As Jim Wallis announced last week, we’re pleased to be hosting a forum of the leading Democratic presidential candidates at our Pentecost 2007 conference (and hoping to do a Republican candidates forum later this year). We’ve invited several of our bloggers to discuss their questions for the candidates, but we’re also asking our readers to submit their questions, and will let YOU vote on the ones we should use!
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Since in one way or another they all reference some level of spiritual interest, if not outright commitment, the obvious question would be, “In what ways does your faith influence your political opinions, agenda, and rhetoric?”

But since every candidate has an a priori answer carefully crafted for this exact question, which would certainly fall within the parameters of what each candidate’s staff deems an appropriately elusive and/or encompassing response, and since they all espouse a Christian faith, I would rather ask them:

  • How do you determine which imperatives and examples of both the Old and New Testaments will proactively shape your political and personal convictions? What are the criteria you use that gives some teaching, instruction, or narrative more clout than another?
  • Can an American politician publicly argue for the inherent worth of a fetus, referencing Psalm 139, and at the same time believe that women should be given the opportunity to terminate a pregnancy?
  • Assuming that no pacifist would, or even could, become president of the United States, when is there a right time to use force to stop violence, or injustice, or evil? Without turning the question into an indictment of how the current administration failed, what is your criteria for making the choice to use military force?
  • Under what conditions is the free enterprise system and basic market economics “fair?” And, at the same time, when does too much assistance promote a disempowering effect?
  • What is the best way to grant people a sense of worth and power?

Obviously, if we get the same shot at the Republicans, the questions would be slightly different!

Chap Clark is president of ParenTeen, a senior editor for Youthworker Journal, a professor of youth, family, and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Red Letter Christian.

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