There are some things I look for when hiring a plumber. I want to know if he knows what he is doing and if he is good at it. I want to know if he is honest, going to show up on time, do quality work, not leave a mess, and charge a fair price for his services. I might want some references, but I won’t ask about his religious affiliation or beliefs.
When I hire (vote for) a president, I want to know something about his character, because if it is seriously flawed, those flaws will be magnified by the power of the office. I want to know about his commitment to the people of the nation and the constitution, because we are his employers and the constitution is his job description. I want to know about his competency, because it’s a gigantic job with new challenges presenting themselves on an almost daily basis.
He needs to be a heck of a visionary leader and manager, a gifted team builder who listens to a variety of advisors, a negotiator who builds relationships with those who oppose his initiatives, a communicator who can hold the confidence of the American people, and a decision maker who can make the hard calls.
I look for Jesus-like character qualities too, like someone who values all individuals, especially those with no clout. But I would not be impressed because he wore a particular religious tag since that is not an indicator of any of the other things I have mentioned.
Unfortunately, what we see of our candidates for elected office is a carefully crafted image, which, by design, involves some deception. It’s like a resume or a job interview in which we try to create the very best possible image and avoid even the slightest hint of flaw. So, we can only guess about their true character. So, all we can do is examine what they have done, rather than just what they say.
We don’t see much personal religious verbiage coming from candidates anymore because it would alienate a large number of people in our increasing secular nation. I believe that it is better to keep it to a minimum, since overall there is too much religious talking and too little religious living.
I have been racking my brain trying to come up with an example of religion and politics merging into something positive, but I can only think of horrible instances, like crusades, inquisitions, totalitarian theocracies, and an emboldened Evangelicalism that left the nation with the bad taste of judgementalism and a lack of compassion.
How you vote will be a reflection of your religious beliefs and your understanding of the role of government. One young adult put it this way, “I believe Democrats want to help people and Republicans want to make things so people can help themselves.”
I thought it was rather brilliant.
Don’t pay attention to the ads, the surrogate campaigners, the professional spin doctors, or the stump speeches. We need to look at actual actions and not political rhetoric to see who most aligns with a Jesus-like lifestyle and has the skills for the world’s most difficult job.
This post is part of a synchroblog on faith and politics.