During the 2016 Vice Presidential debates, the two running mates of the major candidates were asked how their personal religion or spirituality affects their professional lives. Although both candidates share a few similarities in their faith, Tim Kaine’s overall response was regarded as favorable among moderate and liberal viewers.
Mike Pence, who is running alongside Republican candidate Donald Trump, identifies as an evangelical Catholic and holds predominantly conservative beliefs. These beliefs translate to his career as a politician as he has historically opposed sex education, abortion, and same sex marriage. Pence’s opposition to LGBT rights includes the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” policy in the U.S. military, same-sex marriage, and hate crime laws.
Mike Pence has also been a strong advocate of the pro-life movement and policies. When asked about his viewpoint regarding abortion, Pence acknowledged Tim Kaine’s personal pro-life viewpoint but would then challenge Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s position on utilizing taxpayer money to fund abortion, of which Kaine has historically challenged. Pence followed his statement by saying that he believes in the dignity of every human life. However, the pro-life Mike Pence has also voiced support for the death penalty on CNN’s State of the Union, raising more than a few eyebrows.
Tim Kaine, a practicing Roman Catholic, has been said to not only personally be pro-life, but also anti-death penalty. Kaine mentioned his personal struggle between upholding state law and his own personal beliefs, particularly that of the death penalty. Although religiously Kaine opposes the death penalty, he also acknowledged that state law upheld the ruling. During his campaign for governor, Kaine’s position on the death penalty was met with strong opposition. To solidify his campaign, Kaine told the voters of Virginia that while he will not change his own beliefs to receive votes, he will uphold the state law as deemed necessary. Kaine has allowed state-sanctioned executions to be performed as necessary as required under Virginia law.
Due to Kaine’s refusal to allow his personal religious beliefs to affect his political career, many feel as though he ultimately ‘won’ the vice presidential debate. Although many hot button issues are indeed controversial depending on one’s faith and belief system, it is clear that Tim Kaine seeks to uphold the American ideal of freedom of religion. Kaine cites the First Amendment and freedom of religion as his point for not enforcing his own religious views or beliefs as law. This is in clear contrast to Mike Pence’s stances and bills, which largely reflect the viewpoints of one particular faith and group and seek to uphold them over others. CBS News Elaine Quijano acted as moderator of the 2016 Vice Presidential debate.