I wrote last week about our historic Candidates Forum on Faith, Values and Poverty. We had only 15 minutes with each candidate, so there was not enough time to ask all of the questions I had prepared (click here for highlights of the forum). Here are four that I hoped to ask and wasn't able to.
1. As you know, 3 billion people--half of God's children on the planet--still live on less than $2 a day. Inspired by faith leaders and efforts such as the ONE campaign, a new generation of Christians is making ending extreme poverty a defining cause. At the 2005 G-8 Summit, leaders pledged to double aid to Africa. Our nation has endorsed the Millennium Development Goals, which commit to cutting in half the number of people living in extreme poverty. As president, what steps would you take to ensure that the United States keeps those promises to billions of people and actually leads the world in this moral and religious imperative?
2. In the New Testament, the beatitudes offer a vision for the world with statements like: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom... Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill...Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." How would this biblical vision of the world shape your leadership and politics?
3. The command "be not afraid" appears more times in the Bible than any other, and yet U.S. foreign policy seems to be driven by fear, primarily of terrorist attacks. Our leaders seek to justify the most important decisions in foreign policy with dire warnings of impending attacks. Have we let fear push out wisdom and prudence as the primary virtues of foreign policy? Should the biblical command "be not afraid" have a role in foreign policy decision-making?
4. Partnerships between faith-based organizations and the government have raised concerns about the separation of church and state and debates over the role of churches and of government in reducing poverty and meeting social needs. Some argue that having faith-based and community organizations meet more needs allows the government to shirk its duty to help the poor. Others argue that faith-based providers are best equipped to meet needs and they simply need more resources. How do you think faith-based organizations and government should work in partnership--or not--in meeting social needs?
I know the other questioners also had some great questions; there just wasn't enough time. But the dialogue was very rich nonetheless. I am in London at the moment, and am being told that the coverage of our faith forum was very extensive in the U.K. I just had dinner with a number of British political and church leaders who believe the forum really changed the perceptions of faith and politics on this side of the pond. They were very excited to discuss the issues further.