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Political candidates and religion

[ by Charles Cameron — responding properly to Tim Furnish ]

Political candidates and religion is not quite the same as church and state — an issue on which, as a Brit living in the States, I am profoundly impressed both ways. However, religion in politics very much interests me, and in my news scan early this morning I noted this tweet:

To which I responded:

Tim Furnish picked up on this, and tweeted:


From my point of view, I think that’s both a fair question and a great DoubleQuotes opportunity, so I followed Tim’s lead to the NYT piece he was refering to, and the result, phrased in headlines, is as follows:

Cruz Clinton


  • AP, Now deeply Christian, Cruz’s religion once wasn’t so obvious
  • NYT, Hillary Clinton Gets Personal on Christ and Her Faith
  • **

    For myself, I’m glad that Hillary Clinton “rarely talks about faith on the campaign trail” and that Ted Cruz‘s religion “once wasn’t so obvious”. Tithing as an obligation isn’t anything I worry about — the widow’s mite story gets to the heart of things, I think — and I’m a fan of reticence in matters of faith in any case:

    Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee

    pretty much puts the kybosh on publicity, methinks, as does:

    when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret..

    Similary, the second of MaimonidesEight levels of charity is this:

    to give to the poor without knowing to whom one gives, and without the recipient knowing from who he received. For this is performing a mitzvah solely for the sake of Heaven.

    And the Qur’an, Sura 76. 8-9, suggests:

    They give food, for the love of Him, to the needy, the orphan, the captive: “’We feed you only for the Face of God; we desire no recompense from you, no thankfulness..”

    I’m not dogmatically tied to these views, Tim, but I admire them greatly — IMO, there’s simply so much beauty in such advice!

    4 Responses to “Political candidates and religion”

    1. Charles Cameron Says:

      Fascinating piece on the topic of Trump and evangelicals from Brookings — Trump’s inexplicable support among evangelical voters may be decisive in Iowa:

      Earlier this month, Trump came close to retracting the admission that he ever did anything wrong. “I like to be good,” he told Jake Tapper. “And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad.” There is some daylight between these reflections and the Sermon on the Mount. Nonetheless, Trump asserted, “I have a great relationship with God. [And] I have a great relationship with the evangelicals.” Thus far, survey research has been able to confirm only the latter assertion.

      I love the understatement:

      There is some daylight between these reflections and the Sermon on the Mount.

      But — ahem! — isn’t that true for all of us?

    2. Grurray Says:

      That article was somewhat misleading. Trump never said he didn’t do anything wrong. He said he didn’t ask God for forgiveness:
      “Last year, Republican pollster Frank Luntz asked him whether he had ever asked God for forgiveness. “I’m not sure I have,” Trump replied. “If I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture.””
      This may be splitting hairs to the sophisticated political scientists, but to Evangelicals, faith and fellowship are enough to cleanse sin. For example 1 John 1:7:
      “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

    3. Charles Cameron Says:

      Aha, but I John I, which you quote, immediately continues:

      If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

      My own background is Anglican and Catholic, so I’m used to confession as both an obligation and a sacrament, but your observation that for (some?) Evangelicals, “faith and fellowship are enough to cleanse sin” isn’t something I’d have thought of — but I’m always eager to learn.
      Would this be the view of any particular denominations? And how might they parse those succeeding verses?
      Much obliged!

    4. Grurray Says:

      Charles, I was born, raised, and educated a Catholic, so my understanding of it is similar to yours. All I know is what I’ve managed to pick up, from friends mostly. I know many people these days who are into the non-denominational evangelical churches popping.
      Anyway, someone should correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they would point to the doctrine of baptism.
      Baptism cleanses away sin, so submitting to it and accepting it (once) is tied together with the act of confessing (once).

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