It’s been one of those weeks where religion has overshadowed almost everything else in the Presidential campaign.
1. Mitt Romney delivered what some are calling his JFK speech.
2. Fred Thompson admitted to not attending Church and said he wouldn’t discuss his religious beliefs on the campaign trail. (Hat Tip: Instapundit.com)
3. Governor Huckabee claimed the explanation for his surge is the polls is “not a human one.” (Which led to this hilarious comment: “The Inhumans Are Behind Huckabee“)
4. Giuliani stated this morning that his thinking on [homosexual sexual activity] is informed by the Catholic church, that it is the act that makes it sinful, not the orientation. As Jay Nordlinger pointed out in the above link: “…when Giuliani said his thinking on the issue was influenced by Catholic teaching, I can’t help but suspect more than a few Catholic Republicans fell out of their chairs.”
So, as the self-proclaimed unofficial religious blogger of the DCBA (not that others aren’t religious, I just blog about it more), you might wonder what I think about this. Or you don’t, but I’m writing on it anyway.
The problem with both Romney’s and Giuliani’s statements (and JFK’s) is that they seem to compartmentalize their religious beliefs. They are claiming to have religious beliefs, but that they won’t carry them over to their activities as President. If you’re truly devoted to God, how can your belief in Him not carry over to every part of your life? We should strive to make God part of every moment of our lives and allow Him to direct us at all times, not push Him aside at certain points. Now, realistically, due to our imperfections, we don’t live up to that standard, but that should be our goal at all times. We can’t consciously decide to push Him out of a certain part of our lives because our faith might inconvenient to ourselves or others. Giuliani’s claim that his stand on those with same-sex attractions is informed by the Church is puzzling, given his stance on abortion, which is clearly not informed by the Church’s teaching. He even supported partial-birth abortion until he considered challenging Hillary for the Senate in 2000. If someone can push God to the side that easily in one area, you have to wonder how easily they’ll push him aside in others.
If someone is truly devoted to God, their faith in Him should inform everything they do. I have real concerns about someone who starts by admitting they won’t let their faith impact their decisions as President. While a political officeholder should not take direct orders from a religious figure, they should allow their faith to inform the decisions they make. As Jimmy Akin notes, the leaders of the Mormon Church claim a power to define doctrine that not even the Pope claims and that’s worrying for those who don’t completely understand Mormonism. Essentially, the Pope can ratify what’s long been believed by the Church, but not define brand-new doctrine or contradict existing doctrines. The Mormon elders, however, can apparently do so, as we’ve seen in their decisions banning polygamy and allowing blacks to become Mormon priests. Given that power credited to the elders, it’s understandable that many people, even those who have deep dislike towards Mormons have their concerns about electing on President.
Disclaimer on my view of Mormons: I’ve known three Mormons in my life. Two ultimately became Catholic. I really didn’t like one of them, and the other was his mother. No contact sin grade school. I haven’t seen the third since high school, but he was a great guy. (We nicknamed him the “Stormin’ Mormon,” since this was right after the Gulf War.) I don’t accept them as Christians, given some of their teachings, but do think they are valuable political allies.
Now, in a move that might surprise some people, the statement above I am most comfortable with from a political/American point of view is Thompson’s. I don’t much care if our politicians attend Sunday services. For example, not all Protestant denominations require attendance at service on Sundays, so members of those denominations should not held to the same standard on Sunday attendance as, say, a Catholic. Second, as was discussed by some members of the DCBA earlier this year, I could vote for an atheist if their political views were compatible with mine. (Comments from the DCBA: Me, Jeff the Baptist, Hube.) I care more about the policies and principles a candidate enunciates, rather than how they reach them. A person can do the Lord’s work without intending to, and we should vote to make sure the Lord’s work is done, rather than making sure someone who professes to be doing the Lord’s work is elected. After all, a lot of evil has been done by those claiming to be working for the Lord. You’d think after the debacle some call the Jimmy Carter Presidency that Christians would know to look deeper than a mere surface Christianity, but sometimes we get caught up in someone’s zeal. And Huckabee’s zeal greatly concerns me. (Plus Huckabee’s liberalism is greatly bothersome.)
Something religious conservatives need to keep in mind in this race: we’re electing a President, not a Pope. They don’t need to be right on every single point of religious doctrine to be the right person for the job. Look at their past public records, since that’s the best indicator of how they’ll perform in the future.