Faith or Belief in What?

Someone has to help me because I am truly confused. Rick Warren said that “we believe in the separation of … Continued

Someone has to help me because I am truly confused.

Rick Warren said that “we believe in the separation of church and state but not separation of faith and politics.”

So, at the end of the forum at Saddleback Church, what was the verdict? Who has the “best” or most viable faith, Obama or McCain? I mean, whose faith makes the best politics?

Karen Armstrong has said that faith is not what one believes. In “The History of God,” she wrote that “beliefs are a set of propositions and faith enables us to put our trust in them.” It seems that the “set of propositions” that both McCain and Obama were asked were American policy, and at the end, we were to choose which American we believed was the better, which American had the set of beliefs that we trust more.

OK. At least the forum wasn’t about God.

McCain was truly “at home” with the Saddleback community, and Obama, noticeably less so. McCain was comfortable and conversational, while Obama was not. McCain pandered to the congregation, but Obama could not seem to connect. It was uncomfortable to watch.

It seemed that McCain “got it,” what this event was all about. McCain, speaking more to the congregation than to Pastor Rick, was making connections with the people, his people, I guess, who have not entirely trusted him.

He needed to let them know that he was truly an Evangelical, that he was right on the war question, on the abortion question, on the matter of judges that are too liberal. Any conservative worth his salt has to come down right on those issues, and McCain understood. He did very well.

Obama, on the other hand, really thought it was about God! He really thought the event was about his religious beliefs! He talked about “the least of these,” because any good Christian knows that Jesus mandates that we care about them. And he talked about the right of a woman to choose whether or not she will have an abortion …because women have brains and can make decisions.

McCain lifted up General Petraeus as one person he would listen to intently were he president, while Obama lifted up his wife and grandmother … That’s nice and all, but good Americans are not interested in what your wife and grandmother would say. This thing is about America, not your family…

Obama would not have nominated Clarence Thomas to be a United States Supreme Court judge. Well, Americans — that is, conservative Americans — don’t know why not! He’s a good one, that Clarence. He understands America and American’s values. You won’t find him voting for Affirmative Action and all that crazy stuff. Nope, can’t trust you, Mr. Obama.

When McCain said that he would put his country first, he said it with such passion that it brought tears to my eyes. By golly, he is a real American! God is nice and all of that but in the end … it’s about America!

I love America. Don’t get me wrong. But I was confused about this forum being in a church and the interrogator being a clergy person. That made me think that it was about God, and, because I am a Christian, Christian values. That concerned me, because I thought there was supposed to be separation between church and state, ala the Bill of Rights.

But Pastor RIck cleared it up when he said it was about faith and politics, and when remembered how Karen Armstrong defined the difference between “beliefs” and “faith,” well, I relaxed. I got it.

And at the end of the day, when the forum was over, I had to think about America, not God, and make a decision about which candidate had the beliefs I trust more.

Hmmmm. The jury is still out.

Susan K. Smith
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  • Chynia Dickerson


  • S. Fosua

    I wonder if God ever feels “used”? This feels like one of those times that so-called, well-meaning Christians found it convenient to “use” God, faith, and religion for political ends. Unfortunately, I do not perceive that these same people would appeal to faith to justify uncomfortable ethical decisions — THEN it would be a matter of separating faith and politics!

  • Peter S

    Susan:If the jury is still out, I will take that to mean that you are a liberal and though McCain was compelling, you are still beholden to the Democratic party for some reason.McCain has nothing to loose, a life full of real experience, and strong (Christian alligned) convictions, Obama really wants to be President badly. I believe that his philanthropic promises and rhetoric will fall short.

  • L.Kurt Engelhart

    “McCain said that he would put his country first”To quote McCain himself, he is only saying this because of his ambition to become president.

  • BGone

    Come now. Faith and belief aren’t the same thing. Why do they have two words for one thing?Here we are in crisis state with unhappy rich folks. What are we going to do about unhappy rich folks? Now there’s something both belief and faith can do for us, make rich folks happy. Do you believe, have faith God will come through and make rich people happy?Awe crapola. They don’t even know what rich is. Neither candidate for the second highest office on earth president of the USA which is just one giant step below below pastor couldn’t tell us what rich is. So how can we ever expect to make rich people happy when we can’t even identify them. And how does senator McCain know there are unhappy rich folks if he doesn’t know what rich is?The government must help God out in God’s charter to make rich folks happy. We know rich folks like money even though it doesn’t make them happy in the present quantities they have. So we can do a “faith based initiative” and the government can just give them a lot more money. Both candidates said they are in favor of that.Do you believe in, is your faith in faith based initiatives? If your faith is not in, you do not believe in faith based initiatives you have no one to vote for. In that case write in BGONE.

