As we watch the political posturing of candidates and prepare to vote March 15 in Florida, it seems all persons of faith -- any faith -- should stop and ask themselves: What role does my faith play in a political election?
Here is one Christian pastor's answer to the question.
I am proud of our country and hope we may be successful and strong, but not at a cost to ethics, which supersede patriotism.
My faith informs the ethics of private and public life. It guides me to seek as my forebears did, a fair and just society, with a government and economy promoting human dignity, freedom and responsibility, peace and well-being for all.
It seeks a military, police, and judicial system taking a stand against injustice and cruelty, without abusing power.
I celebrate the Declaration of Independence and I pray we will one day live into these values of these words without reserve: "We hold these truths to be self-evident -- that all (persons) are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
This language makes room for persons of all faiths, and this language encourages us to live with a deep respect for all of humanity. In these ways, it is aligned with the values of my faith, while much of today's political rhetoric is not so aligned.
The Hebrew Scriptures teach the covenant people of God that they are blessed to be a blessing to others, remembering that all gifts come from God. (Gen. 12 and Deut. 26)
They are to welcome the stranger and be generous toward the aliens in their land (Deut. 10 and Lev. 19)
They are to honor God, parents, and others by resting, being honest, respecting life, keeping promises, and not lying nor stealing nor desiring what belongs to another. (Ex. 20)
They are to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. (Mic. 6)
They will find shalom when they seek shalom for those in whose grip they find themselves. (Jer. 29)
The Christian Scriptures call all people to see self and others as beloved, holy and precious in God's sight. (Eph. 1 and I Pet. 2)
Jesus summarized the commandments as loving God completely and loving neighbor as you love yourself. (Matt. 22 and Mark 12)
He said that you should do to others as you would have them do to you and beware if you are rich and powerful. (Luke 6)
Jesus told many parables about the disaster of accumulating riches (Luke 16, Matt. 19-20) or acting in ways that are self-centered. (Luke 14 and 18)
Jesus and his mother, Mary, along with Zechariah, said Christ came to lift up the oppressed, take down the powerful, bring peace, and set people free (Luke 1 and 4)
He praised in his parables those who were merciful, forgiving, and kind. (Luke 10 and 15)
He and the early church lived with generosity of spirit toward outsiders, the weak and despised, those rejected by the power-brokers of their day. (John 9, 12, and 15, 1 John 3, Acts 10)
My Judeo-Christian identity teaches me to seek leaders who will govern with the kinds of values mentioned above.
Let us elect leaders who will recognize human dignity when they speak of others, even those we consider enemies.
Let us elect leaders who will have the courage to do what is right, even if others speak ill of them.
Let us elect leaders who will share wisdom, power, and wealth with the weak in our nation and with the people of goodwill everywhere, so that all people on earth might live with more justice, faith, hope, love, and peace. (Matt. 5, 1 Cor. 1 and Rom. 12)
As we read in the book of James (1 & 2) and in the prophet Amos (5), faith without works is dead.
Claiming to love God while being abusive or uncaring toward another, especially the weak or poor, makes us liars and brings upon us the judgment of God. (Matt. 25) But thanks be to our merciful God, whom Christians believe came as the Christ, we all can be forgiven. (Jer. 31 and Rom. 8-11)
We are made new people as we humbly turn from arrogance and toward God. (2 Chron. 7 & I Pet. 5) As those who have been forgiven, let us forgive. (Col. 3) As those who have received mercy, let us be merciful. (Luke 6)
And let us exercise the privilege of voting for persons who will lead toward our values and not away from them. True greatness belongs to the pure of heart, not to the powerful.
The Rev. Elizabeth Deibert: 941-753-7778 Peace Presbyterian Church, 12705 State Road 64, Lakewood Ranch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-753-777. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.