b The Longhorn Mafia <$BlogRSDURL$>

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Politics: Politics and Religion 

Last night's episode of The West Wing, "In God We Trust," touched on an interesting debate -- the role of religion in politics. Forgetting for a moment the tired -- and constitutionally devoid -- concept of "seperation of church and state," exactly what role should a person's faith play in their ability to govern?

Alan Alda's character wrapped up the GOP nomination last night as the show moved toward its sixth season's finale on April 6. Alda plays Arnie Vinick, a U.S. Senator from California that in some regard comes across as a RiNO (Republican in Name Only). Though the show's writers haven't provided his entire platform, they've made two things clear: he's pro choice and he doesn't seem to hold any Christian/religious beliefs.

In a nutshell, controversy ensues when Vinick's chief GOP rival, a Pat Robertson-esque conservative, declines the VP nod due to Vinick's stance on abortion, and invites the Senator to pray about it in his church that Sunday. This leads to a media firestorm about the lack of Vinick's church attendance. Ultimately, during a closed-door meeting with President Bartlet, Vinick offers up a naive and almost insulting rationale for why he shuns God. Bartlet counters with how his own faith steers his administration, but he agrees that a lack of belief in God shouldn't disqualify a candidate from seeking the Presidency.

I won't get into the very clear agenda the show's writers put forth about conservatives and Christianity, but the question is valid: Should a person's religion act as a prerequisite for public office?

We've never had an openly atheistic or agnostic president, as far as I know. I'm not so naive, though, to realize that mere church attendance on the part of the 43 U.S. Presidents has equated to true faith in the White House. I do believe that President Bush's faith is sincere, and that plays a big part in my support of him.

Faced with a hypothetical like The West Wing is set to present -- a Democrat versus an atheist Republican, I honestly don't know whom I'd vote for. I believe in American Exceptionalism and I think that our country's foundation, built on Judeo-Christian values, has made that happen. Though we are tolerant of all beliefs, America has by and large always placed its trust in God and there is no doubt in my mind that His grace is why we have bested evil time and again, and now sit as the world's lone superpower.

To answer the question: no, I don't think a lack of faith should disqualify a candidate from running for President. But it does play a role and it's an important one, and if it's cause for people to pull their support then so be it. I'm a conservative and I'm a Republican, but before those things I'm a Christian. I want my President to reflect my core beliefs, and to me that goes beyond lower taxes and a strong defense.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?