Religion is intrinsic to our country as a means of building relationships and determining truths of human existence. It has been politicized throughout U.S. history to illuminate issues of social injustice in areas such as healthcare disparities and economic inequalities.

While it was easy to identify the religious backgrounds of prior presidential candidates, this election has not been so obvious.

At Elon University, students and faculty gathered Oct. 27 to discuss their views on the intersection of religion and politics, especially in the 2016 presidential election. There were noticeably no religious conservatives on the panel. The general consensus among the group was that a relationship with Christ is personal and informs individual participation in the political process without interfering with political laws established to separate the Church as an institution from the State.

After listening to their interesting and well-informed dialogue, I have formulated my own opinion on the matter. Christianity is intrinsic to my nature.

I cannot separate my political participation from my religious beliefs. Even though Elon is in the traditionally conservative South, it is obvious that the institution upholds the values of a progressive society.

But it is important to acknowledge and respect the spectrum of opinions that exist on our campus.

While conservatism is generally viewed negatively in popular news media, there are different levels of religious conservatism that respect and love all people regardless of the race, gender, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

As a Christian, I have struggled to grapple with some progressive ideologies — but let me be clear that I will not hurl racial or discriminatory epithets at anyone.

As a first-time voter, I have sat through this election full of trepidation for my future. Clinton, a Methodist, has occasionally discussed her religious background this election season. Trump has indicated his Presbyterian affiliation, but has not made it a staple of his presidential campaign.

This contrasts the candidacies of George W. Bush, a born-again Christian and compassionate conservative, and Mitt Romney, the first Mormon to attain his party’s nomination.

Does this reversal of trends signal to the U.S. public that the religious views of a candidate are not crucial to political campaigns, or does the uniqueness of this election elude the prevalence of religion in presidential elections?

This election is monumental as it raises larger concerns on the polarizing views held by people in this country and even at Elon.

Being a member of the Christian faith, we are taught to love people regardless of what they believe because none of us are inherently good. No matter the outcome of this 2016 election, we need to allow people of different religious beliefs respectfully voice their opinions without being ridiculed and ostracized. In this dialogue, faith can be used as a tool to ameliorate problems we see on and off campus.

By doing so, religion and politics can complement and unite rather than contradict and divide.