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Real Answers™
dt23
Copyright: ©2008 Debbie Thurman
620 words

CAN GOVERNMENT HEAL OUR SOULS?

By: Debbie Thurman

Have you noticed how a certain political party seems to be promising American citizens (i.e., voters) lately that its platform and its candidates are somehow ordained to provide us with spiritual succor? This party adopted a most curious platform statement at its convention: “We will provide immediate relief to working people who have lost their jobs, families who have lost their homes and people who have lost their way” (emphasis mine).

This declaration appears to have segued from another declaration made by the wife of the aforementioned party’s presidential nominee earlier this year: “We have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation.” In a later speech, she echoed that sentiment: “We are dealing with a basic hole in our soul of the nation -- we are lost.”

While many would tend to agree with those statements, the assumption that any political party or government office holder can simultaneously assume the role of spiritual leader is tenuous, at best, and unconstitutional, at worst. In truth, both parties have sought a claim to this mantle.

While various government leaders in our history have called us as a nation to prayer during tumultuous times or to place the needs of the less fortunate ahead of our own, none has gone so far as to set himself up as a spiritual deliverer who can take us out of our presumed captivity into some promised land. Have some privately seen themselves in that role? Perhaps.

There was Reagan’s “shining city on a hill,” of course. America has always been known as a beacon of hope to the world’s “tired … poor … huddled masses.” And JFK inspired a generation to Peace Corps service. But espousing freedom and service to others is a far cry from promising to “fix” their souls. That’s a job for the God in whom we trust. And presuming we have not yet kicked him out of our nation, we ought to give him his way with her people.

If God has a plan for this nation and her people -- even through this very election we are soon facing -- we can do nothing more honorable than to pray for it to unfold as we cast our votes. We can do far less, of course. It may well be that our souls are going to become a lot more broken before they are ever fixed.

We are facing national crises that threaten to break us physically, emotionally and spiritually, if they have not already done so. But we have been in tough places before. Whether by our faith in God or our ability to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, we have always persevered through the downturns, the wars and the personal losses.

In some quarters, we see America’s pastors being encouraged to stand in their pulpits and defiantly fling open the door that separates church and state by endorsing the candidate of their choice or his party’s platform as the one more favored of God to lead us through the tough days ahead. Yet, it is God’s word -- his pronouncement of how to fix our souls -- that they and all who believe ought to be reminding us of.

We are to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). If a leader elected to serve in any office or institution in this country seeks to raise us to our “better angels” by looking upward, I say God bless him or her. If that leader or any other aspiring to office believes he has a mandate to serve as a spiritual guide instead of being entrusted with a civic duty, he ought to think again.

Debbie Thurman is an award-winning commentator and author who writes from Monroe, Va. Her e-mail address is debbie@debbiethurman.com.

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; amyfoundtn@aol.com

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