Religion and Politics ’08: Tom Tancredo
University of Northern Colorado, B.A., 1968
Formally withdrew candidacy December 20, 2007.
Formally declared candidacy April 2, 2007.
U.S. Representative from Colorado, 1999-present
Secretary of Education Regional Representative, 1981-1992
Colorado State Legislature, 1976-1981
Director, Independence Institute, 1993-1998
Teacher, Drake Junior High School
Spouse: Jackie Tancredo
Children: Ray Tancredo, Randy Tancredo
Raised in Denver by Italian parents, Tancredo was a practicing Roman Catholic until 20 years ago when a “hole in [his] soul” led him to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, an evangelical Protestant denomination of 70,000 members that broke away from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1981. He has since been outspoken in affirming his faith and its influence on his political views, most notably his opposition to abortion rights and stem cell research.
In an interview with National Public Radio in 2005, Tancredo recalled two instances where his religious faith strengthened him as both a public official and a private person. One instance was the aftermath of the Columbine high school shootings, which took place in his congressional district. Tancredo said that “the Grace of God” enabled him to cope with the tragedy and reach out to the community to help others heal as well.
Another instance was the war and genocide in Sudan, an issue he felt compelled toward because of his local congregation. Tancredo says that he has “certainly done things in Congress … because of my relationship to God,” including joining the congressional International Relations Committee and Africa Subcommittee and authoring the Sudan Peace Act.
Tancredo is a member of the Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo., which is “affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.” He says he attends services “every week I am home.”
Nearly a quarter of all U.S. presidents have been Presbyterians. If elected, Tancredo would be the 11th Presbyterian president but the first from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
On The Issues
Abortion Tancredo says that he has “always maintained a deeply held conviction that abortion compromises the sanctity of human life.” He has called Roe v. Wade “a scar on the moral and intellectual history of the country.” He also believes, however, that overturning Roe “would merely permit and not require states to prohibit abortion.” Tancredo favors public education projects that would more robustly preserve life and the rights of the unborn. Compare McCain and Obama
Church and State Tancredo has said that because “the history of this nation was written by white Christian men,” religion generally – and Christianity in particular – form “the culture out of which we spring” and should not be driven from the realm of politics. Tancredo laments the behavior of “activist judges” that “rip[s] democracy from the hands of the people on issues they most want their voices heard,” including the role of religion in public life. He also strongly supports allowing prayer in schools, an issue he has pushed in both Congress and the Department of Education. Compare McCain and Obama
>Death Penalty According to his policy director, Alan Moore, “Congressman Tancredo supports the death penalty,” and his voting record tends to bear this out. In 2004, for example, Tancredo co-sponsored a bill stating that those who commit “terrorist offense[s] … shall be punished by death.” Compare McCain and Obama
Education Tancredo believes that “education control is best left in the hands of parents” and supports implementing a “no-strings-attached” voucher system to provide parents with the ability to chose schools. He also stresses the importance of children pursuing a traditional curriculum and the need for close parental involvement in educational development. He has criticized the No Child Left Behind Act for constraining school districts’ abilities to address local-level educational needs. Compare McCain and Obama
Environment Tancredo has said, “I have no doubt that global warming exists,” but has also suggested that scientists are split on the question of whether humans are responsible for it. In his home state of Colorado, he has taken an active role in enacting policies to help protect the environment. Compare McCain and Obama
Faith-Based Initiatives Tancredo says religious- and faith-based organizations should be designated with the same tax-free status as organizations that are nonreligious in nature. Compare McCain and Obama
Gay Marriage Tancredo has stated that “federalism concerns make a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage an avenue of last resort.” Nonetheless, he says he favors an amendment that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman because there is no alternative legal recourse. He says that the state’s sole interest in marriage is procreation because “population is power.” Compare McCain and Obama
Health Care Tancredo has argued that tort reform and immigration control would free up billions of dollars to expand health care coverage. He is wary of the government providing coverage because “national health plans increase costs and decrease quality.” Compare McCain and Obama
Immigration Tancredo has made the immigration “phenomenon” the signature issue of his campaign, staunchly supporting the construction of a 2,000-mile fence along the border with Mexico. He opposed the failed McCain-Kennedy bill because it would have provided “blanket amnesty” to illegal immigrants. His views on other issues, such as health care, national security, prisons, education and the environment, are largely derived from his concern for controlling the flow of immigrants, both illegal and legal. Tancredo says that government should crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens and emphasizes the importance of immigrants assimilating into America’s national culture. Compare McCain and Obama
Iraq War Tancredo voted to authorize the use of force against Iraq in 2002 but has since asserted that American troops’ role should be focused on giving “regional powers and Iraqi factions” the freedom they need to “forge a new balance of power.” He also has stated that setting a deadline to begin “disengagement” will be the most effective means to reach this goal. Concerning President Bush’s troop surge, Tancredo has stated: “I would not have and I did not support [the surge] … and I didn’t [do] so because primarily I listened to the people on the ground, I listened to the generals who were in charge of the operation.” Compare McCain and Obama
Poverty One of Tancredo’s plans for combating poverty is to move from an income-based tax to a consumption-based tax. He says that doing so would create an “explosion of job opportunities and economic growth” that would benefit all sectors of society, particularly the poor. He alsosupports repealing the 16th Amendment and establishing a flat, national sales tax to alleviate the burden on American companies and “put billions back into the economy.” Compare McCain and Obama
Stem Cell Research Tancredo voted against expanding federal funding of stem cell research in 2005 and has statedthat embryonic stem cell research is “morally reprehensible in certain ways.” Compare McCain and Obama