God and Hawaii Politics09/10/2010
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.
A new group called Island Values urging voters to reject Hannemann's primary opponent, Neil Abercrombie, because his values are "unacceptable" to Christians. The group's deputy treasurer, Ken Wong, has been linked to the Hannemann campaign, although Hannemann has disavowed Island Value's ads and fliers.
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.