The Rev. Peter A. Luckey, senior pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.:
This is an excellent yet vexing question.
A thoughtful response would include the following three guideposts.
First, religion’s involvement in politics should always be respectful of the separation of church and state. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that Congress shall not establish a state religion nor shall it prohibit the free expression of religion.
Our American experience of 200 years has confirmed the genius of this idea. Unfettered from government intrusion, faith communities of many and various flavors have blossomed and thrived. At the same time, citizens have been free to go about their lives, never fearing that one religion would exert its dominance over others of differing faiths or no faith at all.
Our second guidepost must recognize that the separation of church and state does not mean people of faith are to be prevented from giving voice to their religiously inspired convictions in the public arena.
Muslims, Christians and Jews cannot remain silent when the core of their teachings cry out for social justice, human dignity, care for the earth and love of neighbor.
The history of our country is replete with social movements inspired by faith.
This brings me to my third guidepost, which is a note of caution.
We must refrain from ever being too certain and too sure about how and when our beliefs can best be translated into public policy. The hesitation stems not from a lack of faith but rather an acknowledgement of our flawed, limited nature as human beings.
Let the prophet Micah be our guide. “What does the Lord require, but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God?”
— Send e-mail to Peter Luckey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barry Watts, Associate Pastor, Lawrence Heights Christian Church, 2321 Peterson Road:
Following Jesus is not choosing which flavor of ice cream one prefers, choosing to root for KU or Mizzou, nor selecting which restaurant at which to eat. It is a decision to surrender your life, wants and desires to Jesus Christ.
Genuine faith in Jesus Christ is life-changing. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” A believer in Christ should make decisions based upon God’s will, and not his own. Romans 12:2 declares, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Religion matters. It should matter. It is not just a choice or a preference. Faith should lead to a change in one’s life. Such life changes will be evidence in the decisions made by these individuals.
So what does this have to do with politics? One’s faith, their religion, affects voters’ reasoning behind their decisions. It helps voters discern the beliefs, values and motivations of the political candidates. A candidate’s faith should guide his decisions and be an indicator of his or her moral integrity. Voters must beware of a politician hypocritically using their religion to woo voters.
Personally, I am looking for a courageous and God-fearing man or woman of God to rise up and lead. Someone who follows Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and considers God’s will before making any decision. The Bible gives a list of characteristics that are evidence of a genuine life-changing faith in Jesus Christ. Called “fruit of the spirit,” in Galatians 5:22-23: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
— Send email to Barry Watts at email@example.com.