Some questions for candidates who use faith as a campaign issue

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By Robert Mann

Like it or not, it’s now widely accepted that running for public office means not only sharing one’s policy ideas but also professing a deep and abiding faith in God and, usually, Jesus Christ. The Republican presidential candidates each declare they are Christians. For some, that declaration is a regular feature of their stump speeches, pitched as a qualification for higher office.

Look at the polls, and it’s easy to understand why. The Pew Research Center found that 68 percent of evangelicals said political leaders should talk more about their faith. Too many voters are easy marks for slick politicians with a prayer and emotional story about their decision to follow Jesus. As for me, I’m more skeptical. If these candidates ask us to vote for them in part because they are people of faith, aren’t we at least entitled to know how that faith influences their policies?

Gov. Bobby Jindal, who often shares his conversion story with audiences, is among the most vocal in professing his Christian faith. At a prayer rally on the LSU campus last January, Jindal took it a step further. He called for a national spiritual revival. “We can’t just pass a law to fix what ails our country,” Jindal told the evangelical crowd. “We need a spiritual revival to fix what ails our country.” Jindal, presumably, hopes to lead that renewal.

But back to our original question: Assuming that Jindal and the rest are Christians, how much should that matter to us? And what does it mean, in a political context, to profess, “I am a follower of Christ”?

In other words, it’s fine that Jindal found his Christian faith as a teenager after reading a Bible by flashlight in his closet, but what does that tell us about how he lives his faith today? And what, exactly, does Jindal believe his faith obligates him to do as he leads the country’s spiritual revival? We know how Jindal’s Christian faith informs his opinions about same-sex marriage and abortion, but what about matters of justice and attitudes toward the poor, two themes Jesus emphasized above almost all others?

Because Jindal and fellow candidates aggressively tout their Christianity, voters also have every right to question their devotion to two central tenants of the Christian faith long accepted by scripture and tradition — our sacred obligation to the poor and oppressed.

If a candidate brags, “I’m a believer in smaller government and balanced budgets,” it’s reasonable to ask, “Well, then, let’s examine your budgets. Show us the evidence.”

In the same way, when Jindal or another candidate implies that he is qualified because of his faith, it’s fair to respond, as the Apostle James did in his epistle, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.”

The evidence thus far indicates that Jindal is a follower of Jesus, selectively. He seems to care much about piety (something Jesus detested) but less about those whom Jesus called “the least of these.” He talks about his conversion but rarely, if ever, about how God has prompted him to care for the poor, the disabled, the sick, the immigrant and the victim of injustice.

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8 Responses to Some questions for candidates who use faith as a campaign issue

  1. pittypatbr says:

    Amen!!

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  2. Jindal’s faith; a political strategy! He, apparently, had a plan a long, damn time ago. A plan that was very successful to date. It’s just strange that he would choose the Roman Catholic faith.

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  3. John Toliver says:

    By faith, I am a Christian. I am not supposed to judge. Regardless, I do judge Christians, particularly those politicians who claim to be Christians, by their actions and their works. Based on what Bobby Jindal promoted and has done as our governor, he may profess to be of the Christian faith, but his actions tell me something totally different. God placed the responsibility of taking care of the earth and all of its creatures in man-kind’s hands. Prayer will not do it all. He expects us to do our part in His and Jesus Christ’s name.

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  4. Stephen Winham says:

    In Matthew, Mark, and John Jesus is quoted as saying, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” Governor Jindal and other politicians of the conservative Christian faith apparently take this scripture to heart and use it as rationalization for largely ignoring the needs of the poor. Carrying it a step further, some might, via psychological identification, also view the “me” to be the person they see in the mirror rather than Jesus.

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  5. OK, so politicians like Jindal are loudly proclaiming to be good Christians. Well, what about all those Americans who are not Christian? Where do they fit into the view of these politicians.
    As for me, I know I would be totally out as I do not follow nor believe in any religion at all. I suppose with a president Jindal, even having been born in this country, served honorably in the Marines and done a tour in the idiotic, damn fool Vietnam war, there’d be no place for the likes of me. Nope, no heathens/non-believers allowed here.
    Also, Jesus told his followers to NOT be like the hypocrites who pray in public. The devout are supposed to pray privately, in their closet if you accept the KJV version of the Bible.

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  6. willhelm says:

    Some might say the sanctimony dripping from those whose primary objection to Jindal is political and not results oriented is more an indictment of their compassion for the poor than Jindal’s. Considering the destruction in the wake of Leftwing ideology in practically every facet, it is not a leap to assume the Left want the poor right smack dab where they are.

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