Faith: the strongest motive to serve

In recent debates between tea party endorsed Senate candidates and their Democratic opponents, faith has emerged as a campaign issue. … Continued

In recent debates between tea party endorsed Senate candidates and their Democratic opponents, faith has emerged as a campaign issue.
 
Calling himself “a pro-life Christian” in opening remarks, Kentucky candidate Rand Paul said, “I’m disheartened that my opponent has chosen to attack my religious beliefs,” referring to Jack Conway’s campaign ad that questioned Paul’s beliefs on the bible, faith-based initiatives and ‘Aqua Buddha.’ (For more on ‘Aqua Buddha’ click here.)

 
In the Delaware debate between Senate candidates, Christine O’Donnell said, “I would argue there are more people who support my Catholic faith than his Marxist beliefs,” alluding to a column written by Chris Coons two decades ago which he characterizes as ‘a joke.’

With polls showing that voters rank the economy as a top issue, why are the faith lives of candidates up for debate?

Contrary to the notion that politics and religion don’t mix, they are actually inextricably linked. No matter how hard a society may try to carefully separate the secular state from the Church, questions of religion and faith will continue to assert themselves in our political life, sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways.

Our American system of government rightly rejects a religious test for public office. A person’s denomination should not disqualify him or her from being elected.

But that’s not the same as saying that the voters don’t care what their elected representatives believe. They do care, not because there’s a state-endorsed religion, but rather because one’s faith shapes one’s life. As much as politicians may want to say, “This is my personal belief, but it is independent of my public actions,” the commonsense reality is that each person is a single individual with a single conscience. Faith shapes how one evaluates right and wrong, how one handles adversity, how one fights the temptation to do wrong, and how one carries out a public trust.

It is from this conviction that the famous line in the Northwest Ordinance springs: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education should forever be encouraged.”

Faith, ultimately, provides the strongest motive to serve. We don’t call those who hold political office “public servants” for nothing. And when we elect them, it is comforting to know that, whatever model it may be, the engine that fuels that service is strong and functioning well.

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  • Secular

    Frank Pravone, your pronouncements are a far cry from what JFK had stated, almost to date, some 50 years ago. You go on to claim “Faith shapes how one evaluates right and wrong, how one handles adversity, how one fights the temptation to do wrong, and how one carries out a public trust”. Really faith tells you when it is OK to pimp your wife and when not to, and when to dump your baby mama and not right? In my secular way the answers to both these predicaments is “NO”. But your faith does not give that a clear answer or does it.Then you conclude with this gibberish, “Faith, ultimately, provides the strongest motive to serve. We don’t call those who hold political office “public servants” for nothing. And when we elect them, it is comforting to know that, whatever model it may be, the engine that fuels that service is strong and functioning well”. Are you so ignorant as to make such an assertion, do you really think all the Pols in Japan are motivated by their faith, which is non-existent, Or for that matter most of western Europe. Or do you think these pols are not public servants. Or do you think they are not motivated to do service. you are the prime example of my contention that the priest class is nothing but a bunch of ignoramuses, with nothing economical to contribute to the society other than being the parasitic leeches.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    These sentiments are the opposite of wisdom. Elected leaders are leaders of everyone, not just a few people of a particfular religion. If we are going to choose them by religion, then CATHOLIC would be a religon that I think should be excluded from the list to choose from, becasue I have a very severe gripe with the Catholic Church’s aggressive anti-gay angenda.

  • ThishowIseeit

    We must understand that there are three type of catholics: the fundies, the freethinkers and freeacting and the ones in between. JFK was a ” don’t tell what to do” catholic.

  • Auslander1

    The only directive of Jesus is to love one another, and yet most Christians routinely reject this advice. The Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly and steadfastly proclaimed that abortion, divorce, and contraception are forbidden practices, yet most Catholics igore that advice. The Book of Leviticus contains over 600 ritual laws that are specifically cited as requisites for all devout Jews (as well as, one might argue, all Fundamentalist Christians) yet those laws are routinely rationalized and jettisoned by virtually every believer.So, for the most part, it seems to me that it is not easy to tell what a person actually believes, simply by knowing what brand of faith he claims to pledge allegiance to.

  • CHAOTICIAN101

    Religious beliefs are only relevant if a candidate claims they are the source of his lack of reasoning and/or indicates a bit of reality that has been dogmatically decided without facts or thinking! Fundamentally, faith based dogma is useless and counter productive in any culture and completely opposed to good governance! Any candidate or leader who claims to be using his religion or his politics or his nationalism to make decisions is being a bad candidate or leader; whenever anyone becomes closed to information for whatever reason; that person is diminished!

  • cornbread_r2

    No matter how hard a society may try to carefully separate the secular state from the Church, questions of religion and faith will continue to assert themselves in our political life, sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways. — Frank Pavone Interesting choice of words and word order. Note that it’s the secular state that is being separated As much as politicians may want to say, “This is my personal belief, but it is independent of my public actions,” the commonsense reality is that each person is a single individual with a single conscience. Faith shapes how one evaluates right and wrong, how one handles adversity, how one fights the temptation to do wrong, and how one carries out a public trust. — FP If that’s true, how do you explain the fact that more than 2 years after Catholics became a majority on the US Supreme Court abortion is still legal in this country?

  • joy1_1

    hello all of you i think its better for us only one think all of the human being which living this world and the thing i am saying is all of the human being to respect other’s beliefs bcos its not great deal to know one’s religion or opinion about his/her reliogeus issue bcos i want to live together all human being with out problem we need stable hearts each one of us do what ever you want but forget human casual or to force ur opinion others

  • FarnazMansouri2

    The religions of office holders vary. It is not only Catholics and Protestants who hold office; I would imagine that aside from Hindus, Jews, Muslims, B’hai, there are adherents of other religions and atheists.I don’t care, and, in fact, I don’t want to know how many glasses of urine someone drinks every day. Religion is a private affair.Keep it out of the government, and I’m fine.Separate church and state, and I’ll be better.

  • dwickert51

    We must get the good Catholics into political office and outlaw abortion, divorce, contraception and punish the young girls whoring.

  • GSeeker

    First of all, congratulations Father Pavone for now having a voice in the secular media. American religious people are Americans too and have a voice along with all the others. This defines America The Great, guaranteeing the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. Like the saying goes “All evil needs to thrive is for good people to do nothing”. And this rings true especially in politics, where the worst evils of humanity have taken shape, either in the form of nazism, communism or other genocidal ideologies, including state sponsored abortion now making its way into state sponsored euthanasia.