I realize there are always bizarre things happening in the area of religion and politics. In fact, one could make a good case that, relative to the often very dark distant past, things are relatively calm now. Having admitted that, however, I still can’t help but note that there are unusual and unfortunate religious developments in this political cycle.
To start, what in the world is the Pope doing coming to North America and, on the basis of differences on immigration policies, making the claim that a candidate for President of the United States is “not a Christian?” One would think that the utter and awful decline of religion in Europe would be enough to busy the Pope full time.
I have previously written about Donald Trump. Putting aside the obvious appeal he has for many in our country, one would hope, whatever his policies might be, that Trump could find a better way to advocate for them, without the vitriol and hateful attitude toward those who get in his way. As suggested above, the Pope and indeed all of us ought to give others respect and some latitude on their policies before demonizing them as irreligious. But, as well, Trump ought to be equally and more generally respectful of his opponents. For the attitude he shows them and others will be predictive of the attitude others show him, should he be elected president. Last time I checked, the job is not all-powerful and does require cooperation and mutual support from a wide variety of people and interests to get things done.
The final issue I want to address in this blog is the matter of Ted Cruz and religion. I have spent considerable time over many years studying American history and our presidents. In that history, as a person of faith, I have also studied our religious past in some detail. In essence, we are, for the most part, a religious people who believe religion is fundamental to our destiny. Further, many have worried, more at certain times, that our having lost our way morally is dangerous and that good leadership is necessary to keep us strong and on the straight path.
Actually, I share these views, as have many of our presidents and their supporters. But as I review the lives of even our most religious presidents, I see very little, if any, of the “God has chosen me” phenomenon that encircles the Cruz campaign.
Among the many quotes we regularly see, here’s one from Cruz’s big supporter, Glenn Beck: “The choice – God’s choice – could not be plainer…(Cruz) is the guy that God has raised up from birth…”
Beck is not alone. We have seen similar quotes from supporters, friends and family of Ted Cruz.
In all of my study of our history and all of my study of religion, I have never seen anything like this before from a president or his camp, nor have I seen any evidence that God favors one political candidate in an election over God-fearing opponents.
Today there is something unusual in the water – religiously. I hope that all people, especially those of faith, will convey to both religious leaders as well as political candidates that these ways of being are not favored and are not appreciated.