Local, state and national officials regularly consult with religious leaders as a matter of course. During the 2008 presidential campaign, for example, both then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain led a number of discussions with religious leaders across America to gather input on challenges facing the nation.
Every individual and group has a stake in the direction of government. When values collide, as they do in every society, a healthy democracy requires active engagement from all who seek its prosperity, including religions. Attempts to deny or suppress participation from religious leaders tread on our nation's constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. A senior leader of my faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, articulated that concern in an address last month:
"We must insist on our constitutional right and duty to exercise our religion, to vote our consciences on public issues and to participate in elections and debates in the public square and the halls of justice. These are the rights of all citizens and they are also the rights of religious leaders."