Friday, June 27, 2008

Politics and Religion…Revisited

OK…I once again tread on the dangerous subject matter of politics and religion…this time together in the same title. SCARY…

Yet, this article yesterday from Time,8599,1818313,00.html related to the latest spewing of the religious right against the candidacy of Barack Obama raise some thoughts and feelings I just can’t ignore. Actually, the article was comforting to know that there are many other Christian leaders and movements who are counter acting against the last couple decades of religious intolerance, bigotry and outright hatred between various religions and “sects” of contemporary Christendom. The unprecedented amount of focus in this year’s political race on religion and religious leader’s influence is obviously getting tiring to more people than just me. Like this article points out, while 70% of Americans want a moral and “religious” person leading their country, they are less picky about what label or theology that person adheres to…which in my opinion is a good thing. Religious intolerance is one of the greatest mars on our country’s image in a free world. While the constitution gratefully exclaims “freedom of religion” in our country, it also strongly safeguards us from any form of “state religion” which is of great comfort to believers and non-believers alike. I am getting real tired of the media and political pundits hyping on religion as a divisive, hot item in political debate. It is non-productive to solving the leadership crisis we have in government and just further divides us Americans. Just being a devout Christian will not make a person a great President or politician. My personal observation was that Jimmy Carter was a sincere and devout Christian, but was arguably one of the weakest Presidents of my lifetime.

I grew up in a fundamental Christian church headed by my grandfather. From that relationship comes the roots of many my personal beliefs though as a growing and evolving human being I may not necessarily hold to every doctrine or belief I grew up on. To this point I identify with Obama and his desire to take issue with his former pastor and church without necessarily cutting them completely out of his life. But…the roots and fundamentals are within me still…and one of the examples I recall from those early days is that we were to pray for our leaders…whether they were outwardly Christian or not. I never recall any political “stumping” from our pulpit. We had our hands full learning about God, the Bible and trying to keep ourselves on the “right” path. We really didn’t have much time or cause to worry about politics while we were at church. I see this as a basically recent phenomenon…and while I think a person’s beliefs are a part of what we judge about him as our leader…it is very intolerant of someone to demand adherence to a certain creed or doctrine before we recognize their ideas or credibility for the Presidency. I really don’t want to go back to the ancient days of the “Crusades” where nations battled over whose God was going to dominate in the war and world at large. Just read your history and realize how futile this mentality is.

In the reverse, how sad is it that the ministry of James Dobson can now be rejected or severely weakened by this sudden focus on politics. I think his origins and causes he built his ministry on were some very positive things…rebuilding and refocusing on family values, faith and traditions. Unfortunately, I think when popularity and money start rolling in, many of these leaders lose their focus and forget the reality that changes in society start at the heart of a person and or believer. It cannot be achieved by governmental decree…and I never read anything in the Bible that alludes to state control or influence as a goal of the believer. Minds and souls are meant to be won one by one for building of spiritual unity and personal peace, not governmental or legislative dominance. So, hopefully, religious leaders will get back to what they are meant to do…challenge individuals and create community and secure family environments through the local church. Leave the politicking and governing to those who are committed to that. Let’s get back to prayer versus pomposity…and a solid division of roles between church and state.


Bibiana said...

Estoy de acuerdo, Ed, no entiendo, por que en los Estados Unidos, la gente es tan intensa con las sectas religiosas.
Y por que razon, los politicos, utilizan este tema, como gancho para atraer votantes.
Esto es muy enfermo para mi, religion y Dios es un concepto muy personal y privado.
De ninguna manera se debe utilizar como bandera, para hacer campana politica.
La gente en los Estados Unidos y otros paises, deberian tomar ejemplo de Latinoameria o Europa, donde no se toma este tema, para hacer campana politica. Ni nadie esta preocupado por que dijo "fulano" o como respondio "sutano". Estan enfocados en los problemas reales y soluciones del pais.

Esto es muy aburrido, ver estos senores como Obama, los periodistas, discutiendo y buscando que dicen los pastores y buscando archivos escondidos para amedrentar a su oponente.
Esto es muy feo.
Donde es que esta este pais tan desarrollado? Si sus gentes, tienen mentes tan cortas, que solo las ocupa la religion...
Gracias, que no esta involucrada la iglesia Catolica. Me parece que esta es la iglesia que tiene lideres mas prudentes que otras.
Estados Unidos es un pais con muchas contradicciones.

Timothy said...

Hey Ed,

Nice post. It is a shame that personal religious preference becomes such a significant issue in some sections of the electorate. The second we allow ourselves to care about these qualities, it will be the same second that a politician will be prepared to lie about it. Talking about God while stumping or during debates appears to be a kind of obligation nowadays (i'm not old enough to know if this has always been so).

Many people find this to be a good thing, to bring God into the centre of political debate. I, however, just find it sad. In politics, God and Jesus have become just another type of pandering. Not a force for social justice, or an example of ethical purity and integrity. I would be much happier if all politicians were forced to keep their 'religion' themselves (I use inverted commas to emphasise how inauthentic most of them probably are).