Perhaps the cult of personality that has arisen around the current occupant of the Oval Office has begun to waken. One part of dt’s constituency that has seemed to surprise some has been evangelical Christians. Other candidates in the GOP primary for Indiana’s Fifth Congressional District seem to stridently express their devotion to their faith.
One such strident voice is that of Micah Beckwith, who is a pastor at several churches in Carmel, Westfield, Fishers, Kokomo, and Anderson, according to his campaign website.
Mr Beckwith’s website states: “With a deep understanding of American history, Micah is answering the call to take the fight to Washington to defend true CONSTITUTIONAL conservative values ensuring that our children and grandchildren will continue to have a home where freedom and liberty reign. With God’s grace and your support, Micah will outwork every politician in Washington fighting for you and all you hold dear.”
Micah’s “values” are listed, in order:
“1. To love and to honor my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
2. To love and honor my family
3. To love and to honor the US Constitution”
Finally, in the context of news of Mr. Beckwith’s campaign, the candidate writes: “I had the privilege of speaking at LifePointe church in Westfield. I talked about Biblical history and American history and I addressed the faith of our Founding Fathers and God’s call on every believer in America to be engaged in our Constitutional Republic.”
By writing “CONSTITUTIONAL” in upper-case letters does not give Mr. Beckwith’s views on the history of the United States or its Constitution greater credibility.
Among European immigrants who came to North America in the 1600s and 1700s to escape religious persecution were the Puritans in Massachusetts, who promptly discriminated against those whose beliefs were different, such as Quakers. Four Quakers were hanged by Puritans because the Quakers’ beliefs were viewed as heretical.
Martin Luther’s acts of rebellion as a monk gave impetus to what became the Reformation - i.e., the break from the Roman Catholic Church. Premises of Luther’s beliefs included an individual relationship with the Christian deity so as to dispense with the Church as the final intermediary for all things spiritual. The Hundred Years War ensued. As Mick Jagger sang, in “Sympathy for the Devil”: “I watched with glee/while your kings and queens/fought for ten decades for the god they made.”
Perhaps The Framers were disillusioned by religion. Certainly they proscribed affirmation to a deity as part of the oath of office for members of Congress and the judiciary. U.S. Const., Art.VI, cl 3. The oath of office for the President, likewise, contains no avowal to a deity. U.S. Const. Art. II, sec. 1.
Madison described qualifications for House of Representatives: “Under these reasonable limitations, the door of this part of the federal government is open to merit of every description, whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of religious faith.” Federalist, No. 52.
In our pluralistic society there are more religions than that professed by Mr Beckwith. An April, 2018, Pew Research Center survey found that one-third of Americans say they “do not believe in the God of the Bible, but that they do believe there is some other higher power or spiritual force in the universe. A slim majority of Americans (56%) say they believe in God ‘as described in the Bible.’ And one-in-ten do not believe in any higher power or spiritual force.”
My concerns have been voiced by other who are conservative: “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.” -Sen. Barry Goldwater
When I express concern over a candidate’s avowal of religious belief in her or his campaign ads, I am concerned for freedom of religion. Many devout Christians believe in separation of church and State. After all, the First Amendment provides “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;...”
A parent who raises her child to believe there is no god, from one point of view, commits child abuse since the child will be condemned to hell. A report to Department of Child Services (DCS) and initial efforts to remove the child from the parent’s care and custody - Child in Need of Services (ChINS) that can become Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) - follow.
Of course a child raised by loving LGBTQ parents, regardless of those parents’ religious beliefs, would have to be removed, one would surmise. Betsy DeVos probably can place a such a child with a “godly” home..
Is Mr Beckwith a dominionist—one who believes only Christians should hold positions of governmental authority? Remember, Mr Beckwith’s first value is to “love my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” “Love and honor” of the Constitution come in at number 3 on his list.
Who determines what is a “legitimate” or “sincerely held” Christian belief? Must “true believers” also believe in “complete immersion” for baptism or is mere “sprinkling” acceptable? If someone holds contrary beliefs, is that person a heretic?
The CONSTITUTION - to use Mr Beckwith’s spelling - protects everyone’s beliefs about the cosmos and our places in it. Members of other Christian sects, of the Hebrew faith and the Islamic faith, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, Jainists, and even atheists and agnostics are protected in beliefs equally.
Wait, I think I should write EQUALLY.