USA - Progressive And Conservative Politicians Make Claims About What God Wants
Frances Kissling reflects on the rhetoric in American Politics of those claiming that God is speaking to them. She a visiting scholar at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania where she is writing a book on Ethics and Abortion. A Catholic feminist, she was the president of Catholics for Choice for 25 years
I must confess: God has never spoken to me. I don’t think it is because I am not listening or uninterested. It would be quite extraordinary and probably very helpful, but seems to be a bit presumptuous to expect such personal attention from God. In fact, I’m more than a little suspicious of both religious and political folks who tell me God has spoken to them – and are not speaking in metaphors. I think they are either a little crazy – like the prophets of the rapture - or much too impressed with themselves.
Does it ever occur to them that perhaps they are merely hearing their own desires reverberating in their heads? God wants them to be president? Please. I don’t think so. Some seem to think that claiming that God is calling them to the presidency or any other religious or political office shows humility. We are to think it would never occur to them to run because they thought they had something to offer or believed they were qualified to run the country. No, they are unworthy and it is God who asks this of them. I think it is the height of arrogance.
God has already told us what is expected of us – and she would just like us to get down to business and do. She has told us in simple words: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, take care of the sick, don’t kill each other. Many of the people whom God has apparently asked to run for office haven’t begun to do what God has already asked them to do – why would they think she’d bother to tell them to run for political office? More likely she would tell them to run for cover before someone finds out what hypocrites they are.
And while I’m at it, I’m getting just as annoyed at progressive politicians who think they need to tell us what God is thinking about the central policy decisions of the day as I am with those on the right who have claimed God wants them to run for office. Do they really think that mindlessly repeating the mantra that the budget is a moral document will lead us to believe they are religious enough to be acceptable candidates to hold office in America? Do we need to know that the president gets a few daily bible quotes to inform his day from his various spiritual advisors to trust that he will act with moral rectitude and in the common good?
I think, indeed I hope, not. What we need is to know that our political leaders are listening to ordinary people, aware of their struggles and aspirations and deeply committed to alleviating suffering. Now maybe if the Buddha would whisper in their ears, we’d be better off.