Gov. Deal’s trip to Israel shines light on role of faith in politics

JERUSALEM — Gov. Nathan Deal solemnly cradled the cold stones of the Western Wall. He reverently wandered the passages of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. And he was overcome with emotion during a rooftop view of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The governor rarely talks at length about his faith and the role it plays in his political decisions. He seldom quotes from Bible passages in political speeches. But his trade mission to Israel this week forced him to confront the delicate balance dividing church and state.

It’s far from an esoteric question. The governor and his challenger, Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter, both say their faith is an important touchstone in their lives, a moral compass in deciding some of the most perplexing decisions. And for Deal, religion is not something he throws around lightly.