On what basis does the non-theistic and practical atheist make moral choices, which include going to war and capital punishment? One might answer, "the Constitution," but to many liberals the Constitution is a "living document" subject to constant interpretation, re-interpretation and revision to match "the times." So is it the times that shape such a presidential candidate, or something more permanent?
Democrats, most notably Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, have invoked God and Scripture during their campaigns. But theirs is a selective reading. Their theology meshes with the political objectives of their party and personal ideology. They quote Scripture about caring for the poor and interpret that to mean higher taxes and bigger government. They ignore those passages that speak of the inner life.
Conservatives can also practice a theology of political convenience, cherry-picking those subjects that rally "the base" and tickle the ears of the church-going, while ignoring mandates that make them uncomfortable, such as opposing racial discrimination, injustice and poverty. They want lower taxes and smaller government but often are not willing to take up the slack and get their hands dirty to help the poor, unlike the One they claim to follow. Not always, but mostly.
While Kinsley asks some good questions, who among the journalists and talk show hosts has the background to ask them directly of the candidates? Those without theological training or experience in faith often find such questions embarrassing because they don't want to face ridicule from their mostly secular colleagues. But to hide these issues in the catacombs of journalism is a poor excuse. The questions should be asked of both the religious and the secular to help voters make up their minds which ones best adhere to godly principles and to determine what standards govern the ones who do not.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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