Responses to "Of Faith and Political Courage"

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I sent out an all-points bulletin to fellow faith-n-politics bloggers, asking for their reflections on my column in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly, "Of Faith and Political Courage." As I spot responses, from them and from other readers, I'll link to them here.

Rick Westcott, a Republican running for Tulsa City Council District 2, wrote about another aspect of faith and political courage:

I also think that a personís faith gives them a sense of identity which helps ground them in times of trouble. Because I know who I am in Christ, who God made me, because I know He has a plan for me, it gives me a sense of identity that isnít shaken by those who might attack me. I donít need the external validation that some seek from others.

The other side of that same coin: I have known elected officials overawed, absolutely dazzled, because now important and wealthy people would return their phone calls and invite them to their homes. That shouldn't be true of someone who believes she's a child of the King of Kings. (For that matter, even someone who doesn't believe that, but has a proper regard for the people who elected her to office, should consider her position as elected representative as impressive as the wealth of any one constituent.)

Dan Paden, of the badly misnamed No Blog of Significance, asks and answers a broader question:

What sort of belief-system should be preferred in our government's office-holders? The atheist's? The relativist's (by this, I mean all relativistic religions,such as Hinduism, Buddhism, "New Age," Paganism and Neo-paganism, etc.)? The Jew's, or the Muslim's? Or the Christian's?

He examines how different worldviews would affect one's approach to government, then brings out some relevant quotes from America's Founding Fathers about the kind of belief system they thought was necessary to the system of government they designed.

Eric Siegmund of Fire Ant Gazette has some kind words for me and this blog and writes:

Michael's column is worth reading whether you care anything about Tulsa politics or not. It contains some universal truths about why Christianity and politics can mix without diluting the former or distorting the latter. If nothing else, perhaps it will give some critics of "religious politicians" a better understanding of why many of those politicians are not hesitant to refer to the role that faith plays in their lives...and politics.

manasclerk says that living within a faith community that holds its members accountable makes a difference, and draws a contrast between Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton in that regard.

Red Bug at Tulsa Chiggers compares the situation on the Tulsa City Council to power politics at work on a non-profit board.

Sean Gleeson has posted two responses in a planned series of three entries on faith in the public square: God and Bates in Tulsa, The Fool's Heart Inclineth to the Left. UPDATE: The third installment of the trilogy is up -- The New Devouter -- in which he says that I got it backwards, and he may have a point.

PCA pastor David Bayly, who has some personal experience with faith and boldness in the public square, writes:

Michael's vision of Christian action in the political sphere is both bracing and realistic--bracing because it is realistic in its view of the centrality of faith to action. In a Christian world where what matters politically is usually numbers and pragmatism, Bates speaks Christian realism: faith, not numbers, not connections, not wealth, is power.

Also linking: Caffeinated Musings.

I'll update this entry as I spot more responses to the column. Email me at blog AT batesline DOT com, if I've missed yours. And at some point soon, I'll actually respond to some of the responses.


susan said:

I picked up a Urban Tulsa Weekly yesterday and showed Michael Bates column of Faith and Politcal Courage to several other people. They read it and were impressed.

Many are disgusted with the Tulsa World and their subscribers continued to go down. They harrass Chris Medlock, Tulsa City Council and other councilors that don't see things "their way" by constantly putting them in a negative light.

To give an example of a person holding a government position that purposely tried to deceive when he got caught lying was Bill Clinton. A president who put his hand on the Bible and swore to tell the truth. On national televsion, millions around the United States and around the world saw the former President Bill Clinton LIE and said "I did not have sex with that woman". When Monica Lewinsky presented FACTS with EVIDENCE of the sex he willingly had with her in the oval office leaders around the world and citizens of the United States thought to themselves if he would lie on national television what are all the other possible lies he told and got away?
Will BILL AND HILLARY CLINTON, that represented their democratic party, ever be fully trusted ever again from all of the questionable situations both got themselves in to? I believe there is a book called HELL TO PAY about Hillary Clinton. Her "faith" would be questioned from what was written.

