Skip to comments.Public figures should embrace their faith
Posted on 01/29/2005 9:27:43 PM PST by blitzgig
The subject of religious faith within the public sphere has received considerable attention of late, with both presidential candidates making conspicuous efforts to display the prominence of religion in their lives. President Bush and Senator John Kerry have communicated that their faiths have informed their judgment as servants of the people when it comes to carrying out their duties and making decisions. This message draws attention to the topic of religions role and relevance in public life.
The angle of this topic that provokes debate most is the matter of the promulgation of ones religious faith in professional public work. It is declared in the Constitution that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Widely expressed is the notion that a theoretical wall of separation between religion and government is the necessary model for ensuring the Constitutions requirements. The state shall not impose upon the tenets of the church, the church shall not impose upon the activities of the state. Exactly how extensive or binding the wall between church and state is, however, becomes an open question.
There is a line of thought which claims that expressions of faith or consultations with religion within government and public service are at best dangerously close to violating public secular norms or at worst in breach of them. This common misconception overlooks the fact that, from the founding of our country, the propositions on which the nation was based derive greatly from religious faith.
When one remembers how the founding fathers created this country to preserve certain inalienable rights of man, the question becomes, "Where did those inalienable rights come from?" Given the founders expositions, it is clear that their philosophy of inalienable rights was influenced by religion. The philosophy originates from the belief in natural law, and it holds that nature grants all human beings certain liberties that no entity morally can take away. From a perspective of faith, where does this natural law come from? The answer for the religious, which included most of the founders, is from the supreme being, the creator, God.
The founders manifest religiosity is exemplified in lines taken from the Declaration of Independence, the document designed to state the elemental maxims of the nation. The Declaration posits that people are owed liberties that "the Laws of Nature and of Natures God entitle them." The people are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights," and the nation possesses "a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence."
It is evident that the fundamental principles of our country rest in large part on the faith in what is right and just in the eyes of nature, or as many would put it, in the eyes of God. This is because views about what makes a good government which does good things for the governed often are rooted in the deepest religious beliefs of right and wrong.
St. Augustine demonstrated the relevance of religion in political life when he proposed that the City of God be the paradigm for civil societies in its love and compassion for all. "True justice has no existence save in that republic whose founder and ruler is Christ and indeed we cannot deny that it is the peoples weal," Augustine stated. St. Thomas Aquinas similarly philosophized that "all laws, in so far as they partake of right reason, are derived from the eternal law."
Thus, men and women in public life should not be wary about permitting their religious faith to guide them. It is harmonious with a political tradition reaching back to our countrys founding and beyond.
Jonathan Kelly is a senior political science major.
I agree. The government should be committed to supporting God's religion, and then the country remains a strong bulwark for religion. The people are among the most protective of God's religion, and the keenest to fulfill His laws.
The comparrison by this author of George Bush, and John Kerry as examples of two mere politicians who have embraced their faith falls short and is in error when one looks at
the examples given. Kerry was correctly ,I believe, publically chastised by leaders in his professed faith because his public acts and speech could not be reconciled with the position of his church.
On the other hand George Bush has been attacked for the
opposite reason by many--his faith is reflected in his public speaking ,and acts.
But the general idea expressed I do agree with -we ought all embrace our faith or it has no purpose and we no direction.