‘…Religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship…’ Thomas Jefferson letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802
As a Christian and a citizen of the United States, I’ve been getting a little edgy these last several elections where we are calling our candidates to answer to us as to how they answer to God.
I am always reminded of James Madison’s famous quote about the separation of church and state: “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.” Here we are in a war where religious sectarian violence is based on not much more difference than that between Lutherans and Catholics, and we are concerned with whether our leaders pass our own religious tests.
It also brings to mind that Richard Nixon was a Quaker; though my Quaker friends have said that no meeting would claim him. Yet, if we were to question leaders’ moral and ethical stances on the basis of his faith, how would we ever doubt a Quaker?
I am also leery of religious leaders even wanting to be President. We call on our President to do some very un-God like acts, like launch war, sign letters of execution, decide who gets aid and who doesn’t. How can they possibly reconcile those actions with being a religious individual?
If we are going to be determined to hold leaders to a standard of religiosity, and that of a Christian religiosity at that, I would rather ask them about what it means to be a Christian. Not the vapid “Do you pray?” that we heard earlier this fall. I would put to them this Bible verse:
Matthew 25:34: .For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was
thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger
and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing,
I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me..
and ask how they would fulfill their promise to God. Jesus didn’t hang around the rich and powerful. He hung out with the lost, the left out and the needy. He spent a good deal of time making the rich and powerful nervous. About the only thing making the rich and powerful nervous today is whether or not they’ll get to keep their tax cuts.