God’s Politics

Is God a politician? If it is, it must be in a league of one. As a politician, how does God sort out links and bonds it wants to cultivate with struggling Liberals, triumphant NDP, and the winners of last election - much hated by some?

Those of us non-politicians – not professional politicians anyway, can pick the God we want to worship and follow the path it dictates. Ordinary citizens can do whatever they want in this area. But how about those who run for, or hold political positions in our society?

Here is Rick Santorum, struggling with this issue. I quote “How is it possible, I wonder, to believe in the existence of God yet refuse to express outrage when His moral code is flouted?” Santorum said in a ’90s-era speech at the Heritage Foundation. “To have faith in God, but to reject moral absolutes?” (Source: CNN).

Let us not hung up on the notion that his Catholic god is a supernatural man with all the relevant male paraphernalia. Instead, let us consider the few important issues that surface in his musings.

Firstly, there is an implicit assumption the moral absolutes of the Catholic faith are the only absolute norms, or that they are the ‘right’ moral touchstones. Secondly, how should a politician handle the case where he or she will have to serve various groups of the electorate with their Gods dictating different moral absolutes? Thirdly, do religions qualify for the task, at all, to give us - humanity at large, universal moral absolutes?

The issue of people, with deep religious believes deciding to run for political office, is not unique to the United States. Here in Canada we have millions of citizens - an estimate only, who do not share the religious faith of our Prime Minister. Most of us may not even make the effort to find out what that might be.

Since elected politicians have the duty to serve the interests of not only those who voted for them but all electorates, conflicts may arise. Do they have the liberty of using their faith to shape their politics? How should they resolve their personal moral standards with the potentially conflicting, varied moral codes of the electorate?

Is the politician who supports policies and legislation that violate the doctrines of his or her faith, a hypocrite, or a sinner? For example, consider the cases of same-sex marriages, gay and lesbian rights, abortion, and others. Few religions evolved to the point where they could embrace these propositions. Another case could be protecting the rights of minorities who did not even have candidates to represent their cause.

Success of western democracies provides us empirical evidence that citizens of free societies need to accept shared, well-defined moral codes that govern their societal conduct. We recognize Christianity’s role in helping western societies in defining core values that all citizens – regardless of faith, can accept. Canadian constitution defines moral codes of conduct for Canadian citizens. These codes may have historical, or evolutionary relation to religious teachings and moral codes. However, it is not the Christian God that enforces them but the Canadian legal system – including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their provincial sisters. This means then that politicians and Canadian citizens live by a set of public moral codes - and at the same time, by a set of private moral codes.

We can answer the question now ‘Can a Catholic politician vote for legalizing abortion?’ Legalizing abortion is not the same as recommending abortion.

As a private citizen, he or she is free not to ever have an abortion. However, our politician does not have the authority to enforce others not to have abortion – once the choice to be able to have one became law. It is our personal human right to choose to be homosexual, heterosexual or none of the above.

Each one of us has the freedom to explain and offer our views to others to consider, but none of us has the authority to force our faith-based or other views on others. This is what our democratic Canadian society is about.

Politicians, who support policies and laws that give the freedom of choice to citizens while those policies contradict their personal moral codes, are not hypocrites and do not ‘sin’ – in my judgment. Rather, they create the conditions for developing and evolving a democratic society. Further, they do not have to put up a ‘sealed off’ wall between their private life and public life, and thus conduct a schizophrenic existence. They should be able to practice their faith as anybody else does.

There is convincing evidence though that suggests letting political power fuse with religious doctrines undermines developing and preserving cooperative, tolerant societies. "My message is, if you all don't accept Islam, you're going to hell.”

Osmakac, the Kosovo-born American citizen who were plotting bomb attacks around Tampa, told us. (By NEBI QENA, TAMARA LUSH, The Associated Press, Updated: January 14, 2012. Note: Ahmed Bedier, a Muslim community activist and radio host, reported Osmakac's behaviour to authorities more than a year and a half ago.)

About the writer:

Send me your comments sdeak@rogers.com. Or visit my Website http://istvandeak.com for other related stories.


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