Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Religion And Politics: The Combustible Mix

The Democrats running for President took a page from the Republican playbook last night by invoking God and discussing the issue of faith in politics. And after listening to the answers, it seems to me that Barack Obama is the wisest candidate the Democrats have.

Hillary Clinton claimed that God got her through her marital strife and the impeachment fracas. Wise minds, of course, can see through that transparency as if it were a leaking condom. Hillary Clinton wanted to be President so badly that she was willing to put her alleged hurt on a shelf and look past it - and go on into the Senate and maybe back to the White House. John Edwards declared Jesus Christ was his Lord and that he sinned every day. This pandering to the Christian right will ultimately be futile, but it was refreshing from my Christian perspective to hear Edwards say it. Obama made the best impression, however, by saying there is a problem viewing the world in good versus evil, black and white terms. Obama is right.

But there is a larger problem that extends beyond the Democrats' forty-year war with Christian values. It is the proper place of faith in the public arena including the areas of making policy. We already have a President who is a professing Christian and apparently seems to see himself in Messianic terms. The problem is that his deliverance of Iraq has placed his own country in bondage to a war with no end in sight. And his deliverance has failed to deliver very much at all.

I am a Christian. I meet virtually all of the stereotypes of Christians. I am pro-life, pro-gun, and conservative. I'm also opposed to recognized school prayer in opposition to what most think about the religious right. But what is the proper role of faith in politics?

I hate to say this, folks, but the fact is that we're not choosing a pope here. And here's another thought: given the fact that it's a politician telling you about his faith, how do you know he's telling you the truth? For all of his professing Christian faith and opposition to killing the unborn, George W. Bush has begun a war that has killed in the hundreds of thousands. For all of his professing of the Christian faith, Ronald Reagan did not even attend church during his Presidency. And Bill Clinton invoked God in his defiant speech admitting 'wrong' in the Lewinsky scandal, but the truth of the matter is that he, too, was playing politics with God.

I am not a supporter of the Democratic Party or liberalism. But these type questions are personal and have no reason being discussed. Besides, I suspect that everyone - on both sides - is lying about their faith. When it comes to politicians, there is one thing that is even more sustaining than their faith: the ambition to be eternally remembered as 'a great President.' The faith questions need to go, and the character questions need to take center stage.

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