I think the majority would agree, citizens want people they can trust. They want government office holders that will NOT deceive them.
They want accountability and responsibility.

susan said:

The book HELL TO PAY was written by Barbara Olson.

W. Author Profile Page said:

I don't buy the notion that effective leadership and religious faith are inseparable. Competence, integrity and good old-fashioned smarts are far more valuable in the political arena.

If your car breaks down, do you call a certified mechanic to fix it, or do you call a haphazardly trained Shadetree Slim who preaches on the side? I think we all know the commonsense answer.

Politics is no place for those who are amateurs, those who have muddy goals, or those who are so scatterbrained that they don't know whether they have an MBA or not.

Thomas Jefferson was at best ambivalent about religion in politics, and no one would ever accuse him of being a timid Founding Father. He valued intelligence, justice and freedom more than religion.

Meanwhile, the current president professes his faith a lot, but doesn't seem to be doing anything particularly well, especially budget deficits, securing Iraq after the war, and keeping his aides out of trouble.

Don't give me a politician who has faith. Give me a politician who can do his doggone job.

Dan Paden said:

W, you ol' rascal, you keep tossing out the fallacy of the false alternative. Every time I've seen you discuss this issue, you present it as though the alternatives were a) elect an incompetent Christian or b) elect a competent non-Christian. There seems to be no room in your brain housing group for the concept of the competent Christian. Neither Michael nor anyone else I am aware of has suggested or encouraged the election of incompetents of any variety, rather that Christianity is a desirable element in our public officials.

W. Author Profile Page said:

Dan, you made the false assumption that I am referring solely to incompetent Christians.

The overriding important qualifications for elected officials, or any other skilled vocation, is competence, intelligence and integrity. If the same person is Christian, fine. One can be a Christian and be all of the above. But if I'm looking at two candidates and one is a Christian and one isn't, that isn't going to be a big deal for me. I check their qualifications, intelligence, record and integrity first. The Christian angle is way down the list on which one gets my vote.

Michael Bates is highly skilled in computer programming and has the education and experience to reflect this. The fact he's a Christian might be a bonus in his work (although it might be irrelevant, too). If I need complex computer programming done, am I going to call Bates because he's a good programmer, or because he's a Christian? The answer is apparent.

The point is, we're placing way too much emphasis on faith when other qualifications are far more crucial.

Or, as they say on the farm, we're putting the cart before the horse.

Michael Sanditen said:

Perhaps you only print those comments that you filter....

I thought I would send this again just in case it did not make it in your first cut. I looked everywhere, but it has failed to show it is.

Michael Bates,
While more than often I find common ground with your points of view, I must remind you of the principle of separation between church and state of which this country was founded. If indeed we allow faith based individuals to use their faith to affect our lives through governing, then the following quote from the new testament would seem to cause a small problem for many citizens.

He [Jesus] said, "He who is not for Me is against Me," just so you know where He's coming from.

From Matthew 12:30. "He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."

Michael Sanditen, I've approved every one of your comments that has shown up in the list of comments posted. Occasionally, when you press post, something happens to stop the process before it completes, and the comment isn't logged in the blog software's database.

I do have comment moderation turned on, which means comments posted won't show up until I log in and approve them. The way around this is to register with -- it's free -- and to log in with your TypeKey account before posting a comment.

Dan Paden said:

Dan, you made the false assumption that I am referring solely to incompetent Christians.

Oh, be fair, dude. I could have been misled by the fact that all your hypotheticals in your first comment were of incompetents! But still, if your position, more accurately stated, is you prefer the most competent person, Christian or otherwise, and if no one has suggested putting incompetents, Christian or otherwise, into office (I don't believe anyone has suggested any such thing), then you're not likely to be dramatically disappointed by any candidate I support.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 3, 2005 11:39 PM.

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