In a Meridian column a few weeks ago, I suggested that Harry Reid and Glenn Beck, though politically opposites, had commonality in the gospel and might someday even be buddies. But until then, while riding different vehicles to their desired earthly goals, one might find he has been on the wrong bus.
Some readers wrote that it is possible both could be riding wrong buses. And that’s correct.
Politics is the process by which we organize ourselves as a society. As we involve ourselves in this process, we select organizations to support based on the principles they espouse … and practice. In other words, organizations are vehicles. But before we get on a bus, we should ask the bus driver a few questions.
Regarding topics related to the gospel, here are the questions I would use to ferret out governing principles of political parties or causes. You may find a few of them useful.
- Do you believe that wealth exists in and of itself, or must it be created? What is the proper role of government regarding this wealth?
- Does government create wealth?
- Do people have the right to food, clothing, housing and medical care? Is it a right to earn or a right to receive?
- Do people have the right to compete for a job or the right to be given one?
- We all agree that the incapable among us must be supported. Where do you draw the line between the legitimately incapable and the willingly idle?
- Should the idle eat the bread of the laborer?
- If the government receives insufficient tax revenues, do you support or oppose borrowing from other countries to pay for our citizens’ welfare benefits?
- If this debt cannot be repaid by the present generation, does it violate a correct principle if the consequences of our inaction are left to future generations? Is it fair to force our great-grandchildren to pay for food members of our generation ate?
- Which is the better way to solve the federal government’s deficit problem – raise taxes or cut spending?
Role of Government
- Do you believe that the best government is the government that governs least or governs most?
- Do you believe that people should be protected from the consequences of their actions, or assisted in bearing the burdens of those consequences?
- What principles does your organization feel government should follow to foster personal responsibility, respect agency and fulfill human potential?
- Do you believe the federal government is too big, too small, or about the right size?
- Does government have the right to …
… regulate what we can eat?
… regulate what we can say?
… determine what organizations may and may not participate in political campaigns?
- Do you believe there should be a limit on how much money a person can make?
- If a person makes more than required for his needs, what if any is the role of government regarding the rest?
America and the Constitution
- Do you believe that America is an exceptional nation or is it more or less just like other nations?
- Are there enduring principles that apply to politics and human behavior, or do principles change depending upon circumstances?
- Do you believe in a firm Constitution as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, or a living Constitution open to interpretation as society advances and becomes more complex?
- Should the Supreme Court take into account how courts in other countries interpret laws as it judges our laws?
- If a president of the US cannot get through Congress a program that he feels is vital, should he try to accomplish it by issuing executive orders?
- If it came down to it, what would you advise an elected official to do – be loyal to his party’s goals or defend the concept of separation of powers?
- Does America do more to promote peace or threaten peace?
- Do our rights and freedoms come from our Creator or from government?
- Are there any organizations that should not be allowed a voice in the public square?
- If a religion supports or opposes a candidate for public office, should its tax-exempt status be revoked?
- Does freedom of religion mean the freedom to worship as one will within a church, synagogue or mosque, or does it extend to broader activities outside houses of worship?
- Where does freedom of speech end and hate speech begin?
- Is every person either a victim or an oppressor?
Beliefs and Society
- Do you believe in God?
- Do you believe in protecting the sanctity of life, including the unborn?
- Do you believe marriage was created by God or created by man?
- Are love and approval the same or different?
- Is it possible to disapprove of a behavior, but still love the person?
- If someone disapproves of homosexual behavior, does that make him hateful?
- Is tolerance by itself a correct principle?
- Do you believe the family is the basic building block of civilization?
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When you get answers to the above questions, you’ll know where, and among whom, you will feel comfortable.
A Metaphor Extended
Of all the emails I received about the Harry and Glenn column, this one from an astute observer in Michigan was my favorite:
When we get on the “gospel” bus, we are both passenger and driver. The bus itself is what carries us to our ultimate goal, powered by the most efficient and perfect engine in the universe—the Atonement. But we decide where we are going to go, how fast we get there, and how firmly we put the “pedal to the metal”. We all take detours, and it can be a bumpy ride. But this is a “smart bus” with a Gospel Positioning System that invariably points us back to our destination. Our refueling stations are beautiful, and our bus doesn’t go very far if we don’t visit them and refuel often enough. And if we can see clearly, we will notice the cheering crowds on either side of our road, smiling and waving as we head toward the Eternal City. And the best thing is that we can invite others along for the ride!
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Gary Lawrence welcomes comments at [email protected].