God & Republicans

republican debate

So the question went something like this: “Did God speak to you and give you a list of the things you should do on the first day you take office as the next President of the United States?” (Not exactly, but “close enough for folk music” as Theodore Bikel, z”l, used to say when he was tuning his guitar.)

It was near the end of the first Republican Debate and not every candidate got to answer it. I was amazed that the question (which came from a Facebook user) was even asked. I could do a whole riff here just on what the word God means in that sentence. Not that there is anything wrong with inquiring about a candidate belief system, what’s wrong is assuming that believing in God is a marker of how a candidate or a person will behave. It pains me to say this. There are too many “God fearing” people out there whose behavior is far from godly.

Except for Rubio’s joke, that God has blessed the Republican Party with so many good candidates and the Democrats can’t even find one, no one really answered the question well. I wanted to hear someone (all of them) say: My personal belief in God informs the person that I am. It does not inform the person that you are. My faith commands me to respect you and your belief or your non-belief. Just as I have the right to translate my convictions into how I live my personal life, so do you. I believe that God has given us all the right and the responsibility to make our own decisions and I will not use my position as President to force my belief system on yours. And that includes – who you will marry; how many children you may or may not have; whether or not God has chosen this country for a special role in this world; how you live and how you die.

I don’t know about your mind or your heart or wherever you “hear” the word of God, but I know this about mine. Lots of the times, it is hard to know who is speaking. So when I listen, I am really careful how I translate what I hear. When I listen, I try to do so with an abundance of humility, a lot of doubt, and in the spirit of the Rabbis who understood when hearing two sides of an argument: Elu vi-elu – both of these are the words of the living God.

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10 thoughts on “God & Republicans

  1. I am reading The Road to Character by David Brooks and he talks about humility in shaping who we are and become. I often find that humility lives in the people that seem the most spiritual. It seems they have “gotten it.”

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  2. Yes, yes and thank you. I especially love the last line. To use a bit of my vernacular, “that’ll preach.” Of course, I need to learn how to really live into it too. Thanks for this.

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  3. Seeing this post on a friend’s Facebook page has helped me start my day with clear, balanced, loving words. I needed to hear some words like that this morning. Thank you!

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  4. This was passed along via a friend’s Facebook page and it struck me that you, a man of G-d, and Camille Paglia, an atheist, reflect the same idea about respect of others’ belief or non-belief.

    Paglia(in interview with Salon.com): I say in the introduction to my last book, “Glittering Images”, that “Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination.” It exposes a state of perpetual adolescence that has something to do with their parents– they’re still sneering at dad in some way. … I’m speaking here as an atheist. I don’t believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply. All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced. We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system. They see nothing but politics, but politics is tiny. Politics applies only to society. There is a huge metaphysical realm out there that involves the eternal principles of life and death.

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  5. Shared this on Facebook. My family was Texas conservative which is to the right of the right. Tend to know what is best for everyone. It is clear in your blog that your boundaries are drawn closer to home. I have come to your point of view with time and education. Good to see the differences stated so clearly.

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  6. Totally agree, except I do not think that Rubio’s joke was very funny!

    Also, I was offended that God should be used in any way as a litmus test for anyone seeking political office. (What would have happened if any candidate said that “God doesn’t speak to me!”)

    We should separate religion and politics. They are both important – but separately.

    Mel

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  7. It is now a mere 8 months since this blog entry. It is a mote in God’s eye and less than a spec in the vast universe. But the forces DO have a sense of irony and humor. Would you like to re-visit you entry? Larry

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