In the GOP race for the party's nomination, religion has been a crucial factor in how national audiences have interpreted each candidate.
Romney’s Mormon background has drawn criticism from skeptics, and Rick Santorum’s devout theological beliefs even this week attracted a half-a-million-dollar contribution from a wealthy and influential born-again Christian.
When Texas Congressman Ron Paul relied on referencing the Golden Rule in explaining his take on American foreign policy, however, a crowd on Monday at a televised GOP challenged the candidate with audible disapproval.
While religious affiliation can make-or-break a campaign, none of that seemed to matter on Monday when Congressman Paul invoked the old Christian ethos, “do to others what you would have them do to you.” From the stage in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, religion took a back seat in importance for a moment, as the crowd cared less about loving thy neighbor and were more interested in warmongering and aggressive antics.
In explaining his take on foreign policy, Congressman Paul told the crowd, “My point is, if another country does to us what we do others, we’re not going to like it very much. So I would say that maybe we ought to consider a golden rule in — in foreign policy.”
Paul’s response was prompted from ideas expressed earlier in the evening by his GOP contenders, who by-and-large supported continuing a war effort overseas in the name of thwarting terrorism. According to Congressman Paul, however, that War on Terror has only come from America’s own persistence in engaging itself in battle with countless enemies that have been created by the United States’ own doings.
“We endlessly bomb . . . these countries and then we wonder — wonder why they get upset with us? And — and yet it — it continues on and on,” said the congressman.
“This idea that we can’t debate foreign policy, then all we have to do is start another war? I mean, it’s — it’s warmongering. They’re building up for another war against Iran, and people can’t wait to get in another war. This country doesn’t need another war. We need to quit the ones we’re in. We need to save the money and bring our troops home.”
The congressman’s call to end foreign wars — which has been perhaps the biggest issue he has introduced on the campaign trail — was met with a round of applause from the crowd. South Carolina happens to be a state driven by the US military and the home to a large number of bases, and Paul even addressed that from the stage.
“The military is behind me more than the others,” said Paul. “I get twice as much money from the active military duties than all the other candidates put together. So they’re saying that I’m on the right track. They’re sick and tired of those wars. They’re sick and tired of the nation- building and the policing activity.”
Paul has distanced himself from the other candidates in his insistence that America retires from its ongoing operations overseas that seem to be waged under false pretenses. In reality, however, he explained that this was just as Christian as any of the ideals that his competitors have waged. For a young crowd sick and tired of endless wars, it makes a lot more sense than other notions linked to religion.
Paul also condemned the National Defense Authorization Act, saying the legislation, which allows the US military to indefinitely detain American citizens, was “major.”Mitt Romney, a frontrunner in the race for the Republican Party nod, defended President Barack Obama for signing it last month, saying, “I do believe that it is appropriate to have in our nation the capacity to detain people who are threats to this country,” with or without trial. Romney’s reaction was met with a noticeable response of jeers from the crowd.
Following the debate, Paul explained that the golden rule can be used in explaining much of his foreign policy ideas, not just his notion of when and where to go to war.
"This is why I bring up the ‘the golden rule.’ If we don't want people to ban oil imports to our country, why should we do that to another country?” Paul asked Tuesday from a campaign stop in Spartanburg, South Carolina. "I don't know why that is such a negative term for people to boo that.”
Paul put campaigning aside momentarily on Wednesday, leaving South Carolina for the day so that he could return to Washington DC and vote against raising the federal debt ceiling. President Obama requested that Congress increase the nation’s borrowing limit by $1.2 trillion last week.