Andrew Cotto looks for the good in these men of Politics and God.
I’m not a religious person (on paper). My parents, both Italian-Americans and both burdened by the religious dogma of their upbringings, decided not raise their children in the Catholic Church. Unlike many of my friends growing up outside New York City in the 70s, I did not attend Catholic school, nor CCD on Wednesday, or CYO sports on Saturday, and not even church on Sunday or holidays. Formal religion was not part of my life.
But in an informal way, I was taught by my parents and my community, both religious and secular, the benevolent beliefs of the church: Love is conquering force; compassion and mercy and kindness apply to everyone, even those of different beliefs, appearances, and backgrounds; honesty is essential. Goodness as related to God informed our lives. So, while I’m still not a religious person on paper, I’ve had a longstanding appreciation for many of the positive doctrines promoted through religion. And this is why I find the Republican lineup for President so troubling: All three major contenders profess a passion for the teachings of Jesus Christ, yet all three blatantly behave in ways that belie those teachings.
Rick Santorum lacks compassion. A devout Roman Catholic, Santorum seems preternaturally incapable of appreciating any purview other than the one he’s chosen. If you’re not with him, you’re against him. And if you’re against him, you’re wrong on everything from freedom of religion to freedom of choice to freedom of sexual orientation. You also know nothing about economics, the environment, or the pathos of poor minorities—even if you’re an economist, a scientist, or someone from the underclass.
Mitt Romney has trouble with the truth. This man of Mormon faith has persistent problems with honesty. My grandmother would have accused Romney of “Talking out of his hat.” Whether it’s off the cuff or in pre-scripted manner, Romney drops whoppers on his personal past (in an attempt to seem less privileged), his professional accomplishments (his job creation numbers fluctuate wildly), on his political policies (where he changes positions more than a porn star), and on his opponents (where he has no problem painting blatantly false narratives). No wonder he doesn’t do interviews.
Newt Gingrich is just plain mean. This twice-divorced, scandal-plagued contemporary Christian has been born again, but as what? He seems like the same guy that was run out of his role as Speaker of the House for ethics violations, general arrogance, and stunning hypocrisy. The born-again Newt should be humbled, smarter and seeking redemption. Instead, he carpet bombs America, from the poor to the president and everyone in between (with the notable exception of his billionaire benefactor, his third wife, and his credit agent at Tiffany’s) with a pompous contempt that seems more akin to the villains of Dickens (or Roald Dahl) than the protagonist of the good book.
As said, I’m not a religious person (on paper). But I know good. I know that compassion and kindness and honesty are not just tenants of the church but of a decent society as well. These, among others, are the qualities that define humanity. And while politics ain’t beanbag, we should hold our candidates of all parties—regardless of our personal beliefs—to a certain standard of goodness, especially those candidates promoting religion as a major part of their platform.
I wonder if God would approve this message?