Response to ‘Threat to our religious roots’
Letter to the Editor | Monday, February 22, 2016
I’d like to begin with a bit of full disclosure. I’m an officer of the College Democrats and a veteran of several Democratic political campaigns. In the current election cycle, I am not a Bernie Sanders supporter. In fact, I am quite the opposite: I’m actively working to ensure that Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination for President. With that said, I find these claims about Senator Sanders to be not only misguided and wrong, but fundamentally dangerous to our nation’s guiding principles.
The author writes, “The truth is Sanders doesn’t belong to a religion. While Bernie has often described himself as “culturally Jewish,” he admitted to the Washington Post late last month that he “isn’t actively involved with organized religion.”
On the surface, Senator Sanders appears like many of us. Many of us call ourselves Christians, Catholics, Muslims or Jews, and yet we do not go to organized services on the weekly Sabbath or live our lives strictly in accordance with each faith’s teachings. That’s quite alright. Religion is not meant to be an exclusive club. Religion is something that comes to people in different ways.
Damstra questions Senator Sanders’ own ideas regarding his faith: “In a recent interview with the Washington Post Sanders said, ‘I think everyone believes in God in their own ways. To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.’ What does that even mean?”
For Senator Sanders, that means that his faith is tied into his own ideas; it is a personal journey, just like so many of ours. Rather than living his life in the shadow of being “culturally Jewish,” the Senator has, I’m sure, struggled with his own faith and come to a realization that works for him. As Catholics, we are not asked to judge and speak condescendingly of other faiths. In fact, we are called to address others and their closely held views with respect.
America was founded on principles shared by Abrahamic faiths, sure. But these principles are not exclusively “Judeo-Christian,” as the author writes. They are not even religious by nature. “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” — and not to mention freedom, equality, democracy, justice and so many more — are what make this country great. To claim them strictly for Christianity is not only wrong, but it is in opposition to one of the most important principles we have: a diversity of opinions.
As we enter into the homestretch of the presidential race, let us not question the supposed degree of religiosity of each candidate. Rather, let us question their ideas, their temperament, their judgement, their commitment to our great nation and its guiding principles. Let us appreciate the diversity of faiths not only in our society but in our presidential candidates as well. For those of us who call ourselves Catholic, let us continue to live our lives in the spirit of the Beatitudes and not in the pursuit of a misguided and exclusive club.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.