fbpx Skip to main content

Should Faith be a Factor in the Presidential Campaign?

Political Party with Keli Goff

Tuesday June 25 2024 • 4:20am - 4:20am ET

Ron Christie, Sister Simone Campbell, Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, Imam Sohaib Sultan, Stephen Mansfield and host Keli Goff in The Greene Space

When it comes to choosing the next president, does a candidate’s religion matter? Should it?

Keli Goff, host of WNYC’s monthly live conversation series, Political Party, dug deep into how faith, religious freedom and the candidates’ personal beliefs are shaping the 2016 presidential election.

In a conversation recorded at The Greene Space at WNYC on Tuesday, she explored the complicated terrain of faith and politics with guests Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem; Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a national group of social justice advocates; Stephen Mansfield, author of “The Faith of Barack Obama”Imam Sohaib Sultan, author of “The Koran for Dummies”; and Ron Christie, author and former special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Is faith a factor in your vote for president?

“I’d rather vote for an atheist than an agnostic. It takes a lot of faith to be an atheist,” quipped Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts. He explains why faith is becoming less of a consideration for him.

Religion should bridge divides, not build them

“If you can have different perspectives at the table, then you can unpack what is really going on, instead of name-calling and histrionics,” says Sister Simone Campbell.

A Lesson on Islam or the Constitution?

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson has said any presidential candidate who was also Muslim would first have to reject the tenets of Islam before leading the nation. “As…somebody who wants to lead this country he must know the Constitution and that we have no religious tests for the office,” says Imam Sohaib Sultan.

The current climate of xenophobia has origins in the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama

“The President as a black man is a foreigner, and Muslims are foreigners,” says Sultan. “The tolerance of that rhetoric…has come home to roost.”

Will there ever be a time when religion does not play some role in American politics?

Hear what all of our panelists had to say on the future of faith and the presidency.


Part of The NEXT New York Conversation series which brings together changemakers, newsmakers and tastemakers to illuminate relevant topics that are redefining and reshaping our 21st century.

Leadership support provided by:

MetLife Foundation

The Greene Space is funded by you.

Make a monthly donation of $10 or more to support us and all the programs and podcasts you love from WNYC, WQXR, Gothamist and more!