Posts Tagged ‘candidates’
Politics and religion are important and dangerous topics, and they often have an impact on each other. It grates on me to hear a candidate disparaged for his religious beliefs. There is not much that is more un-American than to do so. Religious intolerance within the Christian community threatens the power of Conservatism.
Polls show that 82% of Americans identify themselves “Christian.” This large percentage of believers belong to or attend literally “thousands” (according to adherents.com) of different denominations from the largest, Catholic, to the smallest single-congregation denomination. An outsider might ask, why so many different kinds of Christians? The answer is simple, beginning with the protestant reformation to the current day, believers have compared their church to the writings in the Bible; and often when doing this they discover some discrepancy, so they split off and start a new church that they feel is modeled more on that of the Biblical description of the church Christ organized during his mortal ministry.
Some of these splits have come about due to disagreement over such things as the mode of baptism, the necessity of baptism, the version of the Bible that is used, the way tithes and offerings are collected or administered, predestination vs. free will, the use of products such as alcohol, makeup, or meat, the use of musical instruments, female preachers, and many more such items.
Even with these divisions, the basic doctrine of Christianity remains in these churches. I studied religion in college, and I read a great deal on contemporary religion. I have not found any denomination that does not have certain basic beliefs as part of their doctrine:
- Jesus of Nazareth was the only begotten Son of God; He lived without sin, gave Himself to pay for the sins of all humans, and is the Savior of the World, the only way back to God
- The First and Greatest Commandment – Love God with your might, mind, and strength
- The Second Greatest Commandment -Love your neighbor as yourself
- The Ten Commandments
These are certainly not the only commonality between Christian denominations, but it is sufficient to illustrate that a Christian who proclaims belief in Christ is a Christian. If I believe that baptism by emersion in a requirement, and you do not, that difference does not give me the right to say you aren’t really a Christian. Whatever else you believe, because you believe in those four items above, nobody can rightly say you are not a Christian.
Religious tolerance means that you give each person the right to worship and serve God in the way they believe is right, whether it matches your belief or not. There is a limit on this tolerance in that the United States Constitution and the body of law resulting from it, including those from state and civil governments, is the only law allowed to deal with mandatory fines, seizure of property, incarceration, physical punishment, or execution for wrong doing. Other than that each church has the right to allow in or remove from membership whomever they wish and to conduct their worship and church business how they choose. And each member has the same right to participate or not.
Each Christian attends the church of their choosing because they believe it is the best church for them, or because they enjoy the fellowship, convenience, or programs. It is not fair to others to say they are not Christian because they don’t see religion in exactly the say way we do. Jesus told His apostles, “For he that is not against us is on our part.” All these churches believe the four things listed above, they are on our part.
As long as they honor the Constitution and obey the laws of the land, a candidate should not be criticized for being a “born again”, Catholic, Episcopal, Mormon, or an unaligned Christian. With the same Constitutional stipulation mentioned in the previous sentence, the same is true for non-Christian religious bodies as well. It speaks well to a person’s character that they respect t and honor their religious beliefs and are kind to others in theirs.
We need to honestly throw away religious bias and select candidates on the strength of their record, education, public service, their stand on issues, and their personal character. In the next of this series, I will exam the three candidates most know for their religious beliefs: Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Jon Huntsman.