South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley loves her parents. She’s proud of how they raised her and what she’s become thanks to them and she believes that even though she converted to Christianity that her Sikh parents aren’t, as some suggest, going to hell. Speaking on National Public Radio (NPR) about Mitt Romney, she said