Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The politics of religion

I’m a Christian. In fact, I’m the daughter of a Baptist pastor and have gone to church my entire life, but I’ve always felt my religion was something personal. In fact, I only mention it here to make a point.

I mean, my faith and spirituality is about my personal relationship with Jesus Christ and I believe it manifests itself through my actions, reactions and behavior, particularly toward my fellow man.

In other words, I’ve never felt the need to broadcast my religion to the world on the regular. I’d rather show you. Just like the song goes
“This little light of mine…” well, I rather let it shine than force it down your throat.

So, I cringed when I began watching CNN’s “Compassion Forum” with Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on Sunday night. (Republican presidential nominee John McCain was also invited, but did not attend.)

As the moderators and selected people from the audience asked Clinton and Obama in separate segments, to share their favorite Bible stories, describe a moment when they caught the Holy Spirit, or describe how they were led to Christ, my family and I were sitting there like “WHAT?! Why are they asking this kind of stuff? Why are they even having a forum like this?”

I strongly believe in the separation of church and state. I think it’s a very dangerous thing when you try to mix the two, because you stand a chance of some fanatic just taking it too far and then you got a raging tyrant, or something scary like that, running the country.

Religious freedom is one of the principles this country was founded on. And presidential candidates shouldn’t have to explain it or wear it like a badge. If it’s the essence of who they are, it shows. Besides, I’m not voting for a minister, I’m voting for a president.

Anyway, overall I felt like both candidates handled the questions about as best as they could. And it actually turned out to be pretty interesting and provide some insight into their spiritual lives.

But it wasn’t enough for me to change my vote one way or the other. (Now, you don’t really think I’m going to tell you which candidate I favor do you? Lol.) Overall, I was just uncomfortable with the whole thing. I mean I’ll admit it’s cool to know if someone shares the same faith as me. It’s a good thing to know, but a political candidate’s religion is just not at the top of my list when it comes to who I’ll choose for the commander in chief. I feel like the record of that person's works will bear that out.

I guess I feel this way because I’ve seen hypocrisy at all levels, from local to national folks, black, white, yellow, whoever, who claim to be this or that and 9 times out of 10, when they’re touting the claim, it’s coming from a place of phoniness or self-righteousness. What’s even more disgusting to me is when candidates exploit religion, namely Christianity, for personal gain or use it to distract people from issues that actually affect them. I mean if Jesus is love, how can you hate or kill people just because they don’t look or act like you, you know? Or how can you propose, legislate or approve bills that actually leave the masses of folks in financial despair, jobless or even homeless, just flat broke and struggling?

I could go on and on, but I’ll get off my soapbox now. I want to know what y’all think? Did anybody see it? Even if you didn’t see the CNN forum, what do you think about the subject in general?


VickiLynne said...

I needed a barf bag every step of the way, it made me cringe in my soul! Religion has no place in politics. Don't tell me that you got down on your hands and knees and prayed, then got up to go bomb a nation - yeah okay.

They too often use religion, scripture & The Bible as the weapons of mass destruction - don't even get me started.

Anonymous said...

I would say that this is a Christian nation and if you aren't a Christian by my standards you should be forced to get out...jk. I am considered by most people that know me to be a "Moderate Christian", this is becuase I don't oppose gay marriage, the truth is before I didn't care one way or the other but after reading about the exploits of the "Rev." Fred Phelps and his clan I think that gays should be able to get married, I don't see how it hurts anyone. I think that if religion is to be seperated from that state that it should be a clean cut, by that I mean I don't think that one religions views should be protected and another religion not share the same protection.

Stephanie Bemrose said...

Interesting post, Donecia. I don't think I want to watch this show after the way you described it!

I do agree with you, though, that if someone has faith, it will show through their actions. A show wholly devoted to pulling that aspect of their faith to the top -- if it's not otherwise visible -- defeats the purpose of letting them show it through their actions.

Donecia Pea said...

LMAO vickilynee at "I needed a barf bag every step of the way..." I really don't think I could have described it any better. That's so real!

jcoltf: For some reason that term 'moderate Christian' makes me laugh. I mean it's like why does that opinion affect your degree of Christianity, you know? Anyway, I agree with you about that. The part about religious rights can be just such a tricky topic though... It's like in theory I agree, but I'm not sure how you can pull that off, you know, depending on the religion...Whew, glad I don't have to make that decision, lol.

Yeah, Steph, it was pretty nauseating at times, but in all fairness it wasn't the worst thing ever. There were some interesting points made in there, you know? Like it wasn't ALL bad, but the premise of it was just 'bleck' to me...

Adam Kealoha Causey said...

I'm reading a book by Sam Harris called "Letter to a Christian Nation" (http://www.amazon.com/Letter-Christian-Nation-Sam-Harris/dp/0307265773) that examines a lot of these kinds of issues. He is unquestionably un-Christian but raises some interesting points. And I'm a Baptist.

It will upset people who don't like others pointing out biblical contradictions, but I don't mind questions. I guess I shouldn't since I'm a journalist.