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    My name is Steve Bogner, a 40-something husband and father of two boys in Cincinnati, OH. Extremism - whether conservative or liberal or whatever - is something I try to avoid. The world isn't perfect, the truth is usually in the middle, and things are rarely as simple as they seem.


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September 30, 2006

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Do media, big money, unions, and political action groups get an IRS pardon, Steve? I, too, am glad to see people vote their moral convictions, but the question becomes: are they grounded enough in their moral convictions to waive their tax status? Does a man yet tithe when it no longer serves as a tax deduction?...

That's a great point Jim. I do think churches shouldn't even come close to directly endorsing a candidate or a party; I didn't make that clear earlier. And how many are grounded enough? That would be interesting to know.

Many of my friends who are not religious are horrified by the combination of politics and religion. I guess there's a tension between the almost gnostic idea of religion as individual and inward turned, and the other extreme which wants a theocracy.

Very touchy issue Steve and I must complement you for your stance.

As you said in so many words, we can’t always be right when it comes to voting. I believe that all we can do is vote for who we honestly believe will do the best job and hope that God will approve of our choice.

As a Christians nowadays,it’s almost impossible to make a decision which will please everyone but the important think is to vote according to our own conscience and that’s after having hoped and prayed that God directed us in the right direction for the good of humanity. I also don’t see anything wrong with listening to what religious leaders have to say as long as when it comes right down to the decision making it will be our honest X which counts. The important thing is to get out and vote when it’s time to do so cause I’m sure that there so many who say to themself, what good or difference will my single vote make.

Well that’s my Canadian two cents worth Steve.

There's a difference, though, between unions and PACs saying "We endorse X candidate," and a church which, ideally, says "these are our teachings on certain issues," without instructing followers to vote for a certain candidate or political party.

Of course a religious person should vote their values. All people should vote their values, so I agree with you Steve that it's misleading to ask if religion should influence an individual's politics.

Crystal - I almost added a paragraph in the original post about the tension between between the non-religious and the theocratic view of things. Life is full of these sorts of tensions, and people will have differing views on how to balance them.

Victor - Thanks for that 2 cents Canadian :) I've always thought it was funny that in Canada there seems to be less religious influence on the vote, but the government funds Catholic/religious schools (in other countries too, I think). That practice in the US doesn't exist and likely never will - gotta separate that church & state. It's funny to me, until it comes time to pay my porperty taxes (which fund the schools) and my Catholic school tuition bill!

Jason! It's good to hear from you. Trading one uniform for another... you look good in the Roman collar. (For those unaware - Jason recently left a career in aviation to join the Jesuits in Oregon)

Steve, did you and your readers ever hear of the scandal created by Bishop Henry of Calgary? He criticized then-Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin in a pastoral letter to his (Henry's) diocese.

Henry took the catholic PM to task for his stance on same-sex marriage and abortion DURING an election campaign, and posted the letter on his (Henry's) website.

Canada Customs & Revenue came after him.

Nothing happened -- mostly because our political campaigns are so short!

But I can't help wondering about the question itself. Does a cleric have the obligation to tell his flock that when the PM campaigns AS A CATHOLIC, that his political decisions are contrary to chuch teaching? And if he does so, is that a political act?

I'm not too sure of the answer to that question. I don't much like Bishop Henry, but I think maybe he was doing his job in this case.

The story can be accessed here.

Religion does impact politics whether we want it to or not. Politicians pandering to religion is nauseating but I suppose it's been happening for centuries.

Talmida - I do remember hearing something about that. When Catholic politicans openly take such stances, that puts the bishop in a tough spot. Hopefully, the bishop approaches the politican in private first, but in the end how can he not speak out? I think tt's a pastoral action that has political consequences.

Don - Yes, nauseating.

Should Religion influence Politics?

Do you think that religion influenced the architects of the constitution of the United States?

I believe the present climate of American politics is a far cry from what our forefathers had originally intended.

Considering that the greatest medium of influence during the earliest period of American politics was the Bible it's logical to suggest that the citizens of that period had a clearer understanding of what the foundation of laws were and the perception of the lawmakers.

It's a fairly easy to suggest that the early American society believed it existed under God and it's laws reflected that understanding.

Not so anymore.

The greatest mediums of influence in today's culture are television and the internet. Each of which shape the mindset of society on a daily basis, in a constant and chaotic blend of people influencing people.

And, what's evolving is a society that is striving towards freedom from God and laws derived from the understanding that we exist under God.

Our present culture is seriously conflicted.

Congress just killed a bill that stood opposed to minors crossing state lines to have an abortion without parental consent.

This is an example of our society striving towards a culture that desires an individual freedom from authority.

And, there's a growing percentage of the population that desires to not have to acknowledge the Greatest Authority. To acknowledge God would have to acknowledge his laws and the laws of our society that were derived from them. They would prefer to live in a society not influenced by religion and a belief in God.

Should Religion influence Politics?

Would we prefer to live in a society where politics weren't influenced by Religion?

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