Some of you might think this post has to do with Pat Robertson endorsing Rudy Giuliani and the fallout that flows from that announcement...while interesting, I'll save that for another day and share with you what happened at our local county Republican meeting this week.
Our county chairman recently sent out an e-mail that asked others that might be interested, to offer to do the invocation at the monthly meeting. For some time these invocations have been given by a few people who are devout Christians, and the prayer is usually concluded with, "In Jesus's name...." The idea of opening this privilege up to others of perhaps varied backgrounds started a firestorm of controversy that I believe illustrates part of where the Republican party periodically ends up going wrong across this nation.
A motion was made by an executive board member requesting the board adopt a resolution to recognize "the God of the bible." The discussion was one of the most interesting I have ever heard. The majority, board members and public alike, put forth the position that this organization was a political party, first, foremost, and utmost, and looking back at our founding fathers we see, (as well as in the Constitution) that we are free to express our religion, and we reject the inposition of state sponsored religion. While this is a small community the slippery slope argument was made that we can not and should not exclude those that would consider themselves Republican but perhaps practice a different religion than most of the people in that room. Several stated that if they were having this discussion in their church, it would be a far different story, but this is a secular group and organization.
In the end, the motion failed, another that attempted the inverse of the first also failed, and life goes on. What I hope was learned is that our personal beliefs may drive our political leanings, but our religion should not dictate politics. I have realized in the last few years, and was actually one of these people myself once, that many people I know have personal religious beliefs but are uncomfortable being in a room of people where religion is openly discussed and people are sometimes put "in the spotlight" regarding their religious beliefs or lack thereof. If politics becomes too intertwined with religion, Republicans are going to continue to lose people who believe that Republicans and religion are joined at the hip, and believe that because they do not fit that mold they must be Democrats or Independents.
It is not unusual and should be expected that people who are devoutly religious will look for candidates that closely fit their own personal beliefs, both spiritual and governmental policywise; however, people need to recognize that once a candidate is in office the extent to which their religion can dictate governmental policy is very limited. This was the whole point of instituting three separate branches of government with checks and balances. I hope that the kind of discussion we had this week goes on more and more across this country so people that believe in conservative Republican principles will not be afraid to join the Republican party for fear that their "religious" life does not meet the expectations of the party.
Robertson and Giuliani? Let me think some more on that one and what I think it means...I'll let you know later.