11/05/2012 12:13 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Religious Questions We Ask When We Vote

Hurricane Sandy altered more than the physical landscape of the East coast; the storm, at least for now, changed the political landscape, as well. New Jersey Governor (and Mitt Romney surrogate) Chris Christie made several appearances with President Obama as a result of the tragic damage from the storm. When asked about his perception of the president, Christie acknowledged that before this crisis he hadn't really known Obama, but since working with him he has praised the president for the federal government's response to New Jersey's dire situation.

I am struck by Christie's change not because it might affect the election but because it suggests how a different set of questions can fundamentally change one's perception of what appeared to be a well-defined position. In Christie's case he no longer asked how to defeat Barack Obama, but how to help the people of New Jersey. Different questions led to different perceptions of the same person and institution.

Might we consider how a different set of questions would change our views of other well-defined positions?

For example, what questions do we and can we ask of our religion when we go to vote? I think the most typical questions might include:

Which candidates align most closely with my faith?

Which candidates are supported by the institutions of my faith?

Which candidates hold the same view of issue "x" (read: abortion or aid to the poor) as my faith institution?

But what if we changed the questions?

Has my faith changed because of the results of other elections?

What would happen if all voters chose candidates based on their faith, which in America includes people of many different faiths?

How does my faith institution differ and distinguish itself from my political institutions?

How will voting influence my ability to practice my faith tradition?

If these second set of questions lead to answers that are fundamentally different from the first set, should we not consider the nature of the questions we ask when we take our religion to the polls?