Saturday, August 16, 2008

If I Were Rick Warren....

Of course, I am not, and the pastor of Saddleback Community Church has not asked my opinion as to what questions he should ask the respective presidential candidates. However, if I were conducting the interviews tonight of Senators McCain and Obama, with a focus on learning more about their political philosophies and characters with regard to matters of concern to Christians, I would ask the following:

  1. Both Republicans and Democrats believe that a safety net should be available for the economically disadvantaged, but disagree as to whether the public sector or private organizations should bear primary responsibility. How do you view the relative responsibilities of government and private charity? What are the dangers of an overemphasis on one or the other?
  2. President Bush has emphasized the need for faith based initiatives to address societal problems. Will you continue this emphasis? How can government subsidize faith based initiatives and exercise proper oversight of its spending without interfering with the religious perspectives animating those organizations?
  3. In the Bible, John the Baptist famously told Herod that he was wrong to have taken his brother's wife. John lost his head over it. While it is true that someone can have character flaws and still be an effective leader, no one could convincingly argue that character is irrelevant? What kind of virtues do you think are important for leaders? How would you, as a private individual and a Christian, suggest that the church should address questions of character in leaders?
  4. Both candidates have reversed previous positions on a variety of political issues. How can Americans evaluate the truthfulness of claims to have changed positions on important issues? To what extent do candidates have a duty, for the sake of credibility, to explain their rationale for major policy reversals?
  5. Members of both parties are sometimes guilty of using ethics as a political weapon, sometimes based on statements taken out of context or mischaracterizations of opponents' words or deeds. What would your administration do to help ensure that ethical concerns are taken seriously and not used -- unethically -- as a political bludgeon?
  6. What would you say is the role of religion in the public square?
  7. Republicans frequently have a distrust of big government. Democrats distrust big business. Christians, based on the doctrine of original sin, warn about the accumulation of power in any individual entity. In government, there is concern about the balance of power among the branches, as well as the erosion of individual rights. In business, there is concern about CEO accountability to Boards of Directors. How would your administration view these sorts of concerns and problems?

These questions are intended to be asked of both candidates separately, so I have attempted to avoid those that would tend to favor one candidate or another. I wish I had the chance to ask them. It would make for an interesting interview.

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