November 4, 2008

Religion and Politics ’08: Alan Keyes

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Background

Hometown
New York, N.Y.

Age
59

Religion
Roman Catholic

Education
Harvard University, Ph.D., government, 1979
Harvard University, B.A., 1972

Candidate Website
www.alankeyes.com/

Candidacy Status
Formally declared candidacy Sept. 14, 2007. Left the GOP April 15, 2008. Currently considering joining the Constitution Party.

Political Experience
Political Experience
Assistant secretary of state for international organizations, 1985-1987
U.S. ambassador, U.N. Economic and Social Council, 1983-1985
U.S. Foreign Service

Professional Experience
Chairman, RenewAmerica, 2002-present
Chairman, Declaration Foundation, 2002-present
Host, “Alan Keyes is Making Sense,” 2002
Host, “America’s Wake-Up Call,” 1990s
President, Citizens Against Government Waste, 1988-1991
Interim president, Alabama A&M University, 1991
Resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute, 1987-1989

Family Information
Spouse: Jocelyn Keyes
Children: Francis Keyes, Maya Keyes, Andrew Keyes

Religious Biography

In His Own Words

“The boldness in the assertion of my faith in God is actually a requirement of the statesmanship that I believe is needed to preserve the country. We must be comfortable with the need to acknowledge the principle of authority that God represents.” (Chicago Tribune, Sep. 5, 2004)

Keyes was born in New York City and moved many times during his childhood because of his father’s position with the U.S. Army. Keyes’ parents were devout Catholics. He says that the emphasis on morality in his personal politics is both a product of his upbringing and his “aware[ness] of, and then learning more and more about, the heritage of slavery.”

After serving in the Foreign Service and as an ambassador to the U.N. during the Reagan administration, Keyes ran unsuccessfully for one of Maryland’s U.S. Senate seats in 1988. He has since run for the U.S. Senate twice more, in 1992 and 2004, and for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000, all unsuccessfully.

Religion and morality have been central issues of Keyes’ campaigns for public office. During his 2004 Senate campaign, Keyes sparked controversywhen he attacked his opponent, Barack Obama, on religious grounds. When declaring his intentions to run for president in the 2008 election, Keyes said that he had been “unmoved” by the “lack of moral courage” displayed by the other candidates and that he would attempt to “raise the standard … of our allegiance to God and his authority that has been the foundation stone of our nation’s life.”

Keyes is also the founder of RenewAmerica, an organization dedicated to the ideals of the nation’s founders, with a particular emphasis on what it sees as the role of God and Christianity in society. Keyes currently sits on the board of advisors for the Catholic League, a Catholic civil rights organization. Before announcing his run for president, Keyes was a speaker on the “70 Weeks to Save America” tour, organized by Vision America, an organization that mobilizes pastors of all denominations to be active in civic life.

On The Issues

Abortion Keyes has made opposition to abortion rights a central theme of his numerous campaigns for office. While running for the U.S. Senate in 2004 against Barack Obama, Keyes sparked controversy when he said that “Christ would not vote for Barack Obama” because of Obama’s support for abortion rights. During the 2007 Values Voter debate, Keyes said that if he were elected president, he would issue an executive order to grant protection to “the life in the womb” and would not nominate any judges to the Supreme Court who would not uphold the mandate. Compare McCain and Obama

Church and State In a July 2007 speech, Keyes said that there can be no separation of church and state because one cannot exist without the other. In 2004, he called the separation of church and state a “specious concept” that is not supported by the Constitution. During the 2007 Values Voter debate, Keyes described the “crisis of our moral values and principles” as the greatest challenge facing America, and said that politicians are not addressing the crisis because they “don’t seem to understand that a country that is based, as we are, on the truth, that our rights come from God, cannot hope to survive unless we revive our allegiance to the existence and authority of God.” He has also opposed efforts to remove Ten Commandment monuments from courtrooms. Compare McCain and Obama
Death Penalty In a 2000 debate, Keyes said that “the death penalty is required if we’re to show proper respect for life in the morality that we inculcate through the law,” and that it “is part of educating people that there’s an absolute line you shouldn’t cross.” Compare McCain and Obama
Education Keyes says that banning school prayer “fundamentally violates probably the most important of our God-given rights, which is the right to appeal for aid to our Almighty God.” He also supports school vouchers, saying that “parents should be able to send their children to schools that reflect their faith and values, schools of their choice” and that “we must break up the government monopoly on public education.” Keyes is also against sex education in public schools. Compare McCain and Obama
Environment During the 2000 presidential campaign, Keyes said that global warming concerns were overblown. He opposes measures to cut carbon dioxide emissions, writing that “there is no way to restrict CO2 emissions without making electricity less available and more expensive – exactly the opposite of what is needed in today’s precarious economic climate.” He supported President Bush’s decision not to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Compare McCain and Obama
Faith-Based Initiatives Keyes has argued against faith-based initiatives, saying, “If the government wants to advance the cause of charity, it should simply work harder to get out of the way of a spirit-filled people already eager to do the work of the Lord.” Compare McCain and Obama
Gay Marriage Keyes favors a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage. At the 2007 Values Voter debate, Keyes said that “if we don’t take action at the federal level then our government will have defaulted in its respect for one of our most precious, unalienable rights, which is the right to respect God’s God-given institution of the natural family.” During his 2004 senatorial campaign, Keyes said that “if we embrace homosexuality as a proper basis for marriage, we are saying that it’s possible to have a marriage state that in principle excludes procreation and is based simply on the premise of selfish hedonism.” He also said that he does not believe in a biological basis for homosexuality. Compare McCain and Obama
Health Care When running for president in 2000, Keyes campaigned for a health care system that put more responsibility in the hands of individuals rather than in the government. “We’ve got to take an approach that helps people to maximize the cost effectiveness of the medical care they receive,” he said. “We shouldn’t have government and other bureaucracies dictating to people.”  Compare McCain and Obama
Immigration Keyes has argued in favor of maintaining legal immigration while taking steps to curtail illegal immigration. He says that securing America’s borders is a critical part of protecting national sovereignty. Keyes also describes border security as an essential part of national security,saying, “we’ve got to get serious about the fact that our security must be seamless, that we can’t leave the back door open on the southern border for two thousand miles and expect that we’re safe.” Compare McCain and Obama
Iraq War Keyes disagrees with many of the decisions made regarding the war in Iraq but supports it as part of a larger war on terror versus Islamic extremism. He says his one criticism is that “President Bush put a lot of emphasis on democracy for people in Iraq, when our real goal is security for people in America.” He said during the 2007 Values Voter Debate that “the effort against terrorism isn’t isolated from the dedication that you and I all have to a fundamental principle, which is that it is ordained by the law and will of Almighty God that innocent human life must be respected.” Compare McCain and Obama
Poverty Keyes has advocated eliminating the national income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax. In 2004 he argued that, as a form of reparations, descendents of slaves should be exempt from federal income taxes. In a 1999 debate, Keyes argued that private organizations and faith groups should be responsible for fighting poverty rather than the national government. “Government has botched up the welfare program, because when you enter the business of helping folks and, to put it frankly, you help them without the sermon, I think you do them harm,” he said. Compare McCain and Obama
Stem Cell Research Keyes opposes embryonic stem cell research. He argues that using embryos for stem cell research violates the equal rights that God grants all humans. “If we are enjoined to respect human life, then we must respect that life at every stage, from conception onward … No medical advance, and certainly no material profit, justifies denying the claim to humanity of the embryonic human person,” he said. Compare McCain and Obama