By Jeff Borders
There are two topics that they say never to bring up at work, religion and politics. If you ask my coworkers, it is not my strong suit to stay away from either for very long.
With that being said, let’s dive into both of these head first like Scrooge McDuck into his money bin and see what we can come up with together.
It seems that every time you turn around it’s another political season, and we are being lobbied by one side or the other for our votes. This constant barrage of messaging and ads can make you want to claw your eyes out at times, but more often it can lead to confusion about who or what to vote for. For most people we try to take an educated look to see if a particular candidate or topic matches our own principles and morals. Even then, sometimes it’s hard to see discern the truth.
It’s here that religion and government intersect. Faith and prayer are vitally important in helping us choose wisely, because most often our principles, values and morals are gained through our faith traditions.
There are many naysayers that claim politics and religion are two separate and distinct things and never the two shall meet. Unfortunately, that goes against everything this nation was founded upon. Our very laws are based on Judeo-Christian principles. In fact, the words of the founding fathers were very clear on the role of religion and faith in the public square.
So hope in my delorean and let’s travel back to hear some voices from the past. John Adams declared, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Many would say that you don’t need religion to be moral. I personally know several atheists who are upright and outstanding citizens. But by and large, religion does shape our morality and ethics, because it forces us to look beyond ourselves and calls upon us to develop divine attributes. In our increasingly secular society, we often find morals and ethics cast aside as old-fashioned ideals so that we can adopt a “more enlightened”, post-modern attitude.
Gouverneur Morris, who wrote the preamble to the Constitution said, “For avoiding the extremes of despotism and anarchy…the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and morals are the only possible support of free governments.”
The founding fathers didn’t call for us to put away our faith and religion when it came to our civic duty, but to use it as our bedrock for making correct choices. We were blessed to be born in a land that allows us to participate in our own governance and practice our life and faith the way we deem appropriate. It is important that we use the vested power in a responsible fashion and according to the dictates of our own conscious.
Now I know that can be difficult sometimes.
Sometimes it would just be easier to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that we don’t know what’s going on. Sometimes we joke that it would just be easier if an asteroid took us out right now and then we wouldn’t have to worry about voting. But that is a defeatist approach. And here is the cool thing about a constitutional republic. You don’t have to vote on only two people. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. There is always another option, or a write in. And if you don’t like either of those options, guess what? You could and should run for office. No other place on Earth is like this. We all have a voice.
According to Wilford W. Anderson, a general Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, “Religion and government are like a couple who sometimes have a hard time living together, but who find they simply cannot live apart. They are most successful and effective when they encourage one another…It is perhaps less obvious to some that religion and morality play an essential role in maintaining and promoting good and effective government. The only real solutions to many of the serious problems facing our world today are spiritual, not political or economic.”
Again we see the important role that faith has in maintaining good government. We are all called as citizens to stand up and participate, to make sure we maintain our freedoms. This is a duty and a blessing that many in the world would clamor and claw to have, and yet some of us cast it off as a burden.
Ezra Taft Benson, former President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once said, “We must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, and our advice. We must be informed and let others know how we feel. We must take part in local precinct meetings and select delegates who will truly represent our feelings.”
In the end, I’m not here to tell you who to vote for, only you can decide that. But I would encourage you not to remove faith from the public sphere. Let us follow the counsel of our founding fathers and remember that our faith should be an integral part of the political process. And if in the end you can’t decide who to vote for, seek out him who created the world in prayer. I’m positive he’ll have an answer.