Politics and Religion

Don Wierenga 2004

When people asked who I was going to vote for I said I really didn't know and I didn't, right up to the moment that I entered the voting booth and darkened the bubble for John Kerry.

I contended then and feel even more strongly now that it will not make a great difference in my lifetime. So why the vote for Kerry? My grand kids.

I saw in John Kerry a glimmer of hope that he somehow would be able to plant the seeds throughout the world community that would lead us away from war as a solution and turn our attention to a better understanding and acceptance of world suffering . . . and world religions.

I found myself on the liberal side of most issues: abortion, same sex marriage stem cell research . . Among others. Why was I still drawn to George Bush?

Maybe it was the nature of the campaign, but I just couldn't believe that Kerry had the solution to every problem or that Bush was responsible for them. It was the old hook of religion that still had its’ hold. Surely, the beliefs that my parents and siblings held couldn't all be wrong either.

I heard Kerry trying to counter the presidents claim on the religious right by appealing to Catholics and in general molding his image to attract more voters. Bush, of course, did the same thing.

Justification came when exit polls showed that moral issues turned the tide for president Bush. My evangelical, born again family would be delighted and I suppose I should have been as well. However, the more I thought about the significance of this issue deciding something as important to our nation and to the world, the more I understood how wrong my Christian belief had been . . . and reinforced and cleared the way to look at religion from a very radical point of view . . . similar, I hope, to that of Jesus.

Religion, in America and throughout the world, the great divider, was sought and coveted by both parties. How could this be? Most people apparently thought that Bush had the best chance of healing a fragmented world by following his vision of peace with his version of religion.

This past week as I listened to a news report of the Iraq battle the reporter quoted a U.S. Marine officer taunting the insurgents ‘to come out and play.’ She added, dryly, so that we could kill them.

Professor Hans Kung has said: “Until there is peace between religions, there can be no peace in the world.” To begin, there needs to be peace within my religion. What if George Bush or John Kerry had said we really don't know the will of God but we do know about he road Jesus would have taken . . . it would not be war . . And maybe there was a place in heaven for those with a different religion. . . Jesus said so. Or just mentioned Sudan and other civil rights violations as their number one priority . . . they would have had my vote in a heartbeat.