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    The Fractured Politician

    June 5, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    It came to my attention this morning that last night was the Sojourners Forum on Faith and Values. This gave Democrat presidential candidates a chance to talk about their religious beliefs and the impacts of those beliefs on both their personal lives and how they would govern should they be elected.

    It is my understanding {here is the transcript of what transpired that I admit I only partially read}, that both Clinton and Obama talked about “faith” in generic terms. In other words, they didn’t really define what they believed. This makes the listener able to simply input their own definition of faith when hearing the answers from these two.

    However, I am much more interested in Mr. John Edwards, who declared, “I have a deep and abiding love for my Lord, Jesus Christ.” Edwards was asked if he believed in gay marriage. I believe his answer typifies what is wrong with politics today:

    EDWARDS: No. Not personally. Now you’re asking about me personally. But I think there’s a difference between my belief system and what the responsibilities of the president of the United States are. It is the reason we have separation of church and state.

    [snip]

    [M]y belief in Christ plays an enormous role in the way I view the world. But I think I also understand the distinction between my job as president of the United States, my responsibility to be respectful of and to embrace all faith beliefs in this country because we have many faith beliefs in America. And for that matter we have many faith beliefs in the world. And I think one of the problems that we’ve gotten into is some identification of the president of the United States with a particular faith belief as opposed to showing great respect for all faith beliefs.

    Please tell me where the Constitution describes a President’s responsibility to “embrace all faith beliefs in this country.” But I digress.

    Edwards’ answer reveals a complete and utter lack of integrity if I ever saw one. Integrity, after all, is rooted in the idea of being integrated in one’s soul. Remember Soren Kierkegaard’s work Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing? This is ultimate integrity: all parts of a life and soul building up into one idea, one Great Idea. Contradictions are impurities, to use Kierkegaard’s language.

    Now, there are many times when one does not realize that one is lacking in integrity in a certain area. This has happened to me before, where I suddenly realized that I was acting in such a way that I denied, for instance, the doctrine of sin, that all men were sinners. Intellectually, I assented, but my actions (in this case accepting verbal rather than written contracts, especially in my dealings with nonchristians) insisted that man was basically good and refused to doubt the ability of a person to sin against me.

    However, it is an entirely different level to stand up and say that one believes one thing, but will lead an entire nation in a different direction! Soledad O’Brien pressed Edwards in the direction of integrity, and asked him, “If you think something is morally wrong, though, you morally disagree with it, as president of the United States, don’t you have a duty to go with your moral belief?” and Edwards’ answer was a resounding no.

    What would it mean to my family if my husband declared that he believed in Christ and yet refused to teach our children Christian truth? What would be the point of his belief? In action, he would stand for absolutely nothing. And something else, something evil would likely fill the vacuum.

    And yet no one is questioning Edwards on this point. If Christianity is true {and he claims that it is}, why would he desire to govern the country in any other way? And if he doesn’t stand for his own stated belief system, what in the world is the point of electing him?

    I look around and I see this sort of thing everywhere in politics. Politicians, stating a certain belief, acting in complete contradiction. Most of them, however, don’t admit it out loud like Mr. Edwards.

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