Religious beliefs not a political litmus test
Charles Gruber, Sufi minister, student of Zen Buddhism and member of the Oread Friends Meeting:
The short answer is the easiest one: No role whatsoever. Are we going to get behind this separation of church and state thing or not?
The longer, more thoughtful answer has to do with vision. What vision does your religious collective want to encourage? What's important to your personal needs and your group's needs that you want the next president to know?
If we invoke spirit and make our individual or group vote contingent upon the candidates' acceptance of our various positions, then we risk compromising our relationship with spirit just so we can "get our way."
Regarding the specific beliefs of various candidates, the discussion gets dicey. There's a basic belief involved here that either the candidate's beliefs will or won't have any effect on their governing decisions. For me, personally, I wouldn't vote for someone even for dog catcher if I felt their religious beliefs would affect how they did their job. This may not be a popular viewpoint, and this IS an opinion column.
Instead of holding a political candidate's feet to the fire around actions my group endorses, I'm going with attitudes. Will I be proud to tell my great-grandchildren I voted for a candidate who was genuine, compassionate and accountable or one who pandered to my group's religious views in order to get elected?
My country was founded on the principle that religious beliefs would neither dictate actions nor be a litmus test for suitability of a political candidate. Our progenitors left England because of this. They had a bloody good reason for leaving.
- E-mail Charles Gruber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You cannot separate 'you' from your vote
The Rev. Robert Leiste, pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2700 Lawrence Ave.:
As a Christian who has a sense of moral ethics, should I leave those ethics behind when I go to work for someone and steal from them?
Should I leave my ethics behind and refuse to try to help someone? Should I, as I enter the voting booth exercising my God-given duty to be a good citizen, leave behind a major source of my identity?
No, I cannot separate who I am and seek to be from how I live in this world as a citizen.
Yet, we have a Constitution that requires a separation of church and state. Fine. My church, nor should any other, be part of the governing authority of any part of this world. To loosely quote a long-dead Christian philosopher: "When the church and state get into bed together, the church gets raped."
A Christian is a person whom God has called through faith in his son to be a pilgrim here, whose final citizenship is in heaven. We have become a new creation, and that new creation is to be so profound, so deep and influential that it literally changes the way a person lives.
Since it changes the way a person lives, it becomes part of us as Christians that is always to be expressed in our actions and words before others. Yes, even when we live as part of this world as the citizen God calls us to be when we vote.
- E-mail Robert Leiste at email@example.com.