Saturday, August 16, 2008
The First Debate...Focus on Religion
Tomorrow night is the first Presidential debate of the season between McCain and Obama. It will be hosted by pastor and author Rick Warren...at his "Saddleback" church. Therein lies my mixed feelings about this debate, and American political process overall.
If you've been following my blogs, you probably realize I am strongly for separation of church and state. I don't believe governments should meddle in religion...and I don't think non-profit religious organizations should be political. There are many reasons for that which I have stated before and won't go on about here. Still, I find it quite ironic that America's first Presidential debate this year will be based on religious views and the candidate's faith.
On the positive side, I think most Americans want a leader for our country who is moral, just, balanced and in control. Because so much of these campaigns have already been about each candidate's religion, their pastors, and the supporters they have from various religions...I suppose this forum will help get THEIR words on where they stand on these issues of faith and church. And with the state of our world and leadership overall, many of us might believe we will need some major miracles to get out of the messy state of affairs our country, economy and culture is in. To that extent we might want to figure out who God is going to support, and who he is not going to be behind come next November.
I say that tongue in cheek of course, because I personally don't think God is going to be paying much attention to what is said on Sunday night. And, I am quite tired of all these politicians playing the "faith" card, siding up to whatever religious leaders they can, and most of the time talking out of both sides of their mouths. After all...that’s what MOST politicians do. I saw the first "religious" debate between Clinton and Obama a few months back...and I squirmed for both of them AND the people that were observing them as they grimaced, sweat, floundered and faked their way to trying to present themselves as THE religious leaders of our time.
I also have a little problem with such a sectarian approach to this religious Presidential debate. While I think Rick Warren has had many good things to say and write about, and I will probably welcome a new style to moderating these debates compared to the conniving and sniping media bigots we usually have doing this...one has to ask why this is being done in a "mega-fundamentalist-protestant-Christian" setting? Why not a Catholic church? Why not a Jewish synagogue? I'm sure the Scientologists would have loved the opportunity.
So tomorrow night the world will continue to be sold on the idea that Americans are generally white, fundamentalist Christians. They will continue to perceive that while we tolerate other religions and cultures, we are very sketchy on including them in our society and elections. Somehow I am quite sure these politicians will continue the rap of how our government is always "righteous" and our enemies are always "without reason". We will continue to listen to these guys pretending they each have huge faith and the inside track on God. And unfortunately, there will be very little content about the REAL problems and issues we should be judging these candidates on.
Again I reiterate from another writing...Jimmy Carter as far as I have been able to observe has been a great example of a true Christian "believer" in both word and deed...yet I view him as one of the weakest Presidents of my lifetime. So...why do we Americans continue to place so much stock in the "religious professions" of modern day Presidents? We see them all fail as humans against the perfect standards of an all righteous God, yet we still somehow want to hold them up to a higher standard. Our expectations set them up for lying, pretending, or maybe at the end of the day we actually FORCE them to make decisions on THEIR faith based on OUR expectations and what is "popular" in today's religious circles. This to me is more a recipe for failure and impossible expectations from these very mortal men. We are setting them up for failure against unrealistic standards most of US do not live up to.
I think it will be an interesting if uncomfortable debate...but in the end I will still be sitting in my chair wondering which of them is going to get our country out of bankruptcy, who will build us a strong defense, who will be most productive towards cheaper and cleaner energy policies, who will be for smaller government and lower taxes, and who will protect each of our individual freedoms in the most effective ways? I would vote for a 400 pound, black, agnostic, transsexual gorilla for President if I thought they had the best chance of accomplishing all of those challenges.