Church and State vs. Faith and Politics
And social justice champion Jim Wallis writes,
The candidates for the highest office, just as all other citizens of liberal democracies, have the right to express their religious views in public....
'But more is at stake than just exercise of the candidates’ rights. It would seem disingenuous if presidential candidates did not express their religious views. If the candidates are religious, presumably their religious convictions touch the very core of who they are and shape significantly their social vision. More broadly, religious motivations are then what largely makes them “tick.” Not to know their religious views is not to know them.
I have said and written many times that I think a good and fair discussion of how a candidate’s faith shapes his or her political values should be viewed as an appropriate and positive thing—it’s as relevant as any other fact about a politician’s background, convictions, and experience for public office....We do as a nation have a separation of church and state which means that there is no official religion or religious view. However, we do not have nor would I want us to have a separation of faith and politics, meaning that I expect someone's faith and values will effect the political decisions they make. As these views will effect their decision making, I don't mind candidates describing the ways in which they feel their own faith will effect their public service. But I find that much political rhetoric is different in kind from what I am describing and can degenerate to someone who seems to have no outward signs of faith other than during political campaigns trying to wrap him or herself in the Bible. Don't they realize that America is not the Kingdom of God and Jesus is neither Democrat nor Republican?
Having said that, I also say that it is important to remember that the particular religiosity of a candidate, or how devout they might be, is much less important than how their religious and/or moral commitments shape their values, their political vision and their policy commitments. If one’s religious and ethical convictions don’t shape a candidate’s (or a citizen’s) public life—what kind of commitments are they?
The On Faith page with the responses of all the panelists is online here: Religion in political campaigns. What do y'all think?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor