Oct 15th 2008

The U.S. Elections – Christians only, please!

by Lynn Green

Lynn Green’s life has taken her from her native Ohio to Simmons College in Boston from where she started her career at Little, Brown Publishers continuing onto Time-Life Books in Alexandria, Virginia. She has lived three years in Helsinki, Finland, three years in Southeast Asia, four years in China and presently in Paris where she has lived for 14 years. She continues her writing career in the French capital and is also working on a novel that takes place in 1930s Shanghai and rural China.

Early October, during a visit to Columbus, Ohio, where I grew up, I accompanied my parents to Sunday Mass at their Roman Catholic parish, Holy Spirit Church. I, as a part of the congregation, sitting in the third row just under the priest's nose, listened to him dispense ever so lightly veiled voting directives: "Use your Christian values when you go to the polls…this country is in need of Christian moral leadership…don't vote solely for a one-issue ticket."

Weeks later and an ocean between me from the vantage point of Paris, I am still wondering what he meant: Was it the steadily declining economy that the faithful should ignore in favor of the pro-life, anti-abortion, no-choice angle; or should the faithful forego, just this one time, the anti-abortion platform in favor of new ideas for turning the economy around, boosting employment and lifting folks out of earthly distress (Heaven can wait). One point, however, was clear and that was Christian, Christian, Christian -- the resounding buzz word. What does that make Muslims and Jews?

With "For Sale" signs dotting the Columbus neighborhoods like newly planted trees and discount stores so empty that the few customers can hear the echo of their own footsteps, and when even some pawn shops have gone out of business (no givers, they've already given their last valuables; and no takers because there's no money), well, then you know the state of affairs is truly dismal.

During my autumn stay in the swing state of Ohio, McCain and Palin, had been in and out of the state almost faster than a revolving door can go round. Why they should just buy up one of those houses or two that are on the brink of foreclosure and call it home for the duration of the campaign.

The Republican pair appeared as a duo or solo. She with her Joe six-pack persona; and McCain stepping aside to bask in her light and look on her as his golden key to the doors of the White House. They have certainly invested a lot of time in this battleground state, a once certain bastion of Republican culture. The McCain campaign even decided to suspend campaigning in that other crucial state, Michigan. But, hey, "so goes Ohio, so goes the rest of the nation." As far as presidential politics goes, no Republican presidential candidate has made it to the White House without winning Ohio. So maybe putting all one's eggs in one basket will bear well for McCain's Midwest strategy.

A couple of days after that puzzling sermon, I boarded a small regional commercial flight to return home to Paris via Washington D.C. As the plane lifted me up, up, up and away through the clear blue sky over a kaleidoscope of gold, russet and orange leaves, bearing testament to a typical resplendent Ohio autumn - swing or not, I was still turning over the priest's message in my mind, trying to get to the bottom of it.

The American Catholic Church of my childhood didn't promote a political agenda from the pulpit. And, I think that priest came dangerously close to crossing that line of separation between church and state. It is clear that the principle of separation is

becoming increasingly blurred and indistinct on the U.S. political scene. Politicians thank God and profess their religion - Christians only please! Even at this late date there are still those who believe Obama is a Muslim. He isn't, never has been, but what would be wrong if he was?

Maybe my church is just following the tide and going evangelical. Heaven Help!


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