December 12, 2007

The Faith Factor

Here's what columnist, Cal Thomas, had to say about the faith factor, recently:

"Atheists are the only people who appear to have been offended by Mitt Romney's speech about his Mormon faith. Judging by the reaction contained in some newspaper columns, editorials and letters to the editor, atheists are said to have felt "excluded" by Romney's failure to acknowledge that tolerance of the anti-religious is part of America's tradition.
Most everyone else thought it a good speech and that Romney had the correct view of the proper roles of church and state while refusing to compromise his personal convictions.
What no one mentioned (so I will) is the curious practice by a substantial number of voters who require our presidential candidates to acknowledge faith in God. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution prohibits a "religious test" for office, but that hasn't stopped many, especially in Iowa, from requiring statements of evangelical faith before deciding for whom to vote.
Does one expect to know the spiritual bonafides of an individual, other than pastor or religious worker, for any other job?
In the 1970s, a curiosity called the "Christian Yellow Pages" made the rounds of churches and certain businesses run by evangelicals. It contained names of professions one finds in the regular Yellow Pages — plumbers, taxi drivers, auto mechanics, dry cleaners — except these were owned and operated by certified, God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians. The clear implication was that businesses found in the Christian Yellow Pages would do a better job at a better price than the presumed "heathen" who advertised in the bigger yellow book.
I never saw any data that proved a connection between faith in Jesus and the ability to repair a car at a reasonable cost, so I usually went with the shop that did the best job at the lowest price and didn't bother to ask if the repairman went to church.
Voters who require statements of faith from presidential candidates risk disappointment. Many evangelicals who voted for Jimmy Carter regretted having done so when they saw his post-election policies and what they regarded as his incompetence as president. Bill Clinton could quote Scripture, but not many would hold him up as an evangelical icon, given his roving eye and impeachment for lying under oath.
Much of this fixation on audible faith has to do with evangelicals having been ignored by culture following the embarrassment associated with the Scopes Trial 82 years ago. Emerging from their political catacombs in the late 1970s, these Christians basked, if not in new respect, then in the intoxication that comes with public attention. They were told they were now players in the kingdom of this world and in presidential politics. Their leaders were invited into the corridors of political power. They exchanged real power and its ability to transform lives for temporal power, which changes little of lasting importance.
While requiring politicians to express belief in Jesus and the Bible, many evangelical voters ignore Christ's statements about the source of genuine power. They also conveniently forget what Christ said about how they would be regarded and treated by a world that had rejected Him (and still does as the best-selling atheistic works of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins attest).
It was Jesus, in whom Mitt Romney said he believed, who warned, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first" (John 15:18) and "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also" (John 15:20). Those warnings are not the creed of contemporary evangelicals who think persecution is a negative newspaper editorial or a disparaging remark by a skeptic on a cable TV show.
Too many contemporary evangelicals want the blessing without obeying their real commander in chief, who said doing things His way would bring real persecution.
This election should be more about competence and less about ideology, or even faith. It shouldn't matter where — or if — a candidate goes to church, but whether he (or she) can run the country well, according to the principles in which the voter believes. And, if those principles include a person of faith, so much the better. God can be the ultimate check and balance on earthly power.
If a car hits me, I care more about whether the ambulance driver knows the way to the nearest hospital and the skills of the emergency room doctor than where they stand with God. That's the attitude we should have toward those who desire to be president of the United States in a fallen world."
Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.

* I must say that I have been disappointed a few times in people I chose for services based on the fact that they were people of faith. Once, I chose someone to redo my kitchen, based on the fact that his ad in the yellow pages alluded to his faith, and when I called him to set up an appointment for the estimate, I was impressed with his cheerful, "Praise the Lord!" greeting. He was cheerful, alright, but I felt that he overcharged for the work, and not being at home the day he completed the job, I didn't know that he had left damages which, in the long run, were costly, and he denied causing them. The fact that I, in my blind faith in his honesty and ability, had paid him in advance, didn't help matters--nor, did he care that I was a woman of faith.

I would like for our President to be a man of honor and integrity, whose goal is to do the very best for all of the citizens of this country. If his, or her, religion is not the same as mine, it doesn't matter as long as it does not influence his decisions in a negative way, nor cause harm to anyone.

I think that if Mitt Romney was required to explain his religion, then all of the candidates should have to do the same. I'm not too sure that many of our politicians, past and present, would darken the door of any place of worship, if they didn't deem it neccessary to garner votes. That's just my personal opinion, of course--besides, we, as a diverse nation will never agree, totally, on anything, including religion and politics.


GUYK said...

"If a car hits me, I care more about whether the ambulance driver knows the way to the nearest hospital and the skills of the emergency room doctor than where they stand with God."

Yeah, I agree with Cal Thomas on this but I also figure he is a damn hypocrit..if you will check back a few years you'll find that he was a stauch advocate for the religious right wing and enforcing their ideas about morality and family values.

rockync said...

Jan said:
"I would like for our President to be a man of honor and integrity, whose goal is to do the very best for all of the citizens of this country. If his, or her, religion is not the same as mine, it doesn't matter as long as it does not influence his decisions in a negative way, nor cause harm to anyone."

I couldn't agree more; give me someone who puts the NATION'S best interests first. If they also have a deep, abiding faith that sustains them, I think that's wonderful as long as I don't feel the need to shove their ideology down my throat.

rockync said...

OOps, that should be as long as THEY don't feel the need...
I really need to proof read before I post.

Jan said...

guyk, I'm afraid that there are an awful lot of hypocrits around unfortunately. I haven't always agreed with Cal Thomas, nor a lot of others, but I am not sure that I would call him a hypocrit for what he said in this article--I'm pretty sure that he still believes in morality and family values. He even said that the leaders of the evangelicals had changed in their actions, starting in the late 1970s, and was voicing his disapproval. I just thought it was a pretty interesting observation. I'd be willing to bet that there is not one single politician who has not changed his position on some issue, at one time or another,depending on what he thinks will get him elected, or keep him in office--and that's something that I doubt will ever change.

Jan said...

rockync..exactly. Btw..either way you said it makes sense..kinda! LOL

Anonymous said...

I don't think that fellow is right to call atheists "anti-religion." Some atheists just figure people can believe what they want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, and more power to them.

Jan said...

Hermit, I see your point, but unfortunately most of the atheists that one sees on television talk shows are very anti-religious, which gives the impression that all atheists are. Just as some Christians give a very negative impression about what other Christians believe.

Granny J said...

Religion should be a private matter, especially in politics!!! Looking at other parts of the world, we get a good picture of what it can be like in a theocracy. I want no part of such religious politics in our country!!!!

Jan said...

granny j, on some news program this evening they were talking about how the candidates' religion had been made such an important issue in this election. I can't ever remember it being such a hot topic during other election years, can you?

pepektheassassin said...

I hear you, Jan. Good post!

Jan said...

pepektheassassin..thanks! :)