DISCUSSION: How Much Should a Candidate’s Religion Matter?

DISCUSSION: How Much Should a Candidate’s Religion Matter? July 14, 2023

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is running for president.  A Republican known for his opposition to woke capitalism, Ramaswamy is young (37), pro-life, and consistently conservative.  He is a very bright guy, with many creative ideas, such as raising the voting age to 25 unless 18-24 year olds enlist in the military, work as first responders, or pass a civics test.  He might make a good president.

He is also a Hindu.  Does that matter?

According to a New York Times article, Ramaswamy is courting evangelical support.  He doesn’t play down his Hinduism but says that he shares the fundamental values of Christian voters.

Here are the 10 core truths that he is running on:

1. God is real.

2. There are two genders.

3. Human flourishing requires fossil fuels.

4. Reverse racism is racism.

5. An open border is no border.

6. Parents determine the education of their children.

7. The nuclear family is the greatest form of governance known to mankind.

8. Capitalism lifts people up from poverty.

9. There are three branches of the U.S. government, not four.

10. The U.S. constitution is the strongest guarantor of freedoms in history.

Says the Times story:

Although he is not a Christian, Mr. Ramaswamy pointed out, he speaks openly about why belief in God matters and why rising secularism in America is bad for the country, and about values like marital fidelity, duty, religious liberty and self-sacrifice. . . .

At campaign stops, Mr. Ramaswamy refers to Bible stories, including the crucifixion of Jesus, and quotes Thomas Aquinas. He frequently mentions his experience attending a “Christian school” in Cincinnati (St. Xavier High School, a Catholic school). And he contrasts “religions like ours,” which have stood the test of time, with the competing worldviews of “wokeism, climatism, transgenderism, gender ideology, Covidism,” as he put it to an audience in New Hampshire.

The article makes the point that although Christians used to favor putting a fellow Christian into office, this is no longer the case, necessarily, thanks to the precedent of Donald Trump:

If Mr. Ramaswamy comes to have a chance with evangelical primary voters in the crowded Republican field, it will be thanks in part to forces beyond his campaign. Many conservative voters for whom a shared faith might have once been a litmus test now say they are looking not for a “pastor-in-chief” but for someone who shares their political and cultural goals, and who will fight on their behalf. . . .

Some evangelical observers say it was former President Donald J. Trump who opened up a new lane for Republican candidates who were not necessarily people that voters would expect to sit next to in church on Sunday morning. Many evangelical voters embraced the crude, thrice-married casino magnate not because he was one of them but because they believed he would fight in the public square on their behalf.

So what do you think about this?  Under the Lutheran doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, which distinguishes God’s spiritual kingdom from His earthly kingdom (which is still under God’s moral law), could you vote for  Ramaswamy?

Or do you look for a candidate who is specifically Christian?  If so, does it matter to you what kind of Christian (evangelical, Catholic, mainline Protestant)?  Is the candidate’s moral character, if not religious beliefs as such, a consideration?  Or is the definitive question whether or not the candidate will support your causes and your interests, regardless of where he or she stands religiously or morally?




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