God and Hawaii Politics

Mark Quezada/Civil Beat/Photo Illustration

As Sen. Dan Inouye cast his absentee ballot at Honolulu Hale on Tuesday — the senator's 86th birthday — he was asked by a reporter about the role of religion in government and politics.

Inouye responded that he supports the constitutional separation of church and state and that he felt similarly when it comes to religion being used in a divisive manner in politics.

The remarks from Hawaii's senior senator, confirmed by a spokesman, came in response to a question triggered by recent events putting religion at the center of the race for governor.

They include:

Christian groups like Hawaii Family Forum, the Hawaii Catholic Conference and the Hawaii Christian Coalition continue to be directly involved in local elections, as they have for well over a decade.

Another Christian player has recently emerged, seeking to have a similar role on the political stage. Transformation Hawaii sees itself as a model for "taking the power and presence of God daily to the marketplace in order to reclaim it for Christ. Not just leading it to salvation, but repossessing for God its three key components: business, education and government."

While religion has surfaced most prominently in the governor's race, it is also a factor in other races.

Historically, Hawaii elections have not been totally God-free. But in a state that prides itself on diversity and tolerance — religious as well as ethnic — faith has clearly emerged as a wedge issue.

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