Let me say it point blank: I believe in the separation of Church and State at all levels of our government. But that does not mean there is no need or place in politics for personal spirituality – not the spirituality of religion or the saints, but that of every human who believes in life.
The separation of Church and State has served our nation well through our young years and should continue to do so. Freedom of religion is one of the foundation stones of our country. Politics is serious business, affecting the lives of every American citizen. People should pay attention to the spiritual selves of those they choose to govern, especially in an election year. In the coming months the business of politics will bombard every voter. And it is every voter’s responsibility to sort through all the political noise and smoke in order to decide who can best lead our country through the minefields of this obscenely terrorized and economically tangled world.
The quality of that leadership requires far more than a law degree, expertise in political science, an MBA or a “narrative” and image that superficially assure voters that the presidency is in good hands. It has become expedient to see the president as a churchgoer and to question how his church and religious beliefs influence his thinking. All well and good. What is more important, however, is his substance, the spiritual core that defines him. What is his ethic, his conscience, his devotion to and faith in this country and its Constitution? What is his character, the essence of his person?
I am not talking about glamour or charisma or the packaging of a product created by savvy experts who know how to play with the mass mind. Smoke and mirrors, sound bites, spin and photo ops are rarely about transparency, which is a challenge to find in political spheres. In this day and age, the aim of too many candidates (and one is too many) is merely to please, win votes, get elected (or re-elected) any way they can, then start their next campaign. Forgive the cynicism. But the question emerges: How can people figure out the candidates’ characters?
Politics is about power – power that can seduce an ego to be larger than it needs to be. In this land of governance “of the people, by the people and for the people,” that power is meant to be shared. Religion can do little about that,but an individual’s spirit can empower others to be responsible citizens, to become better than they are, to find a voice that can be heard and echo through the corridors and chambers of government. An ideal, of course, but one that needs no apology.
The spirit of our Founding Fathers should be the spirit of every American, especially and emphatically our politicians.