Should faith and politics mix?

admin | 4/26/2012, 5:30 a.m.

Local politicians talk about religion in the legislative process

The Miami-based Christian Family Coalition (CFC) held their annual prayer breakfast for legislators returning to South Florida after the end of the latest session in Tallahassee came to a close recently. The breakfast was held at the Miami-Airport Hilton Hotel on Saturday, April 14th. The prayer breakfasts was officially entitled the 2012 Welcome Back from Tallahassee Breakfast. The event drew a variety of politicians including State Senators Anitere Flores and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla; they were joined bystate representatives:John Patrick Julien, Daphne Campbell,Ana Rivas Logan, Jose Felix Diaz, Michael Bileca and Frank Artiles. Our organization had both Republicans and Democrats featured at our breakfast and that is something that we are particularly proud of because unlike some other groups we are a bipartisan organization, saidAnthony Verdugo, the founder and executive director of CFC. Founded in 2003, the CFC, a conservative lobbying group, advocates on behalf of bills supporting pro-life, pro-Israel and even prayer in schools.Verdugo said the organization is not an extension of nor supported by the Tea Party. Representative Daphne Campbell whose district encompasses communities that include Liberty City, Lemon City and Arcola Lakes, said she did not see her attendance as political in nature. After what we [legislators] went through in Tallahassee and with the struggles that Florida is having, I went to make sure that we got a blessing in order for us to continue working, she explained. Anything that youre doing, if you dont have God in your heart, then it will affect the people. Politicians often have strong personal religious views, however, some believe that their views should not matter more than their constituents. According to Rep. John Patrick Julien of District 104, a district which covers areas in North Miami Beach and Norland, All of my decisions are based on what I believe a representative democracy is suppose to be, he said. If I believe that a bill is in line with what my constituents believe than I will vote for it, but if I believe that it is contrary to what my constituents believe then I will vote against it. In the last legislative session, Julien had the opportunity to vote on the controversial Parent Trigger bill which would have allowed parents to choose whether or not failing public schools could be taken over by for-profit charter management companies. The representative cast a no vote, but it was a decision he struggled to make. I casted a vote that was in favor of what my constituents would want, but it was contrary to my personal beliefs, he said. Nevertheless, he believes he made the right decision. My beliefs are my beliefs and that shouldnt have anything to do with how I vote, Julien explained. Meanwhile, Campbell acknowledged that issues such as abortion, prayer in school and other faith and family issues are all important, but stressed how her constituents are currently facing more pressing issues. The people need jobs and a lot of them are losing their homes and the district also needs to address crimes and gangs, she explained. Making sure that people have those things thats what matters to me. By Kaila Heardkheard@miamitimesonline.com