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When the sun broke through

October 5, 2016

I watched last night’s tedious VP debate and, as time went by, grew more and more depressed by the relentless “He’s horrible/She’s horrible” attacks on Trump and Clinton.  I almost turned my TV off in disgust but I am glad I did not.

At the end, moderator Elaine Quijano, who until that point had gone 0 for 29 in trying to avoid being interrupted, asked Kaine and Pence to tell of a time when there was tension between their faith and their political obligations.  And, lo and behold, in their answers the sun broke through the fog.  Both men gave thoughtful and relatable, albeit very different, responses.

Kaine, a devoted Catholic, talked about the tension between his faith-based opposition to the death penalty and his need, as governor of Virginia, to enforce that penalty.  He made the clear and heartfelt case that in a democratic society we can hold and promote faith-based positions but need to allow others to differ.  Still more, he said that as an office holder you sometimes had to enforce things you profoundly dislike.

Pence, a strong evangelical, was equally articulate about his faith-based passion for the unborn and his opposition to abortion.  You could easily sense, in this soft-spoken man, that this was an emotional issue for him and that he would never stop pushing for a way to drastically reduce the number of abortions.

It delighted me that here were two men running for high office openly and unashamedly talking about their faith.  Still more, it was clear that these were not just canned political sound bites intended to score points with their political base.  (Although they did score those points.)  We were left free to disagree with either of them as they disagreed with each other.  I had the overpowering desire to see them debate when, and under what circumstances, we should try to make our faith-based beliefs the law of the land.  Alas, that was not going to happen.

Nevertheless, it was a joy to behold a faith discussion among politicians on the national political stage.  In a land that seems increasingly secular and pluralistic it gave me hope that there is still a place in our political discourse for people of faith.  Frankly I think that a lot our country’s problems – poverty, race relations, immigration, health care, etc. – could be better solved if people of various faith backgrounds (including atheists and the non-religious) sat down to talk.  I’d be happy to see both Kaine and Pence at that table.

From → Christianity

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