I’m a preacher’s kid (that is “PK” for short). I was raised in church, or it seemed that way. We were taught that we were part of the one “true” church. But we were also raised to believe in loving one another, treating others with respect, working hard and following the adage that “to whom much is given, much is expected”. God was the center of the family.
My family history is replete with relatives who were part of minority Christian religions. My Mayflower ancestors , Thomas Rogers, John and Francis Cooke were Separatists who moved to the Leiden, Netherlands because of religious persecution in England, before sailing to a better life in Plymouth. More recent ancestors participated in the Seventh Day Baptist Church, the Free Will Baptist Church, and the Methodist Episcopal Church. I was always mindful of the ways in which my beliefs compared, and contrasted, with those of more vocal participants in public life.
My grandparents were “God-fearing” people, active in their religion. Unique for their time, they believed, as part of their faith, in equality of the sexes and equality of people of different races. With the benefit of a rich religious heritage I have been privileged throughout my life to interact with people representing a wide variety of religious and moral perspectives. Many of my closest friends are not Christian. I have been privileged to see glimpses of the world through their eyes. I do not find their faith or their morality to be in any way deficient.
As an observer in the political process, I ask myself, what is the role of faith in public life? How do we remain true to our beliefs, whatever they are, while also remaining true to the other teachings I remember from childhood about respect for others? How do we work for a better world when our own understandings of how to make such a world are so limited. How do we appropriately show respect for the beliefs of others while remaining faithful to our own world views and beliefs. As I struggled with these issues, it occurred to me that there were two books in my collection I could turn to for wisdom. They are Faith and Politics, by former U.S. Senator John Danforth, and The Mighty and the Almighty” by former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. I hope that my exploration of these books will be of interest to our followers.