For the past few days, both presidential candidates have been up in arms about a "lipstick on the pig" comment made by Barack Obama.

People have been wondering: does Obama's comment mean he's sexist? Is he calling Palin a pig? Or is it just an expression that the McCain camp has blown out of proportion?

Here's my thought: No matter who the pig is and what color lipstick he or she may or may not be wearing, Americans have a big decision to make come November -- and wasting even one day worrying about pigs and lipstick isn't helping this country make that decision.

What are the important issues in this election? That's what candidates need to discuss, and religious freedom and other constitutional rights should be at the forefront.

A few weeks ago, First Freedom First (a partnership between The Interfaith Alliance Foundation and Americans United) sent a letter to all of the presidential candidates, reminding them that religious liberty is a core value of the American people. The letters were on behalf of 350,000 Americans from all walks of life who wanted the candidates to remember that Americans have the right to believe in the faith of their choice -- or follow no faith at all.

Here are the five most important principles related to religious liberty we hoped the candidates would consider:


  • Every American should have the right to make personal decisions – about family life, reproductive health, end of life care and other matters of personal conscience.
  • American tax dollars should not go to charities that discriminate in hiring based on religious belief or that promote a particular religious faith as a requirement for receiving services.


  • Political candidates should not be endorsed or opposed by houses of worship.
  • Public schools should teach with academic integrity and without the promotion of religious preference or belief.
  • Decisions about scientific and health policies should be based on the best available scientific data, not on religious doctrine.


Hundreds of thousands of Americans came together to petition our candidates to make these issues central. That way, when Americans cast their vote, they know where each candidate stands on protecting religious freedom and defending the separation of church and state.

So Obama and McCain, enough with the pig-and-lipstick talk. It's time to let Americans hear your stands on the real issues. Let's start talking about them.