First of all, let me say that I believe having religion is important. Religion, in my opinion, is having a relationship with the divine force. Faith is the expression of that relationship with the divine. Morality is the behavioral standard that we apply to ourselves when interacting with the world around us. Unfortunately, we have forgotten or lost perspective of several important things.
Religion is something one has to find within themselves. Until someone experiences that specific moment where they find their own “proof” for the divine force, it will always be foreign for them. That person might know what to say to sound like a believer, but don’t feel it. They might surround themselves with religious people and the symbols of the faith, but that doesn’t instill faith automatically. Judging, condemning or shouting at people who don’t believe isn’t going to help anything. Telling them they have the wrong faith unless they share yours is even more spiritually damaging. Emphasizing or implying one is better than another is also misguided. I also think that a great deal of emphasis has been giving to religious symbols. Faith shouldn’t be threatened by the presence of some symbols or the absense of others. Destruction or desecration of those symbols, although disrespectful, doesn’t destroy faith because faith is something inside you.
Does the absense of religion mean that person can’t function within our government? Not necessarily. Should they still be aware of religions? Yes. Can you be a leader in the government with it? Yes. Can you be a leader in the government without it? Yes. While the presense of faith may influence decisions, the main premise behind a democracy is representing the people. You obviously can’t please everyone, but you also have to take other peoples’ viewpoints (including religious ones) into consideration. Having faith as a leader does not mean using it exclusively to find direction or make decisions. Leaders who reinforce their beliefs exclusively through their position of power carry the appearance of a dictator.
Finally, I think the problem with religion in politics now is based on the fact that religion is worn as clothing. It is being used to disguise a candidate to make them appear acceptable to a group of people the candidate believes will help them win votes. Religion is a beautiful thing, and in my mind, flawless. The flaw is in how it is exploited and manipulated by those who claim to practice it. Essentially, another layer of the “say one thing, do another” mentality that has most voters fed up with our current political system. Sen. Larry Craig is just another example. Tell the public what you think it wants to hear, even if your current lifestyle doesn’t jibe.
*****side comments on current presidential candidates
Most candidates don’t strike me as being particularly religious, at least visibly. The only talk I have heard or read about religion in the presidential race is about Mitt Romney (Mormon) and Barack Obama (Islam). It seems that some voters are deadset against either of these two because they aren’t Christian. That strikes me as incredibly misguided. What if Christian were a minority faith? Would it make sense to rule them out, simply because of that? Or are people just looking for ways to split the US vs. THEM thing? Bush, who seems relatively open embracing his Christianity(Methodist, if I remember correctly….although I have heard “born again” which strikes me as being generally more fundamental or charismatic for the Methodist line of thought.) His decisions have obviously colored his decisions on legislation. It’s even to the point where his view is the minority, yet it gets pushed through as law. Stem cell research. Case & Point. I just don’t see how that makes us any better off than a more balanced leader. Of course, Bush never tried to mend any bridges after capturing just enough votes to win the election. A true leader would have reached out to the 49% of the vote that didn’t vote for him. Low voter turn out should have reinforced his need to reach out.
Of course, the other side of the coin is that Democratic frontrunner Sen. Hilary Clinton could spend the rest of her life claiming to be whatever religion she wanted to. There is still no way I could believe that she have the spiritual substance having been involved with so many questionable legal dealings. Bill Clinton didn’t do us any favors either. A man who can’t respect the marriage vow doesn’t strike me as one who can be trusted to lead the country. I swear the only difference between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush sometimes is that Gee Dubya wasn’t as good of a liar as Clinton.
Would someone please tell me that this next election WON’T be another vote for the lesser of two evils again!!?!