Should religion play a part in our upcoming federal election?

If people have religious sensibilities their faith will play a role in the views they adopt and these views will affect their political attitudes. For religious individuals, be they candidates or voters, religion does play a part in any election. It's a matter of fact rather than choice.

What about more public circumstances? Should religious leaders try to influence the political choices of their congregations? Should a religious community organize itself to form pressure groups and lobby political candidates on social issues? Why not? Should big business play a part in the elections? Should educators, health care professionals and environmentalists play a part in our political discourse? Why not? It's in the nature of our political system for many interests to state their preferences and lobby for what they think is appropriate. Should the religious views of candidates be in the public domain? Why not? The more we know about a candidate the more informed we are about our choices.

The problem with democracy is that it is not for the lazy. Issues are complicated and you have to do your homework. So many different perspectives and agendas compete for our attention that the political process at election time often sounds like a coffee break on the tower of Babel. What we need are voices of clarity and hearts of noble vision. Whether this comes from our religious communities, scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs, parents or teachers is not the main issue. Maturity of discussion and honesty in debate are most needed. These qualities exist in all walks of life, among those who profess a religious faith and among those who do not. The bottom line is the quality of the human heart.

Ajahn Viradhammo

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