Question: President Joe Biden is only the second Catholic president. Should world leaders mix their political stance with religion?
Jim Daly - Christian
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, an organization dedicated to helping families thrive. He and his wife are raising two boys.
I’d like to suggest that the way in which the question has been worded only tends to muddle the issue. This is not a matter of “mixing politics with religion.” Instead, it’s a question of figuring out what it means to be who we are and practice what we believe whatever we’re doing and wherever we find ourselves. That’s the challenge that confronts each and every one of us every single day — you and me as well as President Biden. As in every other field or endeavor, so in politics and government, the sincere believer should seek to exercise godly discernment and apply the principles of his faith to the task at hand. I hope and pray that our new president will do no less.
Benn Mac Stiofan - Druid
Benn Mac Stiofan is a practicing Druid who speaks Irish and has deep respect for the spiritual, ethical, and mystical teachings rife in Celtic myth and legend.
How could you help it? Your cosmological, cultural and spiritual understanding will inform every decision you make. Whatever your sacred instructions are, they’re meant to inform your life and guide you on the right road. Every American president, however, needs to understand that they lead and caretake a plurality of people with diverse religious views. Understanding this, a leader can make decisions that may run counter to their personal views but benefit the country.
Nori Rost - Unitarian Universalist
Rev. Dr. Nori Rost is the minister at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church downtown and has been a community activist in Colorado Springs for 20 years.
It’s interesting that this question only comes up when someone from a non-dominant religion takes or runs for office. It came up for JFK as the other Catholic and for Mitt Romney, as a Mormon. If someone practices a religion, it should be embedded in how they live out their values, but it should never be the determining factor for how they enact laws and policies. I applaud the right of everyone to practice a faith tradition that guides and centers them so long as their beliefs aren’t used to enact laws that impact my own personhood. We’ve seen this happen numerous times under the banner of evangelical Christian leaders (anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ equal rights, yet, surprisingly pro-death penalty.) Your personal belief system should be just that — personal.
David Gardiner - Buddhist
David Gardiner is an associate professor in the Colorado College Religion department, specializing in Buddhism and religions of China and Japan, and is co-founder and director of BodhiMind Center.
My understanding of the separation of church and state is that the government is permitted neither to promote a particular religion nor to prohibit any. Like our right to freedom of speech (with exceptions of violence), this separation protects freedom of belief. This should be an inviolable right. For an individual, religious worldviews are often so deeply embedded in their being that core values, and images of how “the world works,” are inextricable from their basic life orientation. Yet, non-religious people also have core life values. We cannot expect anyone to set these aside when making important decisions. Identifying as religious should not be a reason for distrust or exemption from public office. We have laws that dictate limits for behavior; these should be our guides.
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