Sunday, December 09, 2012

 

Sunday Reflection: faith and politics

On this past Wednesday, I had a piece up on CNN titled The Religious Roots of Our Political Gridlock. There, I argued that "The divide between Democrats and Republicans that has frozen the mechanisms of American politics has many causes, but one of them is tangled up in the faith differences of our legislators. Faith, for many lawmakers on both sides, is the source of their outlook and principles, and faith has in part created the conditions for the current impasse about the fiscal cliff."

Among the many responses I got (both on the CNN site and directly), a large number of people people weren't defending or attacking either Republicans or Democrats-- they were claiming that politicians don't act from their faith. Instead, they supposedly act out of greed or a desire for power or political necessity.

I'm sure that is true for some, but I am not so ready to accept that broad claim. My own experience is that many who have opposed me on various issues are motivated by a very real and true faith, albeit one that is different than mine. In fact, for many of them, their faith has led them to unpopular, not popular, views. I don't believe that they act out of greed or a desire for power or political necessity.

Perhaps one of the greatest Christian acts I have ever seen was performed by a sitting Congressman. As I wrote back in 2006:

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, my church (at the initiative of Mary Darden) took in about 50 refugees from the storm. I signed up to work at the shelter one night from midnight to three a.m. As I approached the church, I saw a car driving out of the church lot with "U.S. Congress" license plates. I could see the driver, and I was quite sure it was not Congressman Edwards or his wife. Given the apparent determination of the driver to get out in a hurry, I ran into the church and asked if Congressman Edwards (who is not a member of my church) was there. Another volunteer said no, and then I opined that it seemed that someone just drove off in his car. They just kind of laughed at me. It turns out that Congressman Edwards came to the church and offered not only his car for the use of a refugee, but his own home. So while he was off in DC, a family he had not known was living in his house and driving his car. What trust! What generosity!

The quiet of advent calls on us to reflect hopefully, and there is much hope to be had.

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