Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Faith, Culture, and Politics

A few of you have asked that I write about the relationship between faith and politics. As I type this, Presidential election primaries are happening in Indiana and North Carolina. It got me thinking…

Who would have thought that religion would be center stage in the 2008 Presidential Election?

First, it was Mitt Romney. About half of all Republicans said they were “less likely” to vote for him because he is in the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. Ironically, other social conservatives and evangelicals criticized Romney for not being enough of a Latter-Day Saint when it came to social policy. Had Romney been a Protestant, it would have been interesting to see how he would have fared among the Republicans.

Second, John McCain easily defeated Mike Huckabee for the Republican nomination. This is significant because Huckabee was the evangelical candidate. Many social conservatives don’t see McCain as a candidate that is agreeable when it comes to things like abortion and homosexuality. McCain is the first non-evangelical supported candidate in my lifetime.

Third, I don’t recall a time in our nation’s history when the sermons / theology of the candidate’s pastor have come under scrutiny. Jeremiah Wright is certainly forthright about his opinions. In March 2008, a controversy broke out concerning Obama's long-term relationship with Wright, his former pastor. ABC News found several racially and politically charged sermons by Wright, including his suggestion that past U.S. policies were partially responsible for the September 11th attacks, his statement, "God bless America... No!... God Damn America...for killing innocent people...for treating her citizens as less than human," and his assertion that "the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." Obama gradually distanced himself from Wright. Can't say I blame him on that one.

I have a few observations.

Observation #1: Our country has many issues that need great attention. Consider these: Iraq (not to mention Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, terrorism, nuclear proliferation), the housing / mortgage predicament, immigration, the economy in general, the rising costs of health care specifically, climate change, chronic budget deficits, how the BCS is the biggest scam ever and college football needs to have a playoff, etc…

Observation #2: I don’t have the evidence to prove this, but I don’t think the evidence exists to disprove it – a majority of Americans assert that faith and politics should be mixed about as much as chocolate milk and onions should be mixed.

I have a belief that addresses both Observation #1 and Observation #2. I believe that our faith should effect almost every other area of our lives – including (maybe even especially) politics and culture. The Bible addresses most of the issues in Observation #1 (OK…maybe not the BCS thing). It sometimes may be a little more gray than black and white (Take war, for example. Bright Christians disagree about what the Bible teaches. Some are Pacifists and others subscribe to a Just War belief.), but if our faith doesn’t shape our culture – what (or who) will?

This is a touchy and interesting subject. I would be interested to know what you think.

Today’s workout: 12 miles around the lake. Easy pace -- around 8 minutes per mile.

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