Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A past Governor of the State of New York, Mario M. Cuomo, speaking about politicians and their
faith, once said:
“It’s always been safer not to talk about religious beliefs, because religious beliefs are so personal that they tend to antagonize.”
This seems to be true even in today’s political climate in Canada. The noble vocation of entering into the political arena is not for the meek and mild. Politics is tough and one needs to have a tough skin to enter into it. For a person to be an elected representative in parliament, he/she requires the necessary votes from the constituency population they wish to represent. Acquiring the necessary ‘votes’ is often the main focus of politicians – the kissing of babies and attending BBQ’s are all part of the play book. But less and less is the importance of a politician introducing themselves in who they are and what forms their moral and ethical groundings that will influence their voice in parliament. Sadly, more and more politicians will say anything to get our vote and cover up their inner beliefs. Many politicians are willing to speak about their hard core beliefs only when it is advantageous to do so. But when a politician is pushed to speak about what he/she believes as morally right or wrong and what their personal beliefs are on such hot topics like Abortion, Euthanasia, Same Sex Marriage, etc., then the statement above by Mario M. Cuomo, must come to mind for most of them. And this is why we often hear politicians hide behind the non-statement of ‘my personal beliefs are private and they will not affect the way I will govern if I am elected.’ This statement is said in many different ways, but they all mean the same. It is clear that the non-statement is a way to avoid the subject, because “It’s always been safer not to talk about religious beliefs…” Politicians should not be allowed to hide behind ‘non-statements’, because their personal beliefs can and often do have an impact on the society we live in. Please allow me to explain how this is so.
We all have our personal thoughts on a multitude of issues that surround us as members of a society. These thoughts are formed by life experience, education, reason and faith. People have different thoughts on such issues as the minimum hourly wage, daycare subsidies, gas tax, marijuana use, Sunday shopping, environmental pursuits, abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage, etc. These thoughts will form the way we see society and how it should be run - what rules and regulations should be implemented, what policies should be pursued, etc. We should not think that politicians are different from us. They too have their thoughts on these issues as we do. But it is the politician we elect who will have a say at the table in Ottawa with all the other
Since the person we elect will represent us we need to know who they are. We should not expect that a politician, if elected, will mirror our thoughts and beliefs. If a politician is pro-choice, pro-euthanasia, pro same sex marriage, and is elected, then those in his/her riding should not be surprised that he/she will vote for these things - even if the majority of his/her riding is pro-life, pro-palliative care and pro marriage between a man and a woman. We should not expect a politician to go against what he/she believes to be true and right. This is why we should inquire what our candidates believe in, what they hold as true for themselves, especially on the most hot-topic issues of our day. We should not accept our candidates to hide behind the catch phrases that become part of the ‘non-statements’ we hear. We should clearly know what they will promote and protect with their votes in Ottawa.
So I encourage you to get to know who is seeking your vote in this October’s election. Find out what your candidates’ views are on the many topics of importance to our society, because it is only in doing so that we can vote responsibly and with confidence. I will pause at this point and allow us to consider what has been written above. I will continue this line of thought in next week’s Pastor’s corner.
p.s. I renew my clarification statement that what I have written and will write is not meant to lead you to vote for one candidate or one party over another - I just offer these thoughts to help you ‘discern’ how you will use your vote this October.