The separation of church and state is described on Dictionary.com as "The principle that government must maintain an attitude of neutrality toward religion. Many view separation of church and state as required by the First Amendment (see also First Amendment). The First Amendment not only allows citizens the freedom to practice any religion of their choice but also prevents the government from officially recognizing or favoring any religion."

Should that separation work both ways? I ask this because New Jersey's top Catholic, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the Archbishop of Newark, says members of the faith can vote for presidential candidate Joe Biden despite the Democratic Party's support for abortion rights.

Tobin, according to an article written by our own Sergio Bichao, was responding to statements made by other church officials who argued that faithful Catholics could not support Democrats.

It's also in that article that the Archbishop, speaking on a webinar hosted by the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, said that he believed, "a person of good conscience could vote for Mr. Biden." He even made it more personal by saying, "I, frankly, in my own way of thinking, have a more difficult time with the other option." Am I hearing New Jersey's top Catholic endorsing Joe Biden?

Not according to the Archdiocese of Newark, which afterward released a written statement clarifying that Tobin "has neither endorsed nor opposed any candidate running for public office. He has simply reminded Catholics of our responsibility to take part in the elective process." Didn't sound that way to me.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Tobin saying he has a more difficult time voting for "the other option" doesn't sound like the church saying, "make sure you go out and vote." Also, the archbishop made these comments not in privacy among friends, but in a webinar, which means he was on the job. The Archdiocese thought enough of it afterward to release a statement of clarification.

If the Catholic church or someone who works for it is going to back a candidate or party, should they go with the one who best lines up with their stances and policies? Since no man is without sin, is it even worth it for them to get involved?

It's one thing when a celebrity like Bruce Springsteen gives you his political views, although some treat him like a religion. It's another when a religious leader gives you his. Hopefully, the parishioner can make the separation between church and archbishop. If not, the church issued a reminder.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.

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