Faith is center to our being
Rod Hinkle, pastor, North Lawrence Christian Church, 647 Elm St.:
Dear friend: Eighty percent of the American people believe in God. Practicing believers are probably fewer, but even atheists expect, perhaps even demand, that believers follow their faith all of the time. It would be absolutely hypocritical for a Christian to say he believes but never on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every even year.
Our republic is no longer unique in the world, praise God. May every person in the world find the freedom for which he/she yearns. Since we are a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people," as President Lincoln declared, all the people have a responsibility to be involved.
Our faith goes to the center of our being, informing our convictions, our hopes and our compassion for others. We are, therefore, obligated to take a stand on current issues. Jesus said, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." (Matthew 22:21) So Christians are involved in the life of their community, including its political life.
We expect our political leaders to speak the truth always, lead a moral, self-sacrificing life, protect the nation against her enemies and have compassion on the poor and helpless.
Faith teaches us to honor and pray for our leaders. They are God's instruments to maintain order and safety and protect law-abiding citizens. (Romans 13:4-6) (1 Timothy 1:1-6)
Religion doesn't creep into politics. It's been there since our forefathers established the colonies for the free expression of faith and our independence was grounded in "all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator ..."
- Send e-mail to Rod Hinkle at firstname.lastname@example.org
Religion may stretch in new direction
The Rev. Andrew C. Mitchell, pastor, Stull United Methodist Church, 251 N. 1600 Road, Lecompton:
In the seven years since the tragedy of 9/11, in each seventh-inning stretch of the World Series, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" has been replaced with "God Bless America" as our anthem of unity. How ironic, then, that as our national pastime overlaps with the national election season, hardball politics play with faith to divide Americans.
This week, a U.S. senator aired an ad accusing her opponent - a loyal Sunday school teacher and Presbyterian elder - of not believing in God. Some Catholic politicians, having cast votes in the interest of their constituents rather than their personal confession of faith, are denied communion. Ridiculous rumors persist that a covertly practicing radical Muslim is running for president. Bearing false witness to make an opponent appear unholier-than-thou is like swinging a corked bat - it may get a lot of pop, but when it cracks, it rings hollow.
Or is that the Liberty Bell? The U.S. permits the free exercise of faith and does not recognize an official state religion. Nevertheless, the religious body that gains the most visibility carries significant social power, fostering a perception of what "mainstream" faith looks like.
Throughout American history, for example, public discourse on "values" has been shaped in terms favored by the religious voice dominant at the time - with mixed results. The Puritan work ethic enabled the rise of U.S. capitalism. The Founding Fathers' impersonal deism depersonalized the status of slaves as 3/5 human. Nineteeth century progressive Christianity aided abolition, suffrage and temperance - giving concrete form to equality, liberty and life. Mainline Protestantism, predominant for two-thirds of the 20th century, emphasized social justice. Family-focused evangelicalism has been up to bat the past 30 years. Might another movement be on deck?
- Send e-mail to Andrew Mitchell at email@example.com.