Stephen, I have a “wag of the finger” for you. Wednesday night you opened your show by talking about our recent presidential forum on faith, values, and poverty by saying, "CNN gives the Democratic candidates an hour to talk about God. Wonder what they did with the other 58 minutes."
Well, let me tell you what they did with those 58 minutes. They helped dismantle the tired myth that the GOP is “God’s One Party,” or the more recent angle that Democrats are only getting religion as a crass election strategy. Instead, these candidates described a faith that is both sincere and authentic.
You claimed, “Asking Democrats about religion is like asking Mel Gibson how he enjoyed his Passover.” Well, Stephen, as a Catholic you should know that the first Lord’s Supper was a Passover meal, and from what I understand, Mel Gibson takes communion regularly. That is to say, we need not agree with a person’s politics or even their theology to affirm that their religious beliefs are real and personal, and have shaped their lives in vital ways. Monday night we learned more about why faith is important to these candidates.
But just as you can’t dismiss a candidate’s faith because of party affiliation, nor can you judge a candidate’s fitness for office based on their religion. Stephen, even you must agree that born-again Christians can make bad presidents. (I know you’re picturing Jimmy Carter right now, but not everyone is). Instead, as scripture states: “by their fruits ye shall know them.” So, except for the most ideologically driven media voices – ahem – most coverage of the event made the vital connection between the candidates’ faith and their policies on poverty, criminal justice, immigration, health care, energy – even war and peace.
As I’m sure you are, I’m looking forward to examining these same connections during our Republican forum on faith, values, and poverty in the fall – that is, assuming they accept our invitation. I just hope one hour will be enough time for the top three Republican front-runners to explain how their faith has inspired them to overcome poverty.
Ryan Rodrick Beiler is the web editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.