Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

To Senators Obama and McCain, Re: God and the Election

I was asked by Sally Quinn and John Meacham of the Washington Post and Newsweek, what advice I would offer to Barack Obama and John McCain on the use of religion in their presidential campaigns. This was my response:
Dear Senator McCain and Senator Obama,
As a person of faith, I hope that religion plays a role in your lives, and if it does, then I would expect that we see it reflected in your campaigns also. But if religion is not central in your lives, please don’t make it central to either of your bids for the presidency. Either way, please do not allow religion, or the lack of it, to become a political issue about which you squabble or use to prove why any specific group of voters should vote for you. When religion is used that way, it is bad for both religion and politics, and ultimately for all of us as well.
America has some pretty big challenges ahead of it right now, and the typical religious posturing which passes for genuine faith, in American politics, is not going to provide any meaningful response to those challenges. However, politicians who are clear about the values for which they stand, and can help us appreciate the sources of those values, can shape a process by which to lead us toward the solutions we need. And I think that spiritual connection, religious wisdom, and ongoing practice can all contribute to that.
But that has nothing to do with standing up and telling us why God, the Bible, etc. endorse your position on anything from the war in Iraq to poverty in America or even abortion. Those are specific policies, and resorting to proof-texting for any of them has no place in making public policy for a country which reads a variety of texts and understands them in a variety of ways. Frankly, I am sick and tired of those on both the left and the right, invoking God’s name to prove their point about any specific policy.


The God who believers, including me, invoke has been around forever and has said pretty much everything about everything. The same God who calls for loving one’s neighbor has endorsed horrible wars against those very neighbors. The same God who has taught that all human beings are one with Him no matter what, has also taught that without Him, we are all going to burn. The same God, who calls us to surrender with humility, provides the teachings which inspire deadly fanaticism in His name.
Senators, let’s not make this election about what God says. Let’s make it about what you say. And because each of you hopes to lead the most powerful nation on face of the Earth, tell about the sources that you draw upon to reach those conclusions. We both want and need to know, not only what you think, but why. We need to know where you will turn in the middle of the night when confronting the really big questions. To the Bible? To your spouse? To the Constitution? The pollsters? That’s what we really need to know.
Brad Hirschfield

  • eastcoastlady

    How I wish the candidates, and the general pubic as well, would take the Rabbi’s words to heart.
    I’m utterly disgusted with the sanctimonious attitude of, “G-d is on our side,” or, “The Bible says so,”, etc ad nauseum.
    So many people just don’t get it. I don’t want one narrow view of a Bible to which I don’t give any credence ruling so many aspects of my life.

  • Jew In Training

    The Nazis thought God was on their side. The Crusaders murdered thousands in the name of God. As a matter of fact so many atrocities have been committed throughout history in the name of the all mighty, that it boggles the mind. People need to realize that God does not take sides, he doesn’t have to. It’s really a shame that the majority of people in this country have forgotten the meaning of “One Nation Under God”……Perhaps if we changed it to “Under God we are all One” all this BS would finally end.

  • Paul, seeking wisdom

    One of the most unusual facts of the Testament of the Children of Abraham is the fact that the God who Loved them and Chose them as his own, called down the Babylonians and the Assyrians to enslave them so as to lead them back to Him.
    What if God has sent these same people to cause us to be led back into the correctness of the Gos we claim to serve? I’m not saying that He has, just “What if?”.
    Your God is my God and he has all the Chirldren of Abraham, both those of Blood and those by Adoption in His Hands. Yahweh is Great!

  • William N. Trent

    I am an agnostic and nominally a Methodist, and I can say a hearty ‘Amen’ to the
    Rabbi’s sentiments.

  • Ladyinwaiting

    Thank you and Amen Rabbi for your words of wisdom.
    Currently I’m seeking the Senators voting records in order to make an educated decision… I’m basing my vote on prayer – I am seeking the L-rd’s guidance as I do in all areas of life, and looking at past behaviour of each man, I am also looking at thier wives behaviour past and present.
    Paul, I MUST agree Yahweh is GREAT!


    since the topic is election and how wonderful the candidates are in how the think (sarcasm)wonder why McCain picked a governor who is under suspicion or inditemen because a phone call from her office was made to somebody in relation to a scandel there????
    Poor John McCain keeps shooting himself in the foot so to speak.
    As for the topic-sure G-d is on their side and yours and mine and……

  • Lucy

    This is a very good post Rabbi. I wish our politicians would read it and take it to heart. I am always amazed by the people who insist that “God is on their side.” How can they possibly know? How can so many people be certain that their “way” is the only way to God? Sometimes I suspect that those who are most strident about their beliefs and most dismissive of any other systems, are really very insecure.
    Our faith (whatever it is) should help us to be better, kinder people. It should not be used as a battering ram to force others to do or think what we consider “right.”

