Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Faith and Politics -- the Warren Dilemma

I don't know what the ratings for Saturday evening's forum were -- after all, it took place right in the middle of the Olympics. The punditry seems to have come down all over the place. It's obvious that McCain knew the crowd (though Rick Warren claimed on Larry King last night that the two campaigns had equal numbers of tickets -- but, if that's true it sure didn't seem that way from my brief observation of the proceedings). So, who won? Who knows.

I find it interesting that Welton Gaddy (Interfaith Alliance) in his blog response (Progressive Revival) found Warren's demeanor and much of the questioning to be both civil and helpful. But, the focus on faith professions (what does Christ mean to you?) and even the location of the forum in a church to be problematic.

In response to Pastor Warren's questions on religion, both John McCain and Barack Obama seemed compelled to offer confessions of faith as a credential for their attractiveness as a candidate for the White House. But, that should not be the case. There is no religious test for public office according to our Constitution and we have no business trying to establish what the Constitution forbids.


Although I find it refreshing to see Democrats willing to address matters of faith, I do think that requiring them to define their faith to be problematic. Of course, for Obama, this is much more problematic because of the perception by a goodly number of people that he is a Muslim. A forum like this allows him to dispel the rumor -- but as he himself has said, the very fact that he has to make this distinction reflects the anti-Muslim sentiment that is running rampant in our nation.

So, as Gaddy reminds us, the Constitution itself declares clearly that there is no religious test. It does not matter whether one is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Buddhist, or even Humanist -- there is no religious test. This is something we too easily forget.

1 comment:

roy said...

The constitution does state that there is no religious test for office... Anyone can run, but that does not mean that I am not allowed to apply a religious test before I vote. If a candidate's faith doesn't impact the way they hold their office then it is worthless and that tells me something about their character. If it does, then I want an idea of what that faith is because that will show in their policies. There are a number of religious orientations that would be deal breakers for me in terms of a vote. The world view that goes with them is just too far away from my own.