Friday, October 22, 2004

Our Mission in the Political Season
Frank Kaufmann
October 21, 2004

Just days remain before we choose who will lead us and who will represent our great nation at home and to the world for the next four years. This decision is monumental, not just for America, but for the world. Today’s America has an historically unprecedented degree of power that ultimately will affect the life of every nation and every person in the world. For this reason, our vote should not be made in confusion, or based on a struggling effort to form a political opinion. People of conscience and Godly people should possess unwavering confidence that they are voting in accordance with the will of the one, true God, the God who loves all people endlessly. Because America is a nation that exerts such formidable power and influence, the living God surely must desire that our country go in a direction that will lead its citizens and the world to goodness and divine love.

In one way or another, for good or for ill, America will pull the whole world in some enduring direction. We live in a time in which military, communications, environmental, and health implications in each passing day are so ponderous and so fragile, that we cannot afford an error this time at the polls. People of God cannot be left to confusion or guesswork. It is the mission of religious leaders to take the lead and guide the nation in the right direction in this crucial time in history.

But what is the correct way for religion and religious leaders to manage this fearsome responsibility? All agree that we feel defiled when we see spiritual leaders out stumping for some candidate or another, and sinking to crass levels of partisan bickering and one upsmanship. There is something disingenuous about it all. The hard edge and the dubious ethical and moral exercise of political combat are unbecoming to spiritual leaders. We cringe whenever we see this abrogation of position, and we lose the sense of a leader as genuinely spiritual when these lines are churlishly crossed. Yet worse is the religious person who fails to recognize that even God above has a clear stake in political outcomes. A great and powerful nation like America can do great good, but it also can bring the world to harm, devastation, and irreversible moral or environmental degradation.

By what means can we fulfill our responsibility as moral and spiritual guides during the all-important political considerations brought before the electorate during these coming days, without violating the essential dignity required of religious leaders? This is the question we must answer quickly, and then jump into action with urgency, and great seriousness and energy.

Religious leaders and the religions of America must do two things to direct the upcoming election in a heavenly direction, and we must do them quickly, passionately, confidently, and courageously. These are: 1. clearly identify the preeminent issue for the country, and the world at this time, and 2. lay aside all religious division so as to act in accord to help all voters clearly grasp the paramount values that must be upheld and applied in the selection of our president. Fortunately both tasks integrate naturally yielding a single, harmonious course of action. But time is of the essence.

Presidential contests rightfully revolve around several distinct constellations of issues that impact the lives of voters, these include domestic issues such as education, taxation, health, civil and human rights and others, and foreign policy issues that will chart how our nation will conduct itself in the family of nations, and with regard to the environment we share with all others.

It is natural that different concerns attract the attention of different individuals or voting blocks. What a unified community of religious believers can provide in such a context is a way for voters to prioritize their concerns from this multitude of issues, when considering the candidates. Thus instead of pointing out historical data, voting records and other important elements for deciding, a multi-religious leadership force can guide and identify a commonly agreed upon order of importance from among these emphases on which to evaluate the candidates. This very act of many religions coming together to embrace a shared hierarchy of values will itself be a balm over the rancorous partisanship which poisons the air during election season. It can be a force to bring our nation together in one heart and quicken our purpose to realize the one most precious ideal in our country, namely that we are “one nation under God."

This year the Iraq war has dominated the campaign discourse. On the domestic side, the classic and enduring debates continue to revolve around health and economy. The all-important issue of education has not attracted the same passion as health costs, and the solvency of social security.

But careful students of the great bloodless battle in this campaign have noticed a sleeping giant rousing beneath the surface. This is the issue of family and the moral direction of the country. At no point in the final debate could the difference between the candidates be more strongly and clearly felt than when each candidate was asked to speak on such issues as family, homosexual unions, and other matters of intimate moral intuition.

On issues which supposedly dominate, (such as Iraq, the economy etc.) one is hard pressed to identify a bright line of difference between the candidates. On the matter of family and moral and sexual definitions for America's future however, differences are stark and evident. The choice of candidate in THIS arena is a vote clearly for distinct and different directions for our country's future.

While pundits rightly note that this election truly matters, they tend to ground their analyses in secondary issues. The rise and fall of nations, especially history's mighty and unconquerable powers have always hinged on the stability and health of the family and the protection of sexual propriety, dignity and vaulted moral values.