Religion, politics and faith

Commentary by Judie Brown

America is badly in need of a reality check, and as we get closer to another cycle of elections, it seems proper to stop and examine why that wakeup call cannot come a moment too soon.

Sacred Heart University Polling Institute took a telephone survey recently and received responses from 958 Americans. There was no indication of either the political or religious affiliations of those surveyed; but if you look at the results of that poll, there is every reason to believe that Americans are a bit confused.

Of those polled, 60.7 percent believe a presidential candidate should "be a religious person." Nearly half of those polled also "suggested their own religious faith always or sometimes guides their views toward politics."

Who is a religious person? Would that designation apply to someone who publicly proclaims a belief in God, but who also repeatedly proclaims that an expectant mother has a "right to choose" to kill her preborn baby?

Maybe a religious person is someone who tells us that his relationship with a higher power guides his actions; but when asked if that would affect the manner in which he conducts himself in office, he politely says "No, not at all."

Or perhaps a religious person is someone who never publicly refers to God but simply appears to be a really nice fellow or a lovely lady.

It's hard to tell what that polling question meant, but I surmise, upon learning that nearly half of those polled could either vote according to their faith or not, that religion has become a secular sort of concept that has no foundation in biblical principle or Christian tradition; it is merely a nice word we can toss around to make us feel good about our choices, political and otherwise.

Dr. June-Ann Greeley, who is an assistant professor at Sacred Heart University, said she believes Americans think "we can understand something meaningful about a person, a politician, if we have a sense of his/her religious beliefs because, clearly, religious belief is still esteemed by a majority of Americans." I would beg to differ.

I honestly think most Americans haven't the foggiest idea about what it means to be a person of faith. This is not meant to be an insult; it just happens to be a sad reality of our times.

If faith in the one true God were indeed a definitive aspect of the character of those we elect to public office, we would rarely if ever see a Catholic who votes pro-abortion, a Christian who votes pro-homosexual marriage or any person of faith who votes in favor of killing human embryonic children so their stem cells can be taken. If it were clear that the moral teachings gleaned from serious study of Scripture were the foundation for the thought process of our elected officials, there would be no taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood nor would there be discussions about the legality of physician-assisted suicide.

This poll provides us with a bird's eye view of what it means to "have religion" on one hand but to lack a God in charge of our consciences, our lives or our fortunes on the other. I say this because further poll results revealed that once the undecided voters were removed from the total, 80.6 percent believed the Democrats will win the White House-a margin that will be hard to overcome, according to the Polling Institute director Jerry Lindsley: "Even Republicans, by a margin of 42.6 percent to 29.4 percent, believe Democrats will regain the White House."

This poll then is a reaffirmation of something we have been seeing over the past few years in America. The phenomenon in politics today can best be described as the melding of Republican Party platitudes with Democratic Party principles. As the Republican Party moves closer into alignment with the Democratic Party vision of respect for the dignity of the human person, it will not matter who resides in the White House or which party controls Congress. Their dedication to quasi-religion will be equal, regardless of the "R" or the "D" behind their names; and that spells enormous trouble for the least of our brothers and sisters.

This poll provides one other fact that one can only hope is in error, but I fear is quite true. Americans prefer to focus on a distant war, homeland security or any other news topic of choice that will deflect their attention from the war being waged daily in the wombs of the mothers of this nation. The brand of religion, quite frankly, that I think such voters espouse is secular humanism. It is the religion of self that seems to be most prominent these days.

I truly think that most have lost sight of what it means to be the servants of the One Who died on the Cross to set us free.

We are far too busy watching the mind-numbing tube or learning the "facts" from the Internet to be overly concerned about our immortal souls.

A few months from now, as Americans leave the voting booths we will see whether my take on this early poll is correct or incorrect. I hope with all sincerity that I am wrong. In the meantime, I am praying like mad for our country.

Release issued: 22 Jun 07