How Important to You is an Elected Official's Faith?

Government, politics, and the law.

How Important to You is an Elected Official's Faith?

Postby scrivener » Wed Oct 05, 2005 8:19 am

Lt. Governor Duke Aiona recently made headlines when, at a church function, he claimed Hawaii as Christ's.

The Lt. Governor is entitled to his opinion, of course, but be honest: does a statement like this make you feel better about him as a representative of the people, or worse?

Honestly, I don't care what a person's religious belief are when he or she assumes office. The job of an elected official is to participate in the government of a people, and I believe that's a secular thing. If Aiona had claimed Hawaii for Allah or Zoroaster, it wouldn't change my opinion toward his ability to do his job.

I can sense it. You disagree. Tell me why.
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Postby Foxen » Thu Oct 06, 2005 3:00 am

I forgot the exact term, but it had to do with Constantine. The argument went something like this..."When you have a dominant ruler who propagates his Christianity...all other Christianity dies, while HIS particular Christianity flourishes. (paraphrased). I kinda agree, even in this day and age.

Anyhow, where I am now, I don't mind if our leaders "claim" to be Christian...I mean, after all, Bill Clinton was a great "Christian" leader and featured as a key speaker at the Willow Creek Leadership Conference several ago. I also got to see at the National Cathederal where he sat for service...every week (or so said the nun). Actually, most politicians are "Christians" and go to church etc.

Aiona is a bit different though...he seems more active in his faith. But, that kinda annoys me when he's so public about trying to claim the state for Christ in and possibly through his position. Personally, I don't think people should "abuse" their positions for Christ...to be pushy with their faith through their authority. Likewise, I definately do not like to see Christianity "legislated" or "judiciated" by Christians in these positions.

I don't want Christianity FORCED onto people through law or what not. That pisses me off. More so, Christians look like the bad guys...trampling out other people's cultures...but again, it's the more dominant modern western christians that are stamping people out through the empowered authority.

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Postby kaholo4Him » Sat Oct 08, 2005 9:08 pm

i was at a transf.hi. thing where the lt.gov. spoke... i believe he's technically a catholic. in any case, i, too am a little uneasy about seeing politicians profess their faith mainly because it can come across as being 'pushy with their faith through their authority' as foxen had put it. politicians (& anyone else for that matter) who talk the talk and don't walk the walk do more damage than anything positive that could come out of their association with christianity. i think you can be a christian politician - leading with integrity and all that without having to be so outspoken about your faith. the thing with transf.hi. and movements like that is that they tend to focus on the power players - government leaders, corporate ceo's etc. and parade them in front of the public as an endorsement to christianity (& also to their organization). i dunno. it isn't something that i've bought into, but i know whole congregations who've bought into it hook, line & sinker...
hmmm...i would be more likely to vote for an upstanding jew if his opponent was a slick dude who threw around his christian religious affiliation just to garner votes...
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Postby partyofsix » Thu Oct 13, 2005 9:46 pm

I did not hear the Lt. Governor’s remarks, neither do I know the context from which he spoke—was he speaking as the Lt. Governor, a Christian, or a Christian Lt. Governor, and is it possible to separate the two, and is it wise to try. While the governing of a people might be a secular activity, is there a point in the carrying our of one’s secular duties that one ceases to be a Christian (a follower of Christ), if only for a moment, in order to fulfill a secular office?

But back to Aiona’s comment in claiming Hawaii as Christ’s. It seems cheap to me. While it might sound like a bold statement, the claiming of an entire land and people for Christ, it is theologically ugly. Can we really claim anything for Christ? If we agree with the preamble of the Gospel of John, then everything already belongs to Christ.

What is “transf.hi”?
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Postby scrivener » Mon Oct 17, 2005 8:26 am

Darn it. I can't find the relevant news article. I believe Aiona was speaking at a prayer breakfast or something; definitely a Christian context and probably more as a Christian man doing a secular job than as Lt. Governor. And yes, he is Catholic.
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Aggressive might be a relative term

Postby rapturos » Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:53 pm

Okay, just trying to be a troublemaker, but I love this quote from one of the Founding Fathers (our very own Ben Franklin); personally, I think compared to brother Duke they were flamin' believers;

"[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."

