Much of the focus on our nation’s presidential hopefuls and community leaders this election cycle has been on superficial characteristics such as age, gender and race. None of those simple descriptors, however, begins to address the extraordinary personal strengths necessary to lead our country and communities through the challenges of our day.
Our nation’s challenges are great — a seemingly unendable war, an economic crisis that continues to grow, immigration strategies that have neither secured our borders nor found ways to meet our community needs, an environmental crisis that threatens the future of life on our planet, and a health care system that is neither affordable nor sustainable. The list goes on. But how can we pick someone to lead us in meeting those challenges when we know so little about how the candidates will make fundamental moral decisions?
Many of us rely on our faith for hope when personal and community challenges seem otherwise overwhelming. But our faith can also be a foundation and guidepost for the decisions we make at the polls. And that realization is at the heart of the growing Progressive Christian movement.
‘Voting Justice, Voting Hope’
On April 11-13, Minnesota is hosting a national gathering on faith and politics, sponsored by the Plymouth Center for Progressive Christian Faith. Tough questions — such as, “How does our faith guide what our national policy should be on interrogation and torture?” — will be discussed with national leaders, theologians, policy experts, young leaders and lay citizens. The gathering, called “Voting Justice, Voting Hope,” will feed minds and strengthen the connection between our faiths and the future of our nation.
Our country is an example of the strength that comes from democratic processes that are in alignment with spiritual faith. The success of our democracy ultimately relies on our selection of strong leaders who can maintain their moral compass through the complex maize of personal, national and international crises and challenges.
There have been many powerful countries through the ages that fell into ruin as their governments, leaders and people lost track of the beliefs and just processes that allowed them to initially succeed. I am hopeful that as Americans we have the fortitude to ask the tough questions of ourselves and our candidates — and that we have the strength to support a socially just culture that is driven less by our personal needs and more by the common good of our neighbors.
Lewis P. Zeidner is a founding director of the Plymouth Center for Progressive Christian Faith and an organizer of “Voting Justice, Voting Hope,” which will take place April 11-13 in Minneapolis. Registration and information is available at the Plymouth Center website.