RICHARD CIZIK, National Association of Evangelicals: Well, the candidates often define what those parameters are and shouldn't be, so it's hard to say there is any one definition of what should occur in the debates. Obviously, some candidates will answer questions; others won't.
I think that it's an important time, though, to discuss questions about religious liberty, and what we stand for as a nation, and why we're different from other countries in the world. And so I think a lot is fair game.
RAY SUAREZ: Edwin Kagin, what's the proper place for religion in elections, in political persuasion?
EDWIN KAGIN, American Atheists: They have absolutely nothing to do with one another, exactly as the founders set forth in the Constitution.
Jefferson and Madison were very clear on this. Article VI of the Constitution says in black letter law there shall never be any religious test for any office under this Constitution. And one really wonders just what part of "no" they don't understand.
To ask someone what sin he committed is a religious test. We are, after all, a nation of laws and not a nation of sins. The concept of sin is a religious test; it's a religious concept that our founders wanted no part of. That's why God is not mentioned in the Constitution of the United States.
RAY SUAREZ: Bishop Jackson, is there a proper role for religion in political campaigns?
BISHOP HARRY JACKSON, JR., High Impact Leadership Coalition: I think so. Everyone's values are shaped by some school of thought. And your morals and your religious convictions will found the platform, if you will, for your decisions.
So if I'm going to get to know how someone is going to act in the future, I need to know their framework, their worldview, their concepts.
And so what the people are trying to do is find out whether they can trust the kinds of decisions that this person will make, based on the kind of person that he is today. And I think that's fair territory.
And think about it this way. All of our laws, all of our civil laws are based on some set of morality. We are saying x and y is wrong, as a culture, based on somebody's set of truth. And the great thing about democracy is that the Christians get a chance to talk about it, the atheists get a chance to talk about it, and we decide collectively what the true laws should be, but they're based on somebody's morality.
RAY SUAREZ: Professor Marty, where do you come down on that question?
MARTIN MARTY, University of Chicago Divinity School: Well, I should like to think that these people running for the presidency of all the people, and therefore, when they deal with religion, the two great dangers are, one, to flaunt it and, two, to exploit it.
Flaunting it really runs against most of the religions they profess. Most of them are somehow Christian.
The sermon on the mount, Jesus says, "Don't flaunt it. When you pray, pray alone. Don't make a public scene of it. You'll have your reward, and it won't be the reward you're looking for." That's flaunting it.
And exploiting it is whenever you're taking one segment of the population and saying, "The others aren't right. They can't be moral. They can't be ethical. They can't be good citizens."
So those are the boundaries that I try to watch all the time. Or, to put it another way, I think we should look for more winsome, positive, glowing vision of religion.
Almost all the religion we get on the campaign is prideful, arrogant, exclusive, et cetera. And I don't know how anybody would be drawn to any of the faiths being described. You're being rallied around a faith, but you're not being drawn to the virtues of any of them.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, Professor, you just heard Bishop Jackson say that people want to know. And certainly there is a lot of curiosity among voters. Bishop Jackson mentioned we want to know what your compass is, what your worldview is. Is that legitimate?
MARTIN MARTY: I certainly think it's legitimate, yes. It's all part of it. If they ask me, I can describe how this is going to bear on all kinds of issues.
He has a perfect right to use his faith to say, "Because of my faith, this is the view I'm going to have of abortion or opposite of it." That's perfectly legitimate. It becomes a public policy.
All the way back to President Carter, who said, "I'm a Baptist. We believe in a certain kind of liberty. I'll advocate it." That might even create some problems in foreign policy. When you do that, you know whether to vote it up or down or not.
But when they're really saying, "I'm more pious than you are, I'm more shaped by values than you are, the people I hang out with are the ones that are the real Americans and you're not," I think that's what I'm saying is not a winsome presentation of the faith and it means that any president elected on those terms is going to be president of some of the people, but not of the whole republic.
We have our model in Abraham Lincoln. He said, "Don't claim that you have the almighty behind you. Don't claim that the almighty is on your side. You should seek to discern the mysterious will of God and try to follow it." And that's what we don't hear enough of.
EDWIN KAGIN: Yes, we certainly don't hear much of the incredible landmark statement of President John Kennedy when he was asked about this. He was the first Roman Catholic successfully elected to the presidency. And he made it very clear that there should be no connection whatsoever.
And the people who seem to think there should be some connection seem unfamiliar with the writings of the founding fathers, as well as with the teachings of the sermon on the mount, as has been stated earlier.
The Bible says rather clearly that you cannot serve both God and mammon. And Jesus said that his kingdom is not of this world.
The idea that our laws are based on somebody else's moral code is, I think, fallacious. The government of the United States is in no way based on the Bible. Democracy is not mentioned in the Bible. It's simply not there.
The Bible has a system based on judges and kings, on codes, on commandments, on rules, no give-and-take, no due process of law, no juries, no fairness, strictly the leaders tell you who -- that meaning the priesthood -- and then you do as you're told by the religion.
That's the danger, and that's what our founders wanted to avoid. But we're a nation of laws.
RICHARD CIZIK: Well, we obviously -- we are a nation of laws obviously. And we live under the rule of law. But that doesn't prohibit, for example, the values and the religious beliefs of millions upon millions of people being used to evaluate candidates.
This goes all the way back to the founding. In 1800, for example, posters read, "Adams and God, Jefferson and no god." A hundred years ago, in the William Howard Taft and William Jennings Bryan campaign, the same issues came up.
And it always will, because we are, as one person described -- I think it was de Tocqueville -- he said, "We are a nation with the soul of a church." So given this fact -- and it's not going to go away -- let's learn to navigate the terrain.
And these questions are helpful. For example, what Mr. Romney said was that freedom requires religion and religion requires freedom. Well, the second is an adage of theological truth that everyone would agree, because religion without freedom is, indeed, coercion.
But I wouldn't agree with Mr. Romney, for example, that freedom requires religion, because there are, in fact, countries and societies that are free and are secular. The fact that he said this I find interesting.
And this is what we want to know in a campaign. How does a presidential candidate think about these issues of faith and politics? And we found something out, didn't we?
EDWIN KAGIN: We certainly did.