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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

March 2, 2012

FAITH, TO BUILD UP AND TEAR DOWN

I have followed politics closely since I was a kid. I always enjoyed the drama and importance of elections. I recall seeing President Johnson campaign in the Lima town square in 1966. Nixon came to the Lima area a few years later.

I have my political favorites and not-so-favorites and anyone whom I would endorse would merely be my favorite, not God’s favorite or the DCC favorite. I have certain issues that I am passionate about and would probably fall on the opposite side of every issue for 50% of the population. I have no more qualifications for vetting a candidate than any one else.

But with the Ohio Primary upon us I believe I can give a thought or two about the use of faith and Jesus in current political circles. I think I am about to offer you an unbiased look at the use of faith and religion in the campaigns, but I imagine some blogger can take me to task on the internet.

I know this for certain: there is much more use (and misuse) of religion/faith and Jesus than there used to be. I recall the controversy of John Kennedy being a Roman Catholic. But I do not recall the fact that George Romney was Mormon as being a big issue in the mid-60’s. I certainly can’t recall the church of Lyndon Johnson or even Reagan. Though by the Reagan era, I do remember Reagan saying that he felt he was born again. Carter was upfront about being born-again.

In today’s political climate, being a vocal follower of Jesus is as important as having a coherent fiscal policy. Probably more so, since nobody seems to understand fiscal policy. But of the four leading candidates in the two main political parties, each touts his relationship to his church and faith.

I would like to think that can only be good. Gingrich and Santorum speak openly about being Roman Catholic. Romney is a Mormon. Obama is a Protestant. All tell of their ties to their faith. Yet, each has been the target of naysayers about their religion.

People question the recent conversion of Gingrich. Santorum is attacked for his conservative Roman Catholic faith. Opponents of Romney are quite critical of his Mormon faith. Obama’s critics question his birth father’s Muslim faith and his own ties to a preacher in Chicago. And if you are paying close attention, I am only talking about faith of the candidates being the Christian faith. I don’t know if a Buddhist or Muslim could be elected President of this country at this time. Atheists would find it nearly impossible to endure the election process.

Faith is a complex thing. It is so easy to attack a person on the basis of one’s faith, since faith really does not have a checklist of items to which one must adhere. My checklist for my faith can be completely different from another’s list. It seems like the American voter chooses a candidate initially on the candidate’s similarity to their own stance on various issues. If the candidate’s idea of faith lines up with the voters, so much the better; and that candidate’s similar faith might reinforce the voters’ choice.

So I don’t sense that the American public chooses a candidate solely on the basis of their faith, but we do require that they express a faith in a higher power. Faith is a part of the total package of the candidate. The problem for the candidate is that when they do declare their faith stance, their faith is soundly attacked by their opponents.

What has brought us to this point of such close scrutiny of a candidate’s faith/religious qualifications? Hard to say, exactly, but I don’t see the issue of the candidates’ faith becoming any less important in the years ahead. And that both delights and horrifies me.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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