Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Church and State vs. Faith and Politics

Over at On Faith, the folks at Newsweek and The Washington Post are offering comments by a variety of panelists on whether presidential candidates should talk about their religious convictions. For example, Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf 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.

And social justice champion Jim Wallis writes,
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....

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?
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?

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


  • At 1/26/2007 7:53 AM, Blogger Robin D. said…

    I find that I am more disappointed to find out what faith or denomination politicians have than I was in the past.

    I as a current Episcopalian I was proud to learn that Gerald Ford was an Episcopalian.

    As a past Methodist I find that was disappointed to find out that George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were both Methodists.

    Yet underneath that disappointment there is a feeling of gladness, not despair.

    I was glad when I heard that Bill went to his pastor for counseling.

    I was glad to learn that George also spends time talking to his pastor.

    Having Faith exist in the lives of men who shape the destiny of an entire nation preserves Hope even when those men fail.

  • At 1/26/2007 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Why does denomination matter? Faith in God is what it is. Religion provides an anvenue to follow your faith.

    I find that it is more important to know that a politician has faith in the Lord and has the courage to follow that faith. I am more disappointed to know of their public sins rather than what denomination they are when they commit those sins.

    Too, it is disappointing when a politician uses his/her "faith" or religion to gain popularity and power. Was Clinton sincere when he sought counseling from his minister? If he was a true man of faith, would he have found it so easy to sin in the first place? If he truly was a man of faith, I would think he would have sought counseling before he got caught.

    And let's take a look at the Catholic Kennedys...They hold up religion to gain populartiy, but those sins of the fathers, sons and brothers--and cousins too!

    Maybe this is only idealism, but if a politician claims to have faith in God, let's see that faith in action. Don't abuse faith and religion to ehance the public image and to gain power.

  • At 1/26/2007 1:57 PM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    Did you hear the one about the angostic dyslexic with insomnia? He stayed up all night wondering if there is a dog.

    But seriously, I think Pres. Gerald Ford handled it right. He let his faith guide his decisions without using it for political gain. His pardon of Richard Nixon demonstrated that he clearly understood the truth of the Gospel.


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