Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Faith in Politics

Although it is hard to believe, there has already been two presidential debates. (I find this mind boggling, as the election is well over a year away.) A key point in both the Republican and Democratic debate was each of the candidates view/reliance on their faith. This always gets my hackles up. One part of me wants to scream "What about separation of church and state? Why is this even asked?" You wouldn't ask someone in a job interview what their religion is (or isn't). In fact, it would constitute a lawsuit. Another part wants to say "I don't care. As long as you seem reasonably ethical, that is fine." But that isn't completely true. I find it very unnerving when politicians talk about how their faith guides them.

First, it is very exclusionary. I know that many of them feel that they are appealing to the larger audience, reassuring people that they are answering to a higher power - not just their own human mind. The larger audience, though, are not all Christians. Most are not born-again. As a Unitarian, I find no comfort in the fact that they are calling to a higher power (Jesus) that I do not believe is my Savior. I have a feeling that atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, etc. also find this less then reassuring. Additionally, it resonates with other non-Christian countries as Christendom's continual tries for domination. It makes it very hard for them to find common ground with which to work for peace and acceptance.

Second, I find it is a way for political leaders to absolve themselves of responsibility. It is much easier to justify the deaths of innocent civilians and soldiers when you claim that there is a higher reason for your war. Obviously, our own president is an excellent example of this. How many political or religious leaders have "fallen" only to ask for forgiveness for their human nature? As if their humanity was to blame - not their own, very real, decision making.

Finally, as a Unitarian, I am very uncomfortable using the word faith - especially in regards to political decision making. One of the main reasons I am drawn to Unitarian Universalism is the emphasis it puts on the ability for humankind to be rational, ethical people. I truly believe this. I don't feel you have to have faith to make responsible, appropriate decisions. I believe in the ability of the human mind to reason, without the need for "divine" intervention. I do think there is room in politics for people of all beliefs, but it should not be the driving force in their political campaign. As UUs know, actions speak a whole lot louder then words.


Angelina said...

I couldn't possibly agree with you more.

It makes me very scared when politicians start talking about their faith.

Angeleen said...

It would also scare me as a politician to have a specific religious group heartily endorse me.

Leaves a whole lot of room for alienation of a whole lot of other people.

I am a person of faith, but I would never limit or try to difine it by using a generally accepted label. I don't want to be judged by someone else's perception or definition of a word.

Robin Edgar said...

I don't doubt that it scare the sh*t out of any politician who received the hearty endorsement of the U*U "religious community" aka "the Church of the Far Left". . . ;-)