The question was met with silence and boos. A smile came across her face. She then replied by saying “thank you for that question” and preceded to answer. If you follow politics, or happened to catch the Republican Primary Debate, then you know that this was in response to a question asked of Michele Bachmann. The question had to do with her earlier statements that she “submitted” to her husband in regards to becoming a tax lawyer. The questioner wanted to know as president would she submit to her husband in areas of national interest.
These religious questions face other candidates as well. Questions regarding how they view the creation of the world. Questions regarding evolution. Questions regarding how specific teachings of Scripture affect their personal and political choices.
Many writers have taken umbrage at this line of questioning. They are upset that Bachmann would be asked about submission. Some have charged the questioners with being sexist. They are upset that conservative candidates have to deal with religious questions. They view this as a media bias.*
However, I’m not one of these writers. In fact I am the opposite. I think these are legitimate questions that should be asked candidates. Let me tell you why.
Religions Affects Your Whole Life
First, the idea that religion** is private is a common assumption in our world. As the old saying goes you don’t talk about politics and religion. However, if you take seriously your religion, then it should have an impact on your life. When one reads the Bible we recognize that Jesus is not asking us to add a little religion to our lives. Rather, Jesus is demanding absolute allegiance and dedication to Him and His teaching. This allegiance is seen in all of our lives. Thus, it by extension affects our political understandings. Therefore, it is fair that we ask candidates how they apply certain teachings from Scripture.
We need to know what they mean by Christian
Second, the candidates are identifying themselves as Christians in order to receive votes from that community. If you are going to identify yourself as a Christian and make that a centerpiece to your campaign, then you are fair game to explain what that means. You need to explain how you understand certain teaches of Scripture and how it would affect your governance. You can’t claim that my faith impacts my politics and then be upset when someone asks the basic question “how?”
Ask ALL the candidates these questions
I want to know how my candidates religion affects them for good or bad. I want to know how Mormonism affects Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. I want to know how Bachmann understands the “submission” passages. I want to know how Rick Perry understands Genesis 1. I also want to know how Barack Obama’s faith influences him. I want him to be asked tough questions concerning his religious heritage and how/if that affects his public policy.
The only caveat that I would have is that I would hope that they would give the candidates adequate time to give an answer. Matters of theology are not best understood in soundbites.***
So I ask that the media ask ALL candidates about their faith and then give them proper time to really answer the question. Better yet I would like to see the candidate preempt the questions and go ahead and deal with the questions they know they will face in an honest way!
*This could very well be the case. There could be an agenda behind the question, but that is not the scope of this article.
**I’m using this word to refer to a system of faith and in its most positive and historical sense.
***In actuality nothing is really best understood in soundbites, which is why I hate the 2 minute debate stuff!