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Faith in politics not as simple as checking a box

March 11, 2012
By JOSHUA FLESHER , Tribune Chronicle |

Democracy. Faith. Religion. Politics. Beliefs. Agenda. Party. Theology.

Read those words out loud to yourself a few times and try to find the thread that flows through it. See if you can find the pattern that weaves these eight words into one comprehensive idea.

A debate that I've had with several people over the course of the past few weeks has brought forth the same question, and I truly don't know the answer.

First off, allow me to state that I was raised as a Christian and my belief and faith is that of a Christian.

I say this because throughout the past few weeks, the discussion of politics and the presidential race has focused quite heavily at times on the candidates' religious beliefs.

The question that is posed time and time again, as I've heard it, is when does religious belief and devotion cross the invisible line?

This is a sensitive topic for some, and I understand that. Growing up in a Baptist church, I was taught that my religious beliefs and my devotion to that was what would guide my decision making and my life.

We are also told that we are to follow the laws set forth by our governing bodies.

So, as a nation that is ''One nation under God,'' as well as it having been established that there be a separation of church and state, what is the answer?

We recite the Pledge of Allegiance but are told we can't have organized prayer in schools. So, God is permitted to be a part of the proceedings as long as he does not interfere?

Candidates have been under attack this election season because of their faith, whether it be Mitt Romney and his Mormonism or Rick Santorum and his Catholicism, their chosen religious devotion has been pinpointed as an area of weakness.

But, by the same token, Santorum has made it clear that his faith is what leads his decision-making and establishes his ideals.

For some, the idea that religion plays any part in our country's make up is disconcerting; for others, a president guided by his moral compass is a breath of fresh air.

Others are worried that a president could fall outside the box of the Christian, Anglo-Saxon belief system.

So, which is it?

I don't think there is a definitive answer. As a person of faith, the teachings of our religion are to be the basis for our lives, but that belief system does not make a person any less capable of being an effective leader for our nation.

This country was founded, in large part, due to religious persecution, and the men who created the greatest democracy in the world did so with the idea that we not allow such persecution to take place.

How many other countries have such a free exchange of religious ideals?

To me, it isn't the teachings of faith that can push our leaders off the path of quality governmental leadership but human interpretation of those teachings.

I see nothing wrong with our leaders being men and women of faith and having religious beliefs, but we shouldn't be looking at them as our morality police.



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