The religion of political candidates often creates controversy. I recall that people took issue with Kennedy being a Catholic. They did the same with Romney being a Mormon. People are still concerned about Obama’s Muslim heritage influencing his foreign policy. Today, the religious practices of Cruz, Rubio, Trump and Sanders have all come under scruntiny.
Unfortunately, I think people all too quickly associate “religious” with “fanatic.” This can lead to some rash judgments. I understand that many of us are not comfortable with others who seem to be “religious fanatics.” However, I think that is in large part due to a confusion about religion in general, and worship in particular.
What is worship?
What you worship is what you make your life all about. Obama worships himself, so he has tried to radically transform America in his own image. Hillary worships ambition, so she put has put up with all kinds of personal, family, and professional disgrace to get to where she wants to be. Trump worships power, so he will make a deal with anybody to get it. That’s what makes him so dangerous.
Cruz worships his Lord according to Christianity, so he tries to make himself a humble servant. He can place his own interests subordinate to a higher authority: the Bible, the Constitution, to conservative values. This is much closer to what I think “true religion” is all about: it is supposed to help you become a better person.
As a religious Jew, I can relate to this approach. I worship the Master of the universe, who rules with the proper measures of justice and mercy. I must strive to employ the proper balance of those qualities in my own life.
We are all “religious”
I really do not believe that the world is made up of people who are religious, and others who are not. If I was to define a human being, it would not be Homo Sapiens or Homo Economus. It would be Homo Religious. I see worship as being the core human activity. The problem is that we have a very watered-down definition of what worship is. People think it is simply babbling incoherent words, in a service that is a meaningless, to a God they do not know, for reasons they do not comprehend. Maybe at some point this all made sense, but nowadays, I think all the religions are off the mark.
Once you realize that worship is the vehicle through which you actualize yourself – through which you, in essence, make your dreams come true – you see that we all do it. It’s really just a question of whether or not the world will be a better place due to our efforts.
Who to vote for?
From that point of view, it is easier to assess whether or not a candidate’s religion would have a good or a bad influence on his governance. You can basically ask: will future generations thank him or curse him for the world he handed down to them?