Response to Prayer and Politics, By C. Nikole Saulsberry

Posted on September 24th, 2010 | Filed under Faith and Politics, InterViews

Response to "When is it okay to mix prayer and politics?"

It’s a well known fact that in polite conversations you do not talk about faith or politics. The two are such heated, deeply-seated beliefs that when crossed can cause confrontation amongst the closest of friends and family. With such social norms, one would expect to find a society whose politicians shy away from, or even ignore faith. Instead we have faith charged politics—Politics so powerful they appear as if to invoke the blessing, power and even wrath of God. In the 234 years America has been a nation, it has yet to have a Commander in Chief who was not a self-proclaimed man of faith.

I would be lying if I said that my faith did not play a role in my political persuasions, in fact in many cases it is hard for me to distinguish which belief came first. Thus, it stands to reason that politicians with deeply held faith values would find it hard to distinguish between the two as well. The question really is; are they expected to? At what point does freedom of religion mean politicians have to check their faith practices (which might have very well been their motivation for social change) at the door?

There are serious ramifications to utilizing prayer in politics. It makes many people uncomfortable while simultaneously comforting others (just like proselytizing both makes sense and sounds outrageous). My argument is not that faith and politics are an inherently bad combination, but rather that this combination is often misunderstood. Yes, politicians praying can be a PR stunt, but what if it really is genuine prayer? If someone believes in a higher power that has the ability to intercede on the behalf of others, for good, how can I in good conscience want to suppress that?

I would rather have fervent prayer for well being than empty rhetoric.

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