Thought for the Day - Rev Joel Edwards - 01/09/2012
With Mitt Romney’s presidential nomination confirmed in a barn-storming acceptance speech two days ago, the race to the White House is now well under way.
For most of us outside the United States, the battle for power is as inscrutable as a test match is to the average American. And in the coming months the party machines will meander across America’s consciousness.
For a whole litany of reasons, Presidential politics is an Olympian spectacle like no other – not least because religious belief is an indispensible political accessory for presidents.
America definitely does do God.
But for the first time the nation finds itself in something of an understated dilemma: America has an African-American incumbent whose Christian credentials continue to be challenged, and a Mormon whose faith has been marginalized by mainstream America.
In the next 3 months the entire world will be drawn into the events of this campaign, which will have consequences for the whole world. And rightly, we will hope that political substance will trump platitudes and costly, negative adverts.
But there will be many like myself – people of faith – who are anxious to see what the relationship between the God talk and campaigning looks like in the months ahead.
“Thou shalt keep things positive during presidential campaigns” would have been a very helpful bible verse. But in its absence Christians have a lot of other options to work with.
“Whatever things are lovely think on these things.” “Do not repay evil for evil” “Do not bear false witness.” “Speak the truth in love.” The list is endless.
I’ll be the first to admit that in the heat of political battle such ideas can turn out to be simplistic and a little hard to bolt onto our strategic plans when the stakes are high.
But these are religious ideas for religious people.
A so-called ‘fact-free’ environment is a dangerous place to be. And if our politics is to deliver substance over rhetoric it will need powerful and enduring values as much as effective policies.
All of us who believe that faith should inform public duty must transcribe these lofty aspirations into the realities of a competitive world for the common good.
That, after all, is the whole point of a ‘living faith.’