAIN: ... I believe in the first amendment. So the federal government should not be subsidizing any situation where it's discriminatory against any legitimate religion in this country.....Both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney spoke about asking for God's guidance in decision making.
GINGRICH: ... I think anyone who would not face the most serious questions by asking God's guidance and God's grace and asking God's help would be a person who totally misunderstood the nature of life and who would be dangerous holding a major office.
So, I think -- I would hope anyone would answer you by saying, in a truly big decision, or, frankly, small decisions -- I find myself very often praying just before I speak or just before -- there are -- having -- seeking God's guidance strikes me as being the heart of whether or not you can survive in a world of danger and in a world of temptation and in a world where evil always lurks.....And here is part of the exchange with Romney:
SENATOR JIM DEMINT...: In this heavy load that the presidential might well be, the time comes when the very difficult decisions are made when there are life and death decisions that direct the destiny of the United States, and you've taken all the information in from each side of the argument and you have to finally say to all the advisers, now I'm alone with my decision, can you tell us how you would do that?
... ROMNEY: Well, I'm a highly analytical guy. So I look at all the data and analysis and summarize it and look at it with my eyes before me. I talk to my wife and get her feelings and sense of confidence and comfort. I go on my knees.
I'm a person of faith. I look for inspiration. I remember seeing President George W. Bush and he showed me a room in the White House where he said he looked at the paintings of other president who made tough decisions.
And then with all that God has endowed with your mind and values, you make that decision.....