  • Esau

    I felt Obama did really well. McCain had to make up a story to pull on the audience emotions. Yes, I believe he made up the story about the guy drawing the cross in the dirt. The story about the guy drawing the cross in the dirt was stolen from a guy named Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The book came out in 1962, however mccain was a POW from 1967 to 1973. How sad. Did McCain not think he would get caught?

  • Louis

    I don’t know and you don’t either whether Harold is an imbecile . However, he IS really good at copying and pasting from the bible, lol.

  • Louis

    Although I believe that this forum was legal according to the Constitution, it is my feeling that it was inappropriate. The candidates religious views should have no bearing on their fitness for office. Sounds like a sneeky way to get around the “no religious test required for office.” Will we have a forum from the Buddhists, Muslims, etc.?

  • Roy

    Interesting how Smith can cast stones at Warren while she supports Black Liberation in churches and apologizes for the racist Reverend Wright.

  • Gaby

    And the rest of the developed world is laughing at America and the American public who are more concerned with the religious beliefs of their so-called leaders than their political platforms which are far more important.In the big scheme of things, the abortion, homosexuality, and other “Christian” issues are non-events.And, HAROLD, you are an imbecile!

  • Terra Gazelle

    McCain will go to a Warrior for wisdom? So what kind of wisdom does that warrior have? He may have knowlwedge about war, but is that life wisdom? That view of helping others came from somewhere…that person who raised a black child to be the remarkable man he is. I would love to meet TuTu and gain from her knowledge and experience….that thing called wisdom.Michelle is a lower, middle class girl, raised in a one bedroom apartment, whose father was handicapped but who worked each and every day… Michelle saw that endurance and work ethic and she used it . She went to school and got the best education she could… majored in sociology at Princeton University, graduating with cum laude honors in 1985. From there she attended Harvard where she earned her law degree in 1988. She is a wonderful mom who is raiseing amazing girls. She is down to earth and has a great deal of commonsence and wisdom. If you have wisdom you can make it fit anywhere. McCain is a man with two many homes and too much money, maybe he can buy wisdom…the rest of us have to find it in those we are close to and what we find in ourselves. We each have “experts” we go to…then we have to make our decisions on what those experts say…we have to find wisdom. Hopefully our president will have someone besides a man of war to go to when trying to make a decision on how to bring peace.terra

  • Agki Strodon

    ” This thing is about America, not your family…”Oh, yes, it IS about family. Family is the fons et origo of our natures as individuals and it creates us. A president should not look to his wife or grandmother or uncle or cousin for advice on an issue unless that person is an expert on that issue. A president, or anyone else, should look to his family for the empathy and understanding of what effects his/her decisions may have on people.

  • Donna W.

    Karen Armstrong can cloak the “separation of church and state” in any language that she wants, but I want a candidate who truly cares for the people and not one who says what he knows he should say to win the separatist, I mean the conservative vote.I am tired of this political posturing that makes America’s “moral” issues about abortion, gay marraige, etc. and not about the lack of adequate healthcare for the poor, systemic poverty, the lack of quality education for all students, etc.When will America wake up and understand that the separatist, “conservative” policies of the fundamentalists have done nothing for America, but create a chasm among her people. And they call this moral!

  • Dr. Cynthia

    I am not sure when the lines blurred between church and state-religion and politics.Maybe it began when Pontius Pilate, a politician, brought Jesus out before the crowd to determine if he should be put to death or pardoned.Both Senators are working hard to walk the line, the blurred one between church and state, religion and politics, truth and rhetoric. It may help those who need to make a decision from the middle to see the candidates hang out there in the neutral spaces.It is a good thing God is everywhere, even in the blurred, neutral spaces. I will just continue to pray… “Your will be done.

  • ozzie smith

    Amen Susan! I did not watch the Saddleback forum. I find the distinction between church and state and faith and politics interesting although it sounds like relativism revisited. That Mccain got it and Obama missed it does not surprise me as this is the way it is with these two–polar opposites politically and otherwise. This campaign is doing its own brand of social surgery on this nation and I believe we will recover after the political hubris dust has settled. Conservative and liberal seem to be code for other stuff now that race realities have surfaced again. Neither candidate will do much more in office than has already been done and most recently undone by the present administration. I am reminded afresh that in Washington, nothing gets taller than the monument. Thanks for sharing the event because I chose not to watch it.

  • chandler talleur

    amen to that sister