In the highly charged atmosphere of today’s politics we are led to believe that “values” matter more to Republicans than to Democrats. This gambit becomes more incomprehensible with every piece of legislation pummeled through Congress and in the debates both within and outside the legislature. Issues of religion and belief played a major role in the last presidential election, but there has been little to celebrate in terms of faith when it comes to this administration’s agenda.
Questions abound regarding the kinds of people the president has chosen to fill cabinet positions, judgeships and various other important departments. In addition many Americans have begun to have serious misgivings about government interference in the daily conduct of their lives. The Terri Schaivo case brought many issues into the open and created a lot of uneasiness in the country. Republicans, who always preached fiscal responsibility and moral rectitude, have become the party of huge deficits and questionable ethical standards. And despite the fact that many of us have been aware for some time that money is at the root of all government, the brazenness lately of fundraising methods has attracted more than the usual attention, which is probably a good thing in the long run.
Faith-based politicians are big on talk but short on action. The sanctity of life can be a meaningless concept when a fetus seems more beloved than children after they are born. Or to make a federal case, literally, of a woman in a fifteen-year vegetative state but withhold funding for stem-cell research that might actually help the medically impaired. To put such emphasis on abstracts without supporting pre-natal care for the poor, affordable health care for families and adequate funding for scientific projects can hardly be considered the work of religious, caring individuals. Yet many politicians on the right continue to act as if they own the moral high ground no matter how incongruous their behavior.
Press Secretary McClellan said President Bush regards Tom DeLay as more of a business associate than a social friend. Actually, it is less appealing to think of the president doing business with an unethical partner than just sharing a meal with him now and then. Selling out the country to the highest bidders and neglecting the poor and the sick beggars religious principles, and no amount of pontificating can change that reality.
At the outermost fringes, the recently sentenced Eric Rudolph spoke proudly of bombs he planted at an abortion clinic, a gay club and a park during the Olympics in Atlanta – – his point? “defense of the unborn.” Rudolph is of course an extreme extremist, but too often our political leaders have not been a calming influence;people like DeLay and the president could help by moderating their rhetoric and encouraging the faithful to behave in more principled ways.
Unfortunately, these days religion is used as a political tool and mean-spirited rhetoric spews vitriol instead of comfort. One can only echo a question often asked – – “What would Jesus say?” A friend suggested he might say – -“For this I started a religion?”

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