The following response was submitted in response to a question posted by the In Theory section of the La Cañada Valley Sun, Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader, respectively: Should UK political candidates play the God card in an effort to gain more votes even if it means going against the grain of UK politics?
First, God is not a “card” to be “played”. Anyone flippantly asserting otherwise is 1. missing the whole point, and 2. doing their own spiritual growth a mis-service. Whatever God is, or isn’t, should be given serious consideration… as a personal matter and not as a self-serving publicity stunt.
Experiences and beliefs about God are among many other highly personal aspects of human existence (like sexuality) that I believe should, ideally, be kept out of politics. Using (actively emphasizing, denying or fabricating) such information as a way to win or destroy the trust of voters indicates to me a disturbing lack of personal integrity.
With that said, voters do want to get a sense of the values that will be influencing the decisions of those empowered as their leaders.
I want to know, for example, whether a candidate’s stance on environmental change is grounded in commitment to our sacred responsibility as stewards of the earth. Or, whether it is grounded in happy anticipation of the prophesied apocalyptic destruction that will lead “god’s favored few” to eternal paradise and the rest to oblivion.
His/her support of green initiatives seem very likely to depend upon that religious stance.
But there are clearly problems with this.
We may be misinformed about the value-systems of others. We may hold unfair prejudices against those whose religious beliefs or practices are different from our own.
We may harbor assumptions about their ability to govern in such a way that honors those concepts we most value (such as ethics grounded in God or, conversely, ethics claimed and lived without affirmation of God).
We may become justly or unduly concerned about their commitment to our own religious freedom.
We may get so distracted by our inner-dialogue about who they are and how we think that will play out when they are in possession of political power, that we forget to ask the right questions; we forget to pay attention and stay involved in political process.
Should the UK start emphasizing religious beliefs in the political arena? Clearly there are many elements to be considered. So how about starting with: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”