Religion invoked as a reason to vote for or against a political candidate - by which we generally mean invoking god and some scriptural passage or other sacred text as proof for our view - is a low-level use of religion that makes religion small, mere apologetics at best and idolatry at worst. Any religion that has knocked around the planet for a long time can be used to prove almost anything and "religious" reasons can always be marshaled to buttress one's political favorite. So not surprisingly religious conservatives always seem to use their religious sources and to trot out their religious passages to prove that voting for McCain is what god really wants and religious liberals always seem to use their religious sources and to trot out their religious passages to prove that voting for Obama is what god wants. This predominant way in which religion is used adds nothing to either the process or the content of political debate except combustible, nasty, fuel that polarizes, divides, and deflects people with different positions from actually trying to understand each other and learn from each other. The only thing we learn from people who use religion to affirm their political predispositions or who use god as a trump card to prove their position is that they are either not capable of adequately explaining why they believe what they do or do not actually understand why they believe what they do - and the more fiercely people on either side use religion this way the more they are hiding a deep unconscious uncertainty about the very view they are so fiercely holding.
Anyway, if McCain supporters have religious reasons to vote for their guy and Obama supporters have religious reasons to vote for their guy maybe god is just a wash and we ought to just try to explain ourselves to each other while leaving god out of it. Or maybe we ought to begin to realize that religion -not politics dressed up in religious language - rarely if ever prescribes one particular political position as the whole truth and that God - not god dressed up as God/the Infinite - is not some political cheerleader up in heaven rooting us on for our necessary but finite political positions and candidates to win. A religion that genuinely evokes, hints at, connects us to, and expresses the yearning for the Infinite and which generates within us ever deeper capacity for compassion, ought not to give us "reasons" to shore up our belief in some finite political view or candidate. Rather religion ought to be constantly destabilizing and undermining the political positions we are so sure about. After all God - not god - is Infinite and therefore is somehow reflected and embodied on all sides.
So if we are voting for Obama our religion ought to remind us that our political favorite as strongly as we "believe" in him has only a partial truth- even though that partial truth compels us to vote for him - and that the religious mandate is to use our religious sources to help us locate and wrestle with the partial truth on the other side so as to be ever widening our grasp of the Truth. And if we are voting for McCain our religion ought to remind us that our political favorite as strongly as we "believe" in him has only a partial truth- even though that partial truth compels us to vote for him - and that the religious mandate is to use our religious sources to help us locate and wrestle with the partial truth on the other side so as to be ever widening our grasp of the Truth.
It turns out there are always religious reasons we can marshal to support our guy. But if all citing our religious verses and texts does is support, shore up, bolster, and legitimate our existing political and psychological predispositions - be they liberal or conservative - then religion is just one more expression of our narcissism and we have made god in our image. And when god gets that small the guns- both proverbial and literal- get bigger. The far more faithful and healthier role for religion is for its wisdom and teachings to make us more humble about the political beliefs and positions to which we do commit and about the rightness of the candidates for whom we vote while compelling us to grapple with and recognize the partial truth - however small that truth might be- of the political beliefs and positions of those with whom we most disagree. It is always easy to find a religious reason to support us in voting for the candidate we already believe in- that's the political thing to do. The genuine religious thing to do is to allow our religious wisdom to reveal to us the religious reasons why the candidate we do not vote for and his supporters need to be listened to even after he loses. When the God of our religions gets this big the guns will get smaller and religion will indeed be a source of healing, wholeness, and peace.
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