OGDEN -- Do Mitt Romney's fellow presidential candidates have the right to challenge the nature of his religious faith? And should children enrolled in public schools be asked to pledge their allegiance to "one nation, under God"?
Diverse opinions flowed at Weber State University's Taboo Talks, this month focused on America's uneasy mixing of religion and politics.
The topic was sparked in part by the recent labeling of Romney as a non-Christian because of his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The labeler, an evangelical preacher associated with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also has called the LDS Church a cult.
Panelist Kelsey Capoferri, president of WSU's Gay-Straight Alliance, said she has no idea why religion would be relevant to an election.
"I don't know what religion has to do with a leader's political goals," she said. "Their faith has little to nothing to do with anything."
Thom Kuehls, WSU political science professor, said people are free to use their religion any way they like in campaigning or voting.
"If a candidate wants to use their faith, or voters want to vote based on their faith, that's not a problem," he said.
"But if Mitt Romney said it's important for a candidate to have faith, but it's not important which faith, he can't have it both ways. He can't say, 'It's important, but don't ask me about it.' "
Betty Sawyer, GEAR UP partnership coordinator, said people make all decisions based on their values and belief systems, and religion is a key part of many peoples' belief systems.
Alan Barker, an LDS Institute faculty member at the WSU site, said he votes for the presidential candidates who can contribute to the economy and protect the nation.
"There are people of my faith who could run for president and I would not vote for them," he said.
Capoferri said a lot of the religious symbolism she sees in American culture holds no meaning for her.
Although she is a religious nonbeliever, she said saying the pledge of allegiance in school didn't upset her because the phrase "one nation, under God" seemed more historic to her than religious.
"It meant something when they wrote it because they shared similar beliefs," she said. "I don't think it has as much meaning anymore, at least for me."
Kuehls pointed out that God is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.
"They intended to create a government based on secular principles," he said.
Moderator Lonald Wishom, a political science major and WSU student senator, brought up the topic of civil rights versus religious beliefs, noting that some consider abortion and gay marriage to be civil rights issues, while others consider them religious issues.
Steve Olsen, chairman of the Weber County Democratic Party, said he will always believe unborn life is sacred and will not support abortion except in cases of child rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger.
Capoferri supports letting people make their own choices.
"Is it your business?" she said. "If you are not considering being in a gay marriage or having an abortion, you shouldn't be making decisions. It's really not your business."
In the end, all panelists seemed to agree that free speech and shared opinions make this nation what it is.
"We are Americans," Olsen said, "and we have way more in common than we have separating us."