Voices of Faith: Should faith get very involved in politics?

03/10/2012 12:00 AM

03/06/2012 8:56 PM

Enlightened qualities

Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery, Kansas City, Mo.: Most of our government leaders practice some form of religion. Therefore, if they have the leadership qualities and skills to serve our nation, it shouldn’t matter what religion they practice, as long as they don’t try to impose their religious beliefs upon the decisions they make for their constituents. Nearly all religions encourage moral virtue, compassion and loving-kindness. What better way to lead politically than with these enlightened qualities?

The danger comes when a political leader tries to impose the dogma of his or her religion through legislation. Also, we have seen recently how some religions want to impose their doctrine on legislation. Religion can provide us with a moral and ethical framework from which to make decisions. Today we are a pluralistic nation practicing a variety of religions. The strength of our country lies in its diversity. Our national great seal’s motto is “E Pluribus Unum,” which means “Out of many, one.”

So, rather than adhere strictly to a particular doctrine or philosophy, I would propose instead that we adopt love, compassion and wisdom as our doctrine. I think the great American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox said it best: “So many gods, so many creeds, so many paths that wind and wind, while just the art of being kind is all the sad world needs.”

A need for order

The Rev. R.L. Baynham, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church, Kansas City, Kan.: The assumption here is that everyone knows what politics means. Therefore, we move with an understanding that society needs to interact with such a mind that brings harmony for all to survive. We are people bound by the need for order and collective systems like politics that can bring equality to all.

Christians are a part of the politics. We are compelled to maintain a high moral standard. That standard will have great influence on those who are chosen to establish guides for healthy living and keep the dignity of the Constitution of the United States of America.

Our Founding Fathers and our Constitution sought to keep church and state separate. They established amendments to clearly define the rights of each entity. Christians are to live in such a way that their presence would affect the spirit and attitude of the people of this nation.

Christians are governed by the teachings of the Bible, to be honest, to be moral, to be true and to give generously to people in need. We are to so influence the world around us that those who lead will sense the obligation to bring to the chambers of politics commitments that boost society and help improve the practice of politics. We must become great examples of “good politics.”

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