Friday, June 08, 2007

Presidential Faith

It's been a few days, but I wanted to write a few thoughts about the democratic candidate forum on faith and politics that happened on Monday. It lined up John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton moderated by Soledad O'Brien in a special edition of the Situation Room on CNN.

I was disappointed that it allowed each candidate fifteen minutes to talk about topics so big as faith and poverty. However, I was pleased with what each candidate had to say and learned a little bit about their faith lives.

Edwards and Clinton were both asked to address their prayer lives. Edwards was asked about how he distinguishes between God's voice and his own voice in disguise. He laughed and said that he prays daily for the strength to hear God's voice and to do God's will. Edwards spoke more about his personal faith than the other two and had a lot to say about how he has experienced things as a person of faith. He made the distinction between personal faith and the responsibility of the president, saying that it is important for all faith beliefs to be recognized and that the government can not dictate decisions by faith institutions, such as the right for gay marriage. He displayed a lot of ambition towards eliminating poverty, which Jim Wallis referred to as a Biblical Priority. Edwards said as president that it would be necessary to mobilize the nation and take concrete steps such as a living wage, opening poverty centers for education and action, organizing unions, and universal health care. He called for a plan that would eliminate poverty in 30 years. Ambitious but smart.

Clinton whose second question dealt with the infidelity in her marriage handled the the issue of faith slightly differently. She acknowledged that her faith played a major role in getting her through the tough times and that her faith was tested. Admitting to be extremely private about her faith, she said that she was was raised in a tradition where she learned to be suspicious of people who wear their faith on their sleeves. However, she believes it is essential be grounded in faith. When asked what she prays, she said prayer is a daily part of her life where she prays for discernment, strength, friends, encouragement. She also admits to pray for trivial and self serving things. For the privacy she displays, she also shows that she has considered and reflected about her actions in relation to her faith.

Obama who landed between Edwards and Clinton in the discussion took a different approach to the conversation. He was asked if God takes sides. He referenced Abraham Lincoln and said that we should be asking if God is on our side, but if we are on God side, ware we following God's dictates. He acknowledge the theological issue of good vs. evil and said that evil does exist in our world and that we have to act against it forcefully. He said of the theory of just war, "simply because we've engaged in something just does not mean we do not act unjustly." He discussed this in relation to the Palestinians and Israel, saying that it is hard to get out of the immediate anger of a situation, but that is where faith can say forgive. While making small references to faith, he did not speak about his personal faith like the others. He spoke more of moral obligations than of faith issues.

Overall it was a positive event, and hope that this opens up the public forum for faith in politics.

2 comments:

Chrissy Joy said...

Ryan tells me there are typos in this post. I apologize.

Chrissy Joy said...

Ryan tells me there are typos in this post. I apologize.