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Good Citizenship

Mixing religion and politics can mean many things. It could mean that one advocates a theocratic state. I certainly do not. Such a merger of religion and politics is as far removed from my position as its opposite, namely, a political system like communism which represses religious thought and expression.

I firmly believe it is a religious duty to be a good citizen. It is one's duty as a good citizen to participate in politics, but I can be true neither to my country nor to my God if I separate my religious convictions from my political views. If l am to be whole, one with myself and with God, I must infuse my life as a political being with beliefs I learned from the Divine Being. This is not radical, fundamentalist Christian theory. It is the basic belief which first drove the Pilgrims to our shores and later inspired the Founding Fathers to proclaim our independence from Britain "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence." It is the notion which infused the antislavery movement of the 19th century, and in which the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., took his message of racial harmony.

Why should we not permit moral values to influence our thinking about important contemporary issues? To say that spiritual values or morality are at the heart of our society is not to establish a state religion. Far from it. It is only to say with the Constitution that we guarantee the fundamental right of free exercise for all religions throughout our society...

My position-and I believe it is the position of the majority of Americans today, just as it has been for 200 years-is that it is not only legitimate to advocate basic religious values in the political arena, but it is absolutely essential for the health of our republic that believers participate in the political debate of our days.

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