Many conversations on our campus, and throughout the country, are concerned with how a political candidate’s religion will affect his governing.
With Mitt Romney’s inevitable nomination by the GOP as its presidential candidate close at hand, this discussion seems more poignant in recent elections. Romney is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, usually called the Mormon Church.
The 44 presidents of the United States have all appeared to adhere to some form of protestant Christianity with the exception of President Kennedy who was a Roman Catholic. While JFK was campaigning, some Americans worried about electing a president who would possibly be influenced by the pope. Similar concerns have been expressed about Romney’s religion and it’s similar hierarchical governance.
But for most people, it seems, the concern is over Mormonism’s fundamental differences with Christianity in general. Despite what the friendly folks on bikes may tell you, there are many differences. And they’re huge.
Which brings us the the question of this editorial: how should we consider a candidate’s religion during an election?
Many people think of this as a deciding whether you agree with a candidate’s religion or not. But the validity of the candidate’s beliefs is not important since all religions can seem ridiculous to nonbelievers. Voters should consider a candidates adherence to his belief system, though.
In other words, don’t just think about whether a candidate’s religion is true, think about whether that candidate is faithful or unfaithful to their their religious beliefs.
This is why marriage scandals tend to doom candidates. We are concerned when someone can’t keep a commitment. After all, being a president means making a huge commitment to an entire country. Faithfulness matters, integrity matters, and a candidates married life can be a good indicator of such.
And a candidate’s religious life can tell us the same things. Rather than worry about whether you agree with what a candidate’s claim to believe, see if he agrees with himself. Has he switched beliefs so he can appeal to larger demographics? Does he give support his chosen church with their finances and time, or is he merely attending for a nice photo-op?
Don’t just consider which religion a presidential hopeful is a part of, try and see if his claimed religion is a part of his life. This can say much more about a candidate’s integrity and character than the perceived validity of the religion itself.