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Religion: an important factor or not in presidential race?


The Christian Chronicle asked readers about the importance, if any, of candidates’ religious beliefs and affiliations in the presidential race. The informal survey related specifically to Republican hopeful Fred Thompson, whose Church of Christ roots have drawn interest among many members.
A sampling of readers’ responses:
“I truly believe that all Christians should be vitally interested in the religious views of all the candidates. It would be highly desirable to know whether or not a candidate is in a relationship that give would voters and citizens a reasonable confidence that his prayers were actually being heard.” – Rick Bloodworth, Happy, Texas
“We are to be ‘in the world and not of the world” and to think politically seems the ultimate of thinking worldly. While David Lipscomb argued forcefully and cognately that we are citizens of another kingdom, we have been left in this world. And while the answer to our world’s problems is not found in politics, it does seem to ignore that which might aid us in our efforts to evangelize the world would be foolish. I am thankful for good men who are in politics and there are probably more good men in that service than most often we acknowledge. It seems we should not evaluate even the opportunity to vote as the world would. Our votes should be for whoever has a godly, moral character.” – Dale Jenkins, Spring Hill, Tenn.
“Politicians lie. I’m more interested in a potential officeholder’s stand on political issues than in his or her religious background. Will he or she help or hurt the country and its citizens?” – Billie Silvey, Los Angeles
“The fact that any candidate might or might not be a member of the Churches of Christ does not influence my vote apart from the specific public policies he or she might espouse, nor should it. It is sectarian folly at its worst to vote simply on the basis of a politician’s membership in the Churches of Christ.” – Shaun Casey, Fairfax, Va.
“I believe it does matter what Fred Thompson’s religious background is, for that influences his view on many things, just as a Mormon’s, Catholic’s or Muslim’s religious roots would color his or her thinking. I would also like to know his level of religious commitment, which would say a lot about his seriousness in moral and ethical realms, as well. I hasten to add that the religious convictions, and dedication to those convictions, of all of the candidates, Republican and Democrat, should be a matter of public knowledge. No aspect of their life is more important to their outlook than their religious background.” – Glover Shipp, Edmond, Okla.
“I believe I would want to know more about Fred Thompson’s practices because they will be indicative of the man he is. As a potential president, he has stepped into the public eye voluntarily and opened himself up to be evaluated for the office. While being a good Christian man will not necessarily make one a good president, it certainly is as good a starting place as any.” – Nolan Rutter, Clinton, Mo.
“Fred Thompson may very well be a good candidate for president. Or not. But that should be decided based on his positions on the issues, not on what church he grew up in or where he is physically on Sunday morning.” – Michael May, Eagan, Minn.
“From my perspective in west Texas, it seems to me that: The measure of a person is comparing the claims of belief to the practices of belief. It is important to know if there is substance or convenience in the judgments, actions and relationships of those who govern; especially for those who aspire to be the president of the United States.” – Bill Brant, Abilene, Texas
“Not to be sacreligiuos, but he is not running for ‘Pope’ of the church, he is running for President of the U.S.A. His stands on issues important to us are what matters, not where he hangs his hat on Sunday mornings. What we should question is will he continue to stand strong on issues that involve value judgments. Regardless of the religious leanings of our leaders, it is our duty to respect them (I Peter 2:13-17).” – Louise Venkatesan, Silver Spring, Md.
“I do not care about his attendance or affiliation in any church. I am concerned that in situations like this we have a temptation to lose the centrality of the cross. I am especially concerned that lost souls will connect us with a particular political view. Neither Fred Thompson nor the Republican Party was crucified for me.” – Stephen Kenney, Russellville, Ky.
“Religion, for some, is a factor for some folks in their voting behavior. Al Gore’s mother was a member of the church. His sister went to Lipscomb with my mother-in-law. Yet Senator Gore chose a Jew as his running mate, rightly or wrongly that was likely a factor for some. Kennedy’s Catholicism was a factor for my grandmother, especially since this was before Vatican II reforms. Romney’s Mormonism may also be a factor to consider. I thought it interesting that the colorful Democratic strategist from L.A., James Carville, said of the Republican candidates, ‘Look, the Mormon is the only one with one wife!’ Unfortunately there has often been a disconnect between the family values talk and the walk among Republican candidates. … We have to keep focused on the gospel. If we put more energy into politics than we do into spreading the gospel, something is wrong.” – Barry Poyner, Kirksville, Mo.
” When considering what candidate I will support for president, I am primarily concerned with the candidate’s ability to lead effectively and his/her integrity. I strongly prefer that America have government leaders that are Christians — individuals whose faith will guide their actions and decisions. Since there is only one Lord, one faith and one body (church), I am not interested in what letters hang on the bricks where Fred Thompson worships God. I am much more interested to know if he is a Christian, if the fruit of God’s Spirit is evident in Fred’s life and if his faith in Christ directs his steps.” – Steve Holladay, Brentwood, Tenn.
I, for one, cannot stomach ‘picture opportunities’ of political leaders coming out of church buildings on Sunday morning, and then be seen arguing the case for ‘same-sex marriage’ at a gay-rights rally later in the day. I want their commitment to God, His Word and His Church to be what permeates every facet of his life. So yes, I think it is fair for Christians to know if one faithfully attends what he claims to believe.” – William C. Johnson Sr., New York City
“If Senator Fred Thompson is a brother, even a lapsed one, we have at least some obligation to pray for him and to restore him if possible. When Senator Thompson was not a candidate for president, many Christians looked at the qualifications of those who were running to see if their morals, their principles, their behavior, and their experience singled them out for support. Now that Senator Thompson has entered the race, we must look at him too. I expect Senator Thompson will hold some principles and values he learned growing up attending the church of Christ. We will be able to tell more about him as he debates the issues and delivers his speeches. Senator Thompson, because of his principles, is on my short list of candidates.” – Phil Sanders, Brentwood, Tenn.
“I very much want to believe that Fred Thompson is a faithful member of the churches of Christ — but then, I want EVERYONE to be or become members of the Lord’s church. Nevertheless, I will vote for a presidential candidate on the basis of their issue positions as well as moral integrity, and unless some upsetting details come to light, I am enthusiastically throwing my support behind Sen. Thompson. He is head and shoulders above the rest of the field.” – Lisa Brewer, Wilkesboro, N.C.
“Obviously, presidential elections are big news. My concern is that by focusing reporting on one narrow thing — Thompson’s CoC roots, we lose the larger story of issues that are facing the citizens of America. How relevant is Fred’s childhood roots to the larger story of presidential politics? I could answer that with a yes–but it is a yes to all candidates, not just Thompson. My fear, from the big picture point of view, is that we are probing something that may be interesting trivia, but I am not sure it is truly newsworthy.” – Carson Reed, Tucker, Ga.
“Politicians typically “use” their faith in an attempt to gain favor with voters. Therefore, I am skeptical of all candidate’s claims to religion and faith. I’m more concerned with whether they will uphold and defend the constitution. I do not want candidates to use political office to legislate morality or be a cheerleader for my faith tradition or anyone else’s, for that matter.” – Keith Brumley, Milwaukee
Oct. 1, 2007

Filed under: National

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