Last week, America re-elected Barack Obama to serve a second term in office. Personally, I’m glad that we did. and it probably has more to do with my state of being than anything else, but it was refreshing to see the religious figures steer away from overtly supporting one candidate over the other. In 2008, and in 2004, I kept wanting to jump up and scream “SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!” every time a priest would mention that in this given election season, it was important to vote for Bush and/or the Republican Party because they best represent the goals of those who belong to the faith. This time around it probably had more to do with the fact that I happen to reside in one of the most liberal parts of the country, since I’m aware that elsewhere there were issues with priests coming out and saying they could not in good faith support Obama. The overarching message here seemed to be to vote for whoever we thought would do the country the most good given their track record, and that’s about as ambivalent as the Catholic Church can get.
In conversations with people about Romney; though, and his stances that claimed to be derived from his Mormon faith, brought up some issues that I’ve had troubles dealing with in the past. My split from the Catholic faith coincided with my disillusionment with the institution as a whole, and fundamental disagreements with the Church’s stance on topics that I consider important, like abortion. It didn’t help that in previous election years, I was already dissatisfied with the Church and I was further disappointed that leaders in that community would be using their power to preach for a particular candidate. Would I have felt as strongly about it if they’d been supporting the candidate I favored? Yes.
Too many wars have been fought (and continue to be fought) in the name of religion. It’s not the place of a religion to interfere with politics. Faith on an individual level can be and oftentimes is wonderful, and part of that has to do with the sense that you are included in something that is greater than yourself. The problem with belonging to a group as an individual is that while you are acting as a representative of your group to the world, the rest of the world is watching the entity and making specific assumptions about you. Then it becomes altogether way too easy for the rest of the world to ostracize you for what they believe to be true about members of your group, regardless of whether it actually applies to you.