  • Lucy Silver

    The issue is so complicated!
    1. Americans are a very religious people. For the red states, vote-getting might involve being a “born-again,” or taking a very firm stance against abortion and same-sex marriages.
    2. Americans are a moral people. For the blue states, vote-getting means taking a stance against an unnecessary war, oposition against the torture of prisoners, illegal wire-tapping for evidence, etc.
    3. When G-d is concerned, can Israel fence in Palestinians and destroy their ability to travel and work? On the other hand, is it wrong to demand a specifically Jewish state where all Jews are forever protected?
    4. Does religious law trump civil law? Is one more “moral” than the other? ie, Does Sharih form a better system? If there is a conflict between religion and civil mandates, how do we act?
    5. What is the connection between acting as a “humane” or “moral” person and being a “religious” person? Seems to me that they might not always coincide.
    6. It seems to me that our culture demands “humand” or “moral” action. How had that come to be defined? The best of humans can be divided as to how to determine the right course of action. For example, I support gay rights to the extent that I believe that no one should be discriminated against for being gay, and that gays should be able to visit each other in the hospital, should be able to comfortably live together, etc. I do put my foot down with the concept of gay marriage because, for whaterer archaic reasons I have, I want the male-female thing.
    I just find it difficult to detrmine exactly where a line is drawn.

  • Marian Carter

    To the previous post “finding it difficult to know where the line is drawn.”
    First, religion is based on how one sees himself as “handling God.” It is man-made and will not last forever.
    God is Spirit, eternal, changeless and unchanging. According to the Allegories of Genesis in the Torah, “Humankind has been made in God’s image-likeness,” and has been given mastery, authority and control over everything on earth – which includes himself as an individualized expression of God.
    For the lack of control over oneself, all sorts of things come out that is accused of being done by God. That thought process is caused by the lack of understanding of the nature of God – which is absolute Good! God is Love. Love as an attribute of God is universal oneness, magnetism, attraction. Attributes of Love is joy, peace, kindness, patience, strength (long-suffering), etc…. An attribute of joy is happiness. Happiness is a human-thought expression when humans begin to believe that there is some power adverse to our good that affects us. The key to knowing about God is He is Omnipresent – all presence, Omnipotent – all power, and Omniscient – all intelligence. God is not sitting on a throne directing things – He is not human, but Spiri
    There is only one Source, one Power in our lives and the universe – God the good, Omnipotent.
    God is Mind and we have consciousness as a three-fold being: Spirit Soul Body. The Soul is the entire mind, consisting of the Super-conscious phase or the I AM (Christ in the New Testament), Conscious phase, where we do our thinking (choose, decide, reject, judges, accepts, denies, etc…), and the Subconscious phase is our feelings and a permanent tape recorder, where every experience, thought, action, etc… is embedded there. We live from our Subconscious phase of mind, and our thoughts show up as our health, our environment, our
    relationships, our finances, our body, etc….
    Our thinking is either based on race-consciousness or deliberate thoughts based on old worn-out thinking or on the Truth about God. A lot of things we think “float into our minds” and we act on them just as if we thought them up – that is race-consciousness (when we fail to set a spiritual agenda for our lives). Of course, if we do not know the nature of God, how can we think thoughts based on the Truth about God?
    “It is through thinking that man has what he has in his life.” Proverbs 23:7. I think we have thought enough wrong thoughts about God. We do not know our relationship to and with God, and we do not know our true nature. Therein lies the crux of the problems we seem to experience. It is a theological crisis we are experiencing where we have violated universal principles in excess. We live in a universe where order is the first law, and we have violated that law (LORD) in excess. The issue is, even when we experience what we call “death,” the soul lives on. If we do not “fix” our thoughts here in our vehicle called our body, we cannot “fix” them out of the body, Therefore, that error thought source contributes to race consciousness even when it has separated from the body.
    Think about Gibran’s The Prophet – “A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.” When that happens, the process begins again.
    Mull over this, if you will. Apparently by your name, you are a Hebrew, and you should know this better than I do as a Gentile who have studied Metaphysics since 1984.

  • Yoshiyyahu Hoffman

    Dear Rabbi Brad Hirschfield,
    I read your article and even enjoyed the way you brought several things out. And as well Marian had some interesting and correct comments. Although I am amazed some of the other comments that are posted here and in other forums. Life is really simple, it is not always simple to get to the real and vital part of issues. Because men as a rule love to hide behind confusion…..especially governments! And therefore the aims of a politician is largely to attract and to divide either when they are running for office or trying achieve some political quest. As far as I am concerned most all politicians use G-d as a bait for the population.
    Why do I say this? Because they do not express the three most essential components in expressing their relationship with the creator. Which I am sure you know as a Rabbi, Chocmah, binah, and Daat (wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.) for me if someone was to ask me what is my relationship with my wife for example, it would be posible to talk all day, not only so you would see that my whole world revolves around her and inter-relates with her in everything my life encompasses. Why do I use this example? Because if a person really has the three components I mentioned then his relationship with the creator will be much the same. As a Jew and a Israeli I will say this, more important than anything anyone else is doing, G-d has promised that he will move the heart of the ruler if the people/nation of Israel adhere to his laws. I think if we are really concerned with the connection of our leaders with G-d then we should first look to ourselves. Just as the real evidence that a person is really studying Torah for HaShems (G-ds) name sake then he will be looking inside his own heart and not at others! I am not getting on a soap box, but I am saying we need to wakeup, we are in very serious problems in our nation and we as a people and a government are sleeping! I am not going to wait to see if a politican is really sincere about his beleif in G-d, but I suggest for myself and everyone else to take a good look inside and then maybe we will see a improvement in things. I am an American by birth and I am sad to say this country from the highest position to the lowest does not have the values or morals it had in the 60’s as I saw it as a child. Even in the times of the Scriptures such as the times of the Kings….. Changes only occured when there was a righteous King in place…… well we dont have that today….. so it is up to US…. the individuals to make a change first, then HaShem will hear our voice and change the heart of the King!

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