Friday, July 26, 2013

Pushing religion misses the point

David Young, a declared Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, used a speech to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition to lay out his idea on how to solve the “problem” of Washington, D.C.
    He looks forward to winning the primary and the general election, Young told the coalition, so he can invite New York Sen. Chuck Schumer to lunch where he can share the good news of Jesus Christ.
    Sadly, he was not kidding.
    One can imagine that Schumer, born in Brooklyn in a middle-class Jewish neighborhood to Jewish parents, would be surprised, annoyed and even angered by the presumptuousness of Young’s plan.
    A liberal Democrat, his policy positions seem to reflect Jewish requirements to treat all people fairly and care for the poor. Schumer’s personal faith is irrelevant, but for Young to imply that Schumer needs religious awakening is absurd and harmful.
    Imagine the uproar at the Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering were Indiana Congressman Andre Carson and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, both practicing Muslims, to announce that their elections were a call to share their beliefs about Mohammed with, say, Congressman Chuck Grassley, Young’s boss. Fortunately, all of these religiously faithful men seem uninterested in using their offices to convert others to their faith, focusing instead on their constituents’ temporal needs.
    Candidate Young’s comment completely misses the point.
    Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Sihk, Hindu and Buddhist, all are faiths available to Americans. If the more traditional religious practices do not meet spiritual needs, Americans have proven themselves perfectly capable of creating others. Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Christ Scientist, Seventh Day Adventist, Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and even atheists are all creations of those who chose to find their own answers.
    Americans have always practiced politics from a secular perspective. Article VI, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution reads: No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
    The Founding Fathers decided to avoid the disaster of European religious wars by sidestepping all discussion of whose religion is best.
    Representatives of the people are elected to meet, whether at lunch or in legislative chambers, to hammer out how to ensure the health, safety and security of their constituents.
    Spiritual matters are to be left to the Sabbath, no matter how that day is defined.

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