Thursday, November 04, 2004

Matters of Faith

Robert Reich:

My recommendation to Democrats is not to become more religious. Religion is a personal matter. But perhaps Democrats need somewhat fewer plans and policies, and a bit more moral conviction. They also need to talk more about faith -- faith in what this great nation can accomplish if we work together.

At last nights DfA meetup I related my experience at a viewing party for the third debate. It was held at a local brew-pub-theater and about 200 people were in attendance. You may recall that during that debate Bob Schieffer asked Bush the following question:

You were asked before the invasion, or after the invasion, of Iraq if you'd checked with your dad. And I believe, I don't remember the quote exactly, but I believe you said you had checked with a higher authority.

I would like to ask you, what part does your faith play on your policy decisions?

When this question was asked several people in the audience around me openly laughed.

This is a problem folks. There are plenty of Americans who are sympathetic to Democratic candidates but who are repeatedly turned off by the way some Democrats openly mock their faith, particularly of the religious variety. It is a deeply personal matter to them and laughing at them for their beliefs does not help our cause.

I understand that many Democrats have fundamental problems with religion. I empathize with those problems. Many of us are fearful of the Christo-Fascist tendencies of many of Bush's most ardent supporters. There is a great temptation to respond to them with mockery. But that is no reason to, by our mockery, exclude all people of faith as if they were all of the same stripe.

Robert Reich makes a good point in his article that faith and religion are not necessarily equivalent. Religion is a spiritual practice that people participate in to fulfill themselves more completely in their spiritual beliefs. Faith is the fire that drives people to devote their time to an endeavor when logic fails to give them just cause to continue on. Faith is an element of religion. But religion is not the only practice that requires faith.

I have faith that America can pull itself back from the brink that George W. Bush is threatening to send us over. I have faith that we can and should do our best to better the lives of our fellow man. I have faith that God believes in us.

We need to learn to express ourselves in terms of faith, religious or otherwise, and be more accepting of those who express their faith in ways different than our own. I have faith that most Americans want to achieve the same thing. I have faith that we can do it.

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