"I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that "except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."
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And one to ice it

Postby rapturos » Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:58 pm

Here's another one that I think is a three-pointer, from deep in the corner; (by Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence)

"Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, [and] which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and [which] insured to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments."
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Another slam dunker (just for good measure)

Postby rapturos » Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:24 pm

Now this man, James McHenry, a signer of the Constitution, might have got run out on a rail for this one, but surely would have provided cover fire for Duke's remarks:


"[P]ublic utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience."
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Postby partyofsix » Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:23 pm

I find it difficult to see Franklin as a "Flamin' believer", regardless of some of his statements (erroneous, I might add, or at least out of context)concerning scripture. Like many of the Founding Fathers, there is strong evidence that Franklin was more deist than Christian, and certainly doesn't come anywhere near the standard of Evangelical Christianity of our time. Far from being a "flamin' believer", it would have been a struggle for Franklin to rise to the level of casual believer.

I find it curious that Franklin would turn to scripture and argue for prayer in the process of building a nation and a government. Perhaps he found the task so daunting, he was looking for all the help he could possibly muster.

As one of the arguments for prayer (before each convening of what I assume to be the Continental Congress), Franklin cites Psalm 127, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."

The irony of Franklin's arguement is that the burden of Psalm 127 is not placed on creation, but on God. It is not up to the people to do whatever it takes--pray, live ethically and morally--to get God on their side so that they might prosper. What the psalmist is in fact saying, at least in this particular instance, is that it doesn't matter what we do. The burden is upon the Lord. "Unless the Lord builds the house..." represents more the futility of life than a plea to get God on our side.

Also, the "house" mentioned in Psalm 127 is probably a reference to Solomon's temple and the community of faith, and not the building of a nation.

If we do accept that Franklin, Carrol, and McHenry were devout Christians, even Evangelical by today's standards, which Carrol and McHenry certainly might have been, their recommendations/suggestions/proposals, did not receive widespread acceptance, neither were they adopted by the body.
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Postby kaholo4Him » Mon Nov 07, 2005 11:35 pm

i've been meaning to post earlier, but haven't gotten around to it. it's funny how after i posted on the t.h. thing earlier, God arranged it so that i could be at my old church the two sundays where things were brought up that made me think a retraction is in order... a couple of weeks ago, there was a testimony time from members of the congregation on how God was working in their lives as they went through the anointed for business series in their small groups. normal people - small steps & small victories. it was very encouraging. it wasn't like the last event i described with the big names & bright lights. one of the leaders of one of the gates did come up to speak, but he talked about his personal experience about how everything came about and what God has done since the event. cool stuff.
so yah, this past week, i ended up at mgmc again--- and the pastor described what happened in a recent meeting with the lt. gov. and a number of other elected officials. it's amazing what God is doing - and it's about a bunch of people sincerely wanting to follow Jesus & do the right thing, while in the jobs they're currently in. ask for a copy of the sermon if you're interested in hearing the story... if the line of thinking that you can be a 'minister in your marketplace' is okay for secular jobs, why is that suddenly not okay if you're in public office? or in the courtroom, for that matter? (ooh, i'm opening a can of worms here, i just know it... responses welcome, though =) ). i'm still not totally into the t.h. thing, but it's never good to throw out the baby with the bath water is it?
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Right on, amen to that

Postby rapturos » Tue Nov 08, 2005 12:58 am

Oooh, this is good, this is good ... I like where you said "people sincerely wanting to follow Jesus & do the right thing" ... I see that as kind of a prophetic word there, you know ... where if you follow Jesus you're going to end up trying to do the right thing and if you do the right thing (according to Jesus' standards) you're going to end up taking a risk so to speak, whether you know it or not, as in "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim 3:12) and "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." (Mat 5:12)
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Postby partyofsix » Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:56 pm

Kaholo,

I'm not sure what you mean by being a minister in the market place, and being a minister in public office. I don't think it's not not okay to be a Christian or even a minister in public office. If by minister, you mean a follower of Christ, after all, aren't all Christians supposed to be ministers, then it's impossible for many public servants to not be ministers, short of barring Christians from holding public office.

Now, if the Lt. Governor was to make the statement that he made, about claiming Hawaii for Christ, outside of a church setting, (I’m not restricting church setting to inside a church building), and in his official capacity as Lt. Governor, I’d have a real problem with that, if I still lived in Hawaii.

