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Unfit for Public Office

  /   Sunday June 25, 2017  

By now, most of the buzz has already calmed down about Bernie Sanders’ criticism of the religious beliefs of Russell Vought that could very easily be interpreted to mean that Christians need not apply for public office. Well, maybe it’s okay to be a Christian as long as you don’t really believe the Christianity is true. Don’t even think about letting your faith influence you in a way that might affect others!

The existence of this mentality really shouldn’t be surprising. Secular society has long looked at some religious beliefs as though they were a personality quirk that needed to be worked around. There was a veneer of “respecting the beliefs of others” as though they were just arbitrary traits of a person that we can just humor. People were supposedly just taught these things, and we can’t expect them to be able to substantiated. This stops the moment someone show that a person takes what they believe seriously.

Sanders and those like him seem to have forgotten one thing – why would anyone believe anything? There’s really only one reason to believe anything, religious or otherwise – because it is true! No matter how beautiful something sounds or how much I like it, there is no point in my believing it if it isn’t true. If something is true, then it’s only logical that anything that contradicts it must be false. If I think my child ate the last cookie, but my wife thinks he didn’t, we can’t both be right. He either did or he didn’t. I know that a lot of people these days say that we really can’t be sure that any one religion is right. However, the people who say that sound darn sure that they are right in saying that we cannot be sure that any one religion is right, and that belief also has consequences for them and others as well.

So, does believing something is right and basing one’s life, including one’s public life on it, render one unfit for office? The left seems to think these days that it not only renders one unfit for public office, but it also renders one unfit for a lot of other things. If anyone wants to know how someone like Donald Trump reached the presidency, I think the actions of the left in this regard are a huge factor. There were enough people who didn’t want to see what would be a continuation of an administration willing to go after the Little Sisters of the Poor for not providing contraception in their insurance plan. There were enough people who were tired of bakers, florists, and other wedding professionals being sued for everything they have for not wanting to participate in a same-sex “wedding.” There were enough people who questioned imposing on everyone the ideology of people who think that they can be one biological sex but yet another gender. Oh, and there are people who are certain that they are right about these things, and they seek to impose them on others. They may not be religious beliefs, but if we look at history careful, we can see that militant atheists and secularists have harmed far more people than religious zealots.. The Communist revolutions of the 20th Century resulted in far, far more destruction of human life than did he Inquisition and the Crusades (the latter of which I will argue actually had a noble purpose).

The problem that makes one unfit for public office isn’t a belief that something is definitely right. Whether someone is fit for public office depends on 1) how people who are, or who are believed to be, in error should be treated 2) the objective morality or immorality of what one believes 3) the person’s willingness or unwillingness to substantiate what they believe. Too many people want to just cry “bigot” or “blaming the victim” instead of coming up with an adult argument. Also, despite popular opinion, religious beliefs can be substantiated. Take a look at the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

To see people’s fitness for public office, look at how they view those of a different belief. What do they want to do – evangelize them, leave them to their fate, or destroy them? If they wish to evangelize, how would they do so – by proclaiming the message or by force? Finally, how would they settle a matter of justice between a believer and an unbeliever? Do they believe in principles of right and wrong that would lead them to render a decision in favor of an unbeliever if justice demanded it? Do they hold people of their own faith accountable for doing what’s right, even to an unbeliever? Obviously, a judge that would always rule in favor of a Christian who stole from a Muslim, Hindu, Jew, or even an atheist isn’t fit to be a judge.

Whether we understand it or not, we want people in office who base their lives on unwavering moral principle and expect the same from others. Every law on the books is someone’s imposition of beliefs in what is right or wrong on others.  Otherwise, what else is going to be the basis for their decisions? They could make them based on whatever benefits them personally, whatever some group of influential or powerful people thinks, or whatever is blowing in the latest political wind. To quote one of my favorite country songs “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” While that may be just a song, I do fear that one of our greatest problems today is that we are indeed falling for anything because little worthwhile is being held to be true.

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