The Constitution of the United States of America is a great document. The thought and carefulness that our forefathers put into crafting the laws of which we live by is amazing, especially considering that items they wrote more than 200 years ago still apply and hold true today. But like anything else in life, the words on the paper, no matter how old they are, are up for interpretation. And as society changes and develops, the way the words are interpreted need to change as well. But one consistent has held true over the years and shows no signs of going away any time soon—religion will always impact the way people vote.
Religion is a hot topic. Always has been, always will be. Everyone believes their views on religion are the most correct, and that their particular faith or even denomination is the right one, otherwise why would you believe in it in the first place. Government and politics are a hot topic as well. And for many people, the two go hand in hand, with religious beliefs dictating political views. But is that right? Should your belief in God decide who your next president, senator or governor should be?
The laws of the land clearly spell out that state and religion shall be separate, but this is a hard thing for people to do and I understand that, but it is time everyone realizes that the two must be separate. Not just on Capitol Hill, but also in your hearts and homes.
No one should ever tell you what you believe is not correct or that you particular faith based views are wrong, but just for a minute, I want to tell you that they may be. Yes, you read that correctly. You may be incorrect.
May be are the key words here. If any of us knew what lies beyond it would be a different story, but we do not. Heaven may exist. Hell may exist. Christians may be right, Hindus may be right. Both may have it wrong. No one truly knows. Believe what you want to believe. Stand strong in your faith, thoughts and opinions, but admit it, you do not positively know for sure that your religion, your God, your personal savior is indeed the way, the life and truth, but rather you know that it is the way, the life and truth for you.
At this point it bares mentioning that I am a Christian (ELCA Lutheran denomination to be specific), and I whole heartedly believe that I am going to Heaven. But because I am part of a larger group of people called the human race, I also understand that my Hindu friends, my Buddhist friends, my gay friends, my black friends and quite honestly all of my friends of any race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other way society would like to group them together whole heartedly believe they are absolutely correct as well.
I am not asking you to hide your religion beliefs. I am not even asking you to stop being an evangelist to friends and in your community, but I am asking you to think about others, to be tolerant of others – to respect others. When I hear people say they cannot support a particular candidate for office because it conflicts with their religious beliefs, I always ask, “but are they the best candidate overall for the job?” In the long run, doesn’t their opinions and plans for foreign policies, taxes, education, budgets and our environment effect us all more than whether or not they are pro-life or pro-choice? Is their definition of what a makes a family more important to you, or would your rather have someone in office who could handle a crisis on our behalf? Would you choose your doctor because of his or her religious beliefs or do you want the most highly trained, well-respected individual possible?
I know religion will continue to be on the minds of voters for longer then I will be alive and that is alright, you should put God first in your life. But this year and for the years beyond, can we also agree to keep everyone’s else’s religions, Gods and beliefs on our minds as well as we do the research and hard work of deciding who to vote for this election season by committing to vote for the best candidate for office instead of the one who best aligns with our own religion? I sincerely hope that it is not too much to ask, but yet I fear that it is…and always will be.
Chris Thomas is a full-time teacher, part-time freelance writing, father of three, and most importantly, a very, very tired man.
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