I like what Foxen said regarding Constantine.
When you have a dominant ruler who propagates his Christianity...all other Christianity dies, while HIS particular Christianity flourishes.


I find the public face of Christianity, in politics today, to be disturbing. The dominant form of Christianity in American politics is right wing, republican, pro war, pro tax cut, anti abortion, anti gay, anti poor, oh no we're being persecuted because we can't have the ten commandments on display in public schools and government office buildings. This dominant form of Christian expression in public life shuts out other valid expressions of Christianity.

I'm not against Christians in public office, but just once, instead of speaking out against homosexuality or abortion (two areas in which the Gospels are virtually silent), or saying something as useless as claiming Hawaii for Christ, just once, I want to hear a politician say, "I'm going to tax the hell out of you, so we can care for the poor and the oppressed."
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Postby Foxen » Wed Nov 09, 2005 3:51 am

kaholo4Him wrote:it's amazing what God is doing - and it's about a bunch of people sincerely wanting to follow Jesus & do the right thing, while in the jobs they're currently in.


Kaloho...just responding. You know what is scary, that some people's "following Jesus and doing the right thing" can be a very very scary thing. As I've often quoted, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

I'm thinking, all those "witches" burned at the stake, or drowned in the lakes...because it was the right thing to do; the systematic rejection and death of Native American and Native Hawaiian culture, because manifest destiny dictates that God favors the western white world, and God means for them to not only spread the gospel, but also to spread their culture by the elimination of the conquered culture; the declaration of a particular church as THE church of England, or the Roman Catholic church, forcing "other" Christians to flee from persecution praying that God was not siding with the Government that is doing the right thing; the burning death of Joan of Arc, who did the right thing, but was later burned because it was the right thing to do; I won't go into the crusades, and I will admit that I have no idea if I'm using semi-colons correctly. There are countless other examples of people "doing the right thing" but ultimately hurting Christianity (or some form thereof). The continued battle of Evolution versus Creation, of Religion versus Science continues to divide our populace and forces them to choose sides. What if, the Creationists were wrong...what if, the way the modern western church has interpreted the Bible have been very literal straight forward logic (and wrong) and has ignored the poetic nature of Jewish literature?

Sorry...just ranting.

As Partyofsix said...if Aiona made that comment within the church (or within a group of Christians), I would be fine too (and perhaps it was made at the Christian Legal Society's annual prayer breakfast - our Lt. Gov had made appearances in the past! I believe it is very possible to be a minister in the marketplace. While I was "school president", I believed I had carried out God's will by embracing and shaping a warm community, loving on the students in ways Jesus might have loved on them (okay, no raising the dead, but I did buy coffee for the late night study groups...that kinda raised the mostly brain-dead). However, one thing I did not do was favor "Christians" over non-Christians, or to press and push my values onto the student body. I did personally invite people to church services, and to Halo Nites at my place where other Christians are present, and at times we did talk about religion, God, etc., but I never crossed the line to use my position to press my Christianity onto the masses.

I understand that Esther's circumstance might be different...she was the right person at the right place at the right time for the right task. However, is every "Christian" poilitical leader the right person at the right place at the right time for the right task? I dunno. I won't question God's wisdom, but I will question man's wisdom and man's authority. Frankly, I don't trust my fellow man, especially when they sincerely are proclaiming to be sold out for God, and have been called to some good sacred deed.... Err, and how many good deeds does it take to pave the road to Hell?

Okay, rant off. Thanks for giving me a place to process, to think, to speak. I appreciate it.

(ooh, i'm opening a can of worms here, i just know it... responses welcome, though =) ).?


Hehe...you are!

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Re: How Important to You is an Elected Official's Faith?

Postby Pua'i » Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:20 pm

late on weighing in, but what the heck…

I think Matthew chapter six, in its entirety, covers this subject really well.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (King James Version)
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
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Re: How Important to You is an Elected Official's Faith?

Postby scrivener » Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:04 am

What a great thread this is. Thanks for bumping it back up, Pua`i. Some of you might know that Pua`i and I have a postcard bet on whether or not Duke will win his party's nomination. I'll offer that bet here, too! Two of my postcards against one of yours says he doesn't get the nomination. Anyone? :)
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