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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Presidential candidates of both parties have talked more openly about their religious beliefs this year than in elections past, lifting a window on some of the values that could shape their decisions in the Oval Office. But the political benefits of such candor are not always clear in a country where most Republicans and Democrats believe in separation of church and state.
A holiday campaign ad featuring Republican Mike Huckabee, in a red sweater by a Christmas tree as "Silent Night" tinkles in the background, may be the latest example. Though Mr. Huckabee's courtship of conservative Christians has siphoned support from Mitt Romney and helped vault him to the top of the polls in Iowa in advance of the Jan. 3 caucuses, his overtly Christian ad has drawn fire from across the political spectrum. [Both men are profiled, along with other major presidential contenders, in the Monitor series "The Candidates: Faith & Values," at right.]
In the 30-second commercial, Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister, wished viewers "Merry Christmas" instead of an ecumenical "happy holidays" and said "it's nice to pull aside" from politics and "just remember that what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and friends."
To some, the spot was no more offensive or profound than a Hallmark card. But the former Arkansas governor found himself defending it against criticism that its mix of faith and politics went too far.
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