Friday, July 4, 2008

McCain Endorsed: The Awkward Dance of Religion and Politics

Senator McCain gained the backing of about 100 Christian leaders in Denver this week,

"Collectively we feel that he will support and advance those moral values that we hold much greater than Obama, who in our view will decimate moral values," said Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel, a legal advocacy group, who previously supported Mike Huckabee's candidacy.
A second person who attended the event, but asked not to be named, said that the group was motivated principally by a desire to defeat Barack Obama. "None of these people want to meet their maker knowing that they didn't do everything they could to keep Barack Obama from being president," the participant said. "You've got these two people running for president. One of them is going to become president. That's the perspective. That that's the whole discussion."
This comes in the same week that Senator Obama renewed his attempts to court the evangelical vote. This endorsement not only deflates those efforts, it points out the odd pairing of politics and religion in this presidential campaign. One of Obama's electiblity arguments during the primaries was that he could win over evangelicals, but then Reverend Wright came along. One of the most over-the-top public figures to hit the scene in years has been Obama's pastor and spiritiual advisor for twenty years. So this week Senator Obama announces that he will continue President Bush's faith based initiatives under a new name. This makes a lot of people on both sides of the isle uncomfortable. What sort of religion will Senator Obama be promoting as Chief Executive?

This leads to Senator McCain's awkward dance with Christian conservatives. While this week many concluded to back him fully, in many ways it is due to the serious issues they have with Obama. Senator McCain has shown a reluctance to talk about religion. He is quick to credit his survival as a P.O.W. to faith, but rarely addresses the issue unless asked directly. However, this may be a good thing, or even a very good thing. Certainly it has given him some political difficulties in the Republican party, but promoting a religious doctrine through an elected official can be problematic. The seperation of church and state is an incredibly important part of the consititution, and when a leader either promotes, or appears to promote, a certain brand of religion it gives all those not under that umbrella a very uneasy feeling. Certainly people of faith have every right to question their leaders in any way they see fit. However, there are excellent reasons for a political leader to not market their religion.


Anonymous said...

I totally get "separation of church and state" and the reasoning behind it. I just get very annoyed when I hear it is in the constitution, it is not. This phrase was taken from a letter thomas jefferson had written to a friend. And im afraid it has been used by secular progressives to throw any sort of religous belief out of the public sector. Do you think the founding fathers would approve of having no moral basis in our society?

kmorrison said...

Your right, I should have thought out my phrasing more. It really should have been stated more in terms of freedom of religion. I absolutely agree that the founding fathers were not trying to create a secular society, and that their motives are frequently misinterpreted particularly in regards to religion. However, I do think there is something positive about keeping ones faith relatively private.

Absolutely people of any faith should question their leaders about what is important to them, but there are benefits to having a leader who is not perceived as promoting a specific brand of religion.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the article.

Any open speech on moral values and religion will invite public scrutiny of the speaker.

If you are found wanting, you will be accused of "hypocrisy".

A politician blatantly admonishing the public about faith and values may not be a good idea at all. We have religious institutions with leaders who can handle this and we know where we can go to when need help.

But trusting your faith to a politician even in the slightest degree is too dangerous.

Enough is enough. Hope that McCain will not follow the wrong footsteps of Obama.

Let McCain keep his faith issues with himself. Everyone of us understands that we are all sinners and are all fighting our own demons on our own terms.

Speaking like a righteous man makes a person hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Don't the religions of the middle east combine church and state?

Anonymous said...

Isn't it called a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with God for a reason? Then it is between the individual and God. I have no doubts that Mr. McCain has a very strong personal relationship with God given the years as a prisoner of war. Ipersonally think he may have been closer to God than most under the circumstances.He'll make an excellent President because he knows the costs of war.

Vote McCain 08