November 4, 2008

Religion and Politics ’08: Ron Paul

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Background

Hometown
Green Tree, Pa.

Age
74

Religion
Baptist

Education
Duke University School of Medicine, M.D., 1961
Gettysburg College, B.A., 1957

Candidate Website
www.ronpaul2008.com

Candidacy Status
Formally declared candidacy March 12, 2007
Formally withdrew candidacy June 12, 2008

Political Experience
U.S. Representative from Texas, 1976-1977, 1979-1985, 1997-present

Professional Experience
Founder and honorary chairman, Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, 1979-present
Obstetrician and gynecologist, private practice, 1968-1996
Flight surgeon, U.S. Air National Guard, 1965-1968
Flight surgeon and captain, U.S. Air Force, 1963-1965

Family Information
Spouse: Carol Wells Paul
Children: Ronald Paul Jr., Lori Pyeatt, Randall “Rand” Paul, Robert Paul and Joy Paul-LeBlanc

Religious Biography

In His Own Words

“I have never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena. In fact, the pandering that typically occurs in the election season I find to be distasteful. But for those who have asked, I freely confess that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, and that I seek His guidance in all that I do.”
(The Covenant News, July 2007)

The profile you are viewing is from the 2008 presidential race. To see profiles from the 2012 presidential race, please go to Religion & Politics 2012.

Ron Paul was raised on a dairy farm outside of Pittsburgh. His parents were “pretty devout” Lutherans, according to campaign spokesman Jesse Benton, and as a child, Paul regularly attended St. John’s Lutheran Church in Carnegie, Pa. One of five sons, Paul briefly considered becoming a Lutheran minister like two of his brothers but chose to pursue medicine instead. In 1957, during his senior year at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa., Paul married Carol Wells at her neighborhood Episcopal church.

All five of the couple’s children were baptized as Episcopalians, but Paul told a reporter at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he and his wife “became less comfortable with the Episcopal Church as time went on.” They now attend services “several times each year” at the First Baptist Church of Lake Jackson, Texas, according to a pastor at the church, where Paul’s eldest daughter and her family are members.

According to Benton, Paul feels the “greatest affinity right now” with the Baptist denomination and identifies himself as a Baptist, though he is not a formal member of a local church. In the past, Paul has identified himself simply as “Protestant” but is now saying “as a matter of clarification” that he is a Baptist, according to Benton.

If elected president, Paul would be the fifth Baptist to hold the office.

On The Issues

Abortion Paul said he views the fetus as a “human being [with] legal rights … from the day of conception.” He reconciles his anti-abortion outlook with his libertarian views, saying, “I do not say that because our homes are our castles that we have the right to murder our children.” He also believes that “the states have the right and the authority” to make laws regarding abortion. In 2003, Paul said that the “solution” to the “ill-advised Roe v. Wade ruling” is for the Supreme Court to “recognize that for all criminal laws, the several states retain jurisdiction.” A former practicing obstetrician/gynecologist, Paul states that he never found abortion “necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman.” Compare McCain and Obama

Church and State In a 2003 blog post, Paul wrote that the Founding Fathers “envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance.” In 2002, Paul introduced legislation that would, in his words, “restore First Amendment protections of religion and speech by removing all religious freedom-related cases from federal district court jurisdiction.” Two months after 9/11, Paul was one of only three Republicans to vote against a sense-of-the-Congress resolution encouraging schools to set aside time for prayer or private reflection. Compare McCain and Obama

Death Penalty Paul opposes the death penalty and would vote against it in “any legislative body he was a member of,” according to campaign spokesman Jesse Benton. In 2005, Paul praised the late Pope John Paul II for being an “eloquent and consistent advocate for an ethic of life, exemplified by his struggles against abortion, war, euthanasia and the death penalty.”Compare McCain and Obama

Education Asked during a May 2007 GOP debate for three “wasteful” federal programs he would eliminate, Paul named the Department of Education first. In June 2007, however, he criticized the war in Iraq for sucking up federal funds needed for education and other priorities. Although Paul says he sympathizes with individuals who call for school vouchers – and he supports the right of states and local government to implement such programs – he objects to a federal voucher program because it would lead to “increased government control of private education.” Compare McCain and Obama

Environment In a March 2007 TV interview, Paul said that “there are reputable scientists on both sides” of the global warming debate. He objects to federal subsidies for oil companies and believes that U.S. foreign policy “contributes to global warming” because “we’re in the Middle East to protect oil interests.” Paul endorses a private-property approach to environmental preservation, saying, “You do not have the right to pollute your neighbor’s property.” Compare McCain and Obama

Faith-Based Initiatives In a 2003 statement, Paul derisively labeled President Bush’s faith-based initiative “a neocon project” that “repackages and expands the liberal notion of welfare.” In 2001, he proposedlegislation to “amend” the faith-based initiative by offering a tax credit for private donations to faith-based organizations that provide social services. “Churches should not become entangled with government subsidies and programs because truly independent religious institutions are critical to a free society,” he said. Compare McCain and Obama

Gay Marriage Paul writes that while he opposes states being “forced” to accept same-sex marriage, he alsoopposes a constitutional amendment that would prohibit gay marriage on the grounds that it would be a “major usurpation of the states’ power.” Paul described the current military “don’t ask don’t tell” policy as a “decent” one, saying that disruptive sexual behavior of any kind should be dealt with: “We don’t get our rights because we’re gays or women or minorities. We get our rights from our creator as individuals. So every individual should be treated the same way.” Compare McCain and Obama

Health Care In 2006, Paul wrote that “the problems with our health care system are not the result of too little government intervention but, rather, too much.” The solutions, he argued, lie in allowing individuals to deduct from their taxes all of their health care costs, as businesses do, and in promoting “true competition” in the market for health care provisions. Paul has also supported legislationpermitting individuals to buy “negative outcome” insurance before major medical treatments in order to reduce “the burden of costly malpractice litigation.” Compare McCain and Obama

Immigration In a June 2007 debate Paul asserted that he is “positively opposed” to amnesty and that the U.S. must stop encouraging illegal immigration by providing health care services for illegal immigrants. According to his campaign website, Paul believes that while physically securing borders and coastlines is a top priority, existing laws must be enforced and “taxpayers should not pay for illegal immigrants who use hospitals, clinics, schools, roads and social services.” In 2006, hevoted for legislation to erect a fence along stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border. Compare McCain and Obama

Iraq War Paul has objected to the war in Iraq for having been “sold to us with false information,” being fiscally irresponsible and lacking both a congressional declaration of war and moral justification. He has introduced legislation to revoke the president’s authority to wage war in Iraq and favors a “clear decision to leave.” Referring to the Iraqi government, Paul said that “the biggest incentive for them to take upon themselves the responsibility is just for us to leave.” Compare McCain and Obama

Poverty In May 2007, Paul asserted that “subsidies and welfare” only provide poor people with “crumbs,” while “the military-industrial complex and the big banks” receive “the real big welfare,” further impoverishing the middle class and the poor. Paul opposes foreign aid, writing that “the redistribution of wealth from rich to poor nations has done little or nothing to alleviate suffering abroad. Only free markets, property rights, and the rule of law can create the conditions necessary to lift poor nations out of poverty.” Compare McCain and Obama

Stem Cell Research Paul backed President Bush’s veto of congressional legislation to expand federal funding for non-embryonic stem cell research, saying he doesn’t oppose such research but objects to federal funding for it. The founding fathers, Paul also wrote, “intended to keep issues such as embryonic stem cell research entirely out of Washington’s hands.” Compare McCain and Obama