A Good Question

>> Monday, August 25, 2008

If we are going to care about the faiths of our candidates, not saying we should, shouldn't we ask that they live up to their faith? Plenty of people in this country vote on the basis of religious conviction. When they do this it typically only done on a small subset of issues like abortion or homosexual marriage. It should go without saying though that the faiths the candidates subscribe to encompass significantly more than that. This is why the recent Rick Warren led Saddleback Forum drew such interest. It was the first time in a long time that issues other than strictly abortion or gay marriage were discussed in relation to faith. One question though went unanswered and unasked, "How do you reconcile your Christian faith with your wealth?".

The WaPo online has an Under God Section where matters of faith are blogged. They recently blogged on just this topic. The writer, David Waters, has two questions he wants to put to the candidates respectively,

I'd like to hear McCain's response to this question: "You are a rich man. You and your wife Cindy own seven homes, which you apparently use just for yourselves and your children. A number of years ago, you adopted a child from an orphanage in Bangladesh. How many more children could you save if you sold five or six of your homes and just used one or two for yourself. As a Christian, do you feel a responsibility to do that?"

I'd like to hear Obama's response to this question: "You are a rich man. A few years ago, you signed two book deals worth nearly $2.3 million. You and your wife Michelle made more than $4 million last year and you own a home worth more than $1 million. What have you done with that money to help "the least of these." I don't mean how many checks have you written to charity. Can you give us specific names of people you have helped?"

It gets at the heart of several important issues in this country. Why do we excuse those who profess their faith in the public square yet fail to follow through in private? Is it enough that the wealthy dedicate their lives to public service in compensation for their wealth? Is it right for our leaders to all be wealthy?

I am sure that McCain would be more than happy to cite his service to the country in both the military and in government as his compensation for his wealth. I do not see this as enough, judging by what his Christian faith requires. McCain like many who use the cover of faith to earn votes is not so concerned with the actual tenants of that foaith or living that faith in his everyday life. If he was maybe he would have been able to answer Pastor Warren with stories not from 40 years ago but from the morning of the forum or the previous week.

As for Obama, i think there really is a difference between 4 million and 40 million. Obama is rich and could afford to help many people but i would not require him to give until he is not rich. He has earned the money and deserves to be the primary beneficiary of that effort. He has helped many people working as an organizer on the streets of Chicago and i think he might very well be able to name people he has helped, even after he became "rich".

I think that what a person does with their money does reveal things about who they are and what type of character they have. It is a question that should be asked, not only because we seem to care about candidates faiths, but because such insight would help us pick not only the person with the best policies but the best person in general.


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