DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

March 21, 2008

                                                           

                                      

Under the Microscope 24/7

A few weeks ago I was reading in the newspaper about the political races in the state of Ohio. It profiled candidates for state offices, national offices like House of Representatives and Senate, and of course, the Presidential candidates. I dutifully read the profiles of all the candidates. I knew some and others were new to me. Some were candidates for offices for which I could not vote. Some were not. No matter. I read them all. And at the end of all the candidates’ biographies, there was something that greatly interested me. On the very last line of each profile it said what church that candidate belonged to.

So, I started to scrutinize this bit of information for each candidate. Naturally I noted that some of them were members of the United Church of Christ. I noticed that some of the UCC folks were Republicans and some were Democrats. I noticed that in one district there was two candidates facing each other who belonged to the very same church in the same city. I don’t believe these two were UCC, but I thought it would make for interesting discussions in the narthex as both candidates/church members, probably, (if they were smart) mingled and shook hands and greeted fellow parishioners.

I just don’t seem to remember this phenomenon…that of candidates listing their church affiliation….in years past. But, I suppose it makes sense. If some candidate is a member of Kiwanis, Masons and Big Brother/Big Sister, then I like to know that. If they like to hunt deer, volunteer at the local food pantry and support the opera (though I rather doubt there are many who would actually support all three of the latter), then, I want to know that. Nowadays, if candidates want to get elected, they had best show some sort of church affiliation. No, I am not advocating such, but I am just the messenger here. Part and parcel of a candidate’s life is his/her church affiliation.

Church affiliation can both enhance and hinder a candidate. It gives us a more well-rounded understanding of the man or woman who is going to represent us. That should be a good thing. But, I fear that often the candidate’s church is listed and that makes one more thing that divides us. I rather liked Mike Huckabee’s comment a few months back when he said something like, “I’m a Christian, but I’m not angry about it.”

It got a good laugh from those attending his press conference and from me. We’re on the defensive about so much and while at one time it was sufficient to make a simple remark about a candidate’s church affiliation, it now takes on nearly the same importance as a candidate’s stance on the Bill of Rights. I’m not convinced that it should, but it does as the candidates are scrutinized 24/7 in the horse race that we call the Presidential Campaign. Every day we check the latest polls to see who is up and down and when candidates are merely a commodity like movie and sports stars, we listen to sound bites rather than long term policies which the candidates should be setting before us. We want to know what influences them and so by extension, what and who might be influencing their legislation and decisions should they enter office.

 

I looked at the four Presidential candidates and each had listed at the bottom of their biographies, their church affiliation. Huckabee is well known to be a Baptist (though there are many types of Baptist churches). McCain is a Baptist. This surprised me (though there are many types of Baptists). Clinton is United Methodist. This I knew. Obama is UCC. This too, I knew.

The previous paragraphs were written a couple weeks ago when I first read the article with the candidate’s church affiliation. Since then this whole Obama and his home church issue has arisen. I know that is in the back of our minds, and it is important. How Obama and the press handle the issue will reveal much about how we live our faith/personal/political lives AND run our political campaigns.

On the day in which this nation was marking the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War; a time  when we all should be seriously contemplating the meaning of our involvement there… whether pro or con. On a day which we should be remembering those who have sacrificed for this country…the one news channel that was on in the barbershop where I go had a “SPECIAL REPORT” And this “Special Report” was about the influence of Obama’s home minister and whether this has helped McCain.

I guess that was THE issue of the day for them.

How we treat our candidates and their church affiliation in the midst of local, state and national elections says much about this country. I am not certain what it is saying just now, but it is saying it rather loudly.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing