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Politics

Guest Column: Political Purity

An oxymoron worth clarifying …

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by WALT INABINET

Last I checked, God is not a registered voter. He has not cast a ballot in any previous South Carolina Democratic or Republican primary or even in the general elections. I can find no media accounts, paid advertising, recorded conversations, or independently corroborated proof He spoke directly to anyone and told them to run for political office.

And while sample ballots are not yet available, one can confidently assume that you won’t be voting for U.S. Priest-in-Chief, S.C. Senate or S.C. House Chaplain, or official County Minister in the June party primaries or November general election.

As a firm believer in God who enjoys complete peace in that relationship, I think He has better things to do than involve Himself in politics or political discourse and has afforded us free will and the power of discernment to choose those we think best suited to lead our local, state, and national governments. Holding public office and political campaigns are secular endeavors and not holy missions.

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Granted, the Constitution affords us freedom “of” religion and not freedom “from” religion, but nowhere is there in our founding documents a caveat that only those who graduate seminary, are properly cloaked in religious piety, or have a particular denominational pedigree be allowed to offer for or to be deemed more suitable for public office. While I hope one prays about whether to seek office or for guidance as to whom would best make a wise and effective elected leader, that governmental leadership ability is not predicated on one’s devoutness.

“Political purity” especially in today’s terms is indeed an oxymoron if not an outright contradiction of terms, but the concept is one worth pursuing and even demanding. You may have noticed here that I never include the titles “Rev.” or “Dr.” before the names of those holding or seeking political office. That is not being disrespectful; it is separating politics and the politicians from non-germane self-achieved titles and/or their senses of spiritual or academic superiority.

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“Politics should never be taken personally…”

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Being a politician is not or at least shouldn’t be a dirty word. A true politician is one who can identify public issues and currently lacking policies, articulate those challenges, propose solutions through negotiations, and even compromise and persuade others to reach a consensus; ultimately enacting strategic remedies for the common good. If any candidate tells you, “I’m not a politician”, run from their running for office; they’re telling you up front they can’t do the job.

Politics should never be taken personally. Voters should consider themselves bosses hiring an applicant who will make their company stronger through an even stronger work ethic and sound decision-making skills. Employers are even disallowed by law from inquiring about the applicant’s religious affiliations. While an innate spiritual belief may speak to one’s ethos and strength of character, it says little about their ultimate ability to lead or govern or execute the tasks at hand.

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As has been the case in all elections in modern history, some politicians will start wearing their religion on their sleeves, suddenly start showing up at various churches and charity events, maybe throw in a bit of scripture or religious symbols in their campaign literature and social media posts, or even start hawking $60 Bibles as part of their political fundraising.

Back during the Civil War, one of Abraham Lincoln’s supporters opined that he was grateful that God was on the North’s side. To which the President replied, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

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“Being religious should not be a major part of any political litmus test.”

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Which is to say while there is every reason to include your religious teachings as part of your decision making, we do not always know God’s will save that He does not impose Himself on the body politic. Free will, discernment, and rational thought are afforded you to choose those who will best be true, responsive, and responsible elected leaders.

The Lord provides for the smallest sparrow, but He doesn’t throw the worms into the nest. We, and not God, decide who runs and who we should vote for. That is by greater design the quintessential separation of church and state.

What strikes me as near blasphemy are those who flout religion as a useful political prop or – worse still – those who do not exercise the discernment granted them by their Creator to support and vote for the best candidate for the job. Being religious should not be a major part of any political litmus test.

God is not a registered South Carolina voter. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Walt Inabinet is a retired award-winning television, radio, and newspaper journalist who dedicates his time now as a Bamberg County public watchdog and citizen journalist. He is, in his own words, “a retired has-been nobody journalist living in the outskirts of civilization with a penchant for publicly pissing off -by name- government officials and news outlets.”

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