Sunday, August 23, 2015

Religious Leaders: Speaking Out on US Politics and Public Policy

Editorial: Religious leaders from all faiths should consider taking the opportunity to speak out on a wide range of public policy issues currently being raised and debated by politicians running in the upcoming 2016 Presidential Elections. It could prove enlightening. For example:
  • Immigration - Finding a reasonable solution to this issue. Do we want to build a wall? Send all illegal immigrants home, including their children who were born in the US? Providing a workable plan for many of them to become legal residents... The candidates for President are currently all over the board on this issue which effects millions of Hispanic people already living and working in our country. What would be the most acceptable solutions for the Christian and other religious communities to support?
  • Womens Rights - What is the right position Christians should take with regards to womens rights in the US? The political candidates are currently all over the map on the issues. Do we think candidates ought to be free to publicly disparage or show disrespect to women? Do we want to curtail healthcare services for women? Do we want government to tell a woman she can never get an abortion under any circumstance? Do we think women's pay across the US is not an issue? What is the role of a woman in US society today? Tomorrow? Religious leaders should probably speak out more about women's rights and their role in our society.
  • Environmental Issues - Stewardship of the planet seems to be an issue of prime importance to Christians and other religious believers. The Pope has spoken out forcefully about the environment, but many politicians supported by Big Oil promptly attacked him. What about practices that are leading to destructive Climate Change? Its impact on our weather, food, water, life... Should we encourage drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean and off our coasts, continue widespread fracking for oil and gas... We could use clear guidance from religious leaders on this crucial issue. It now appears our survival depends on it.

Like many others, I generally stop reading an article when it runs past 1 page. So let me just list some of the other major issues politicians are raising and taking a stance on heading into the 2016 Election. What are our religious leaders advising with regards to sound policies the community should support with regards to:

  • Foreign Policy - Sending US troops into wars around the world? Use of drones by the US to kill people in other countries? ...
  • Healthcare - Providing access to healthcare for all Americans, including the poor, the elderly...
  • Voting Rights - Current efforts by many states to curtail voter registration?
  • Gay Rights - Their civil rights with regards to marriage, restricting their access to certain government and businesses and services ...
  • Political Campaign Funding - Allowing unlimited campaign funding by billionaires and major corporations to support their candidates?
  • US Justice & Prison System - Unfair treatment of black citizens by police; the world highest rate of imprisonment of citizens ...
  • Family Values - Sanctity of marriage, adultery run amuck, disrespectful behavior, unchecked greed, immorality in so many forms ...
  • Equal Rights - Corporate welfare vs. welfare for poor individuals and families; Big corporations and billionaires owning 90% of all wealth; excessive pay of bosses vs. workers.

It could help many people to make a better choice in the upcoming election if religious leaders spoke more to some of these major policy issues and the public positions and behavior of the current crop of political candidates. They don't necessarily need to talk about particular political parties, but should focus on public policy issues and the type of characteristics and behavior we ought to look for in political candidates from all parties.

What do you think? Should religious leaders speak out or remain quiet?

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