You are going to read, and if you are reading hard have already read, lots of stuff about religion in the general election now upon us. Most of it does not matter.
For example, the religious label you choose to apply to each candidate will not matter in the end. How you report about it will. For example, the same man, in two separate interviews about faith seems to say Romney has a faith problem and he does not. Of course, we do not know what questions were asked and what part of the interviews was not discussed in the two pieces. What we do know if we read carefully is that whatever faith problem exists, it is more about the press than the electorate. Don’t just read the headlines and the ledes, read what Richard Land is actually saying.
It’s not about those few remaining people that claim they still have a problem with Romney. Sore losers are sore losers. It’s not about “Mormon moments” and JFK. In the end, Catholic life was unchanged after JFK was elected, sure there was a psychological uplift, but what it meant to be a Catholic and Catholic life in general was far more changed by Vatican II at roughly the same time than it was by an election for POTUS.
It may have far more to do with race than anyone in the country is willing to admit, but not is the way most people would have us think. The problem is not what the LDS church believed or said 30-40 years ago, the problem is race will be used as a club, if not heavy artillery. Things that happened before a good deal of the electorate was born will be used to raise guilt, if not wielded as direct reverse-racism. And that brings me to the real issue.
Rick Santorum’s decision Tuesday to suspend his campaign effectively ends the GOP nomination fight. But it doesn’t mark the start of the general election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. That contest has long been under way. Mr. Obama’s speech to the Associated Press last week and two appearances in Florida on Tuesday provide a glimpse of the low road the president and his campaign likely will take.
He will distort beyond recognition his opponent’s arguments. For example, he explained to news executives at the AP that Republicans want to “convert more of our investments in education and research and health care into tax cuts—especially for the wealthy.” Actually, no one has suggested that.
No honest differences are possible with Mr. Obama. He will impugn the motives of any who disagree with him. As he told the AP, his opponents want to “let businesses pollute more and treat workers and consumers with impunity.” His agenda “isn’t a partisan feeling . . . [it]isn’t a Democratic or Republican idea. It’s patriotism.” To disagree with him is unpatriotic. That’s to be expected from Republicans, whom Mr. Obama says stand for “thinly veiled social Darwinism . . . [that is] antithetical to our entire history.”
Distortions…falsehoods…outright lies, this is the stuff of the Obama campaign. Yesterday already saw an attempt not merely to argue, but to impugn the lifestyle of millions of American women. This stuff will be personal, nasty, ugly, and angering. It’s all part of “the Chicago way:”
The question facing those of us of faith is how do we respond? If we take our faith seriously, whatever particularly brand it may be, we simply cannot crawl in the gutter with Obama. That does not mean we are not strong, we are in fact stronger. When he pulls a knife, we do pull a gun but we do so not in anger or revenge instead with purpose and intent.
We do not lie, we stick to the facts. There is no need to engage in personal vindictive nor impugn the character of our opponent. The facts speak for themselves. We may have to shout to gain attention, but once we have that attention we return to a reasonable tone of voice.
We occupy the moral high ground and we cannot be driven from it by lies, innuendo and gutter tactics – we can only concede it by resorting to same. We face a terrible battle, and we will have to fight very, very hard. In this battle we will wound many of our opposition; such is not a sin. But if we do so to be vindictive, if we resort to lies, then our opponent, though wounded will have won the exchange.
The campaign ahead will be a test of our faith. To some extent it will be a test of our faith in the public square. But more importantly it will be a test of our personal faith. It will be the kind of test that will build our character to new heights if we submit to it. It is going to be an interesting seven or eight months.
They can also be a fruitful months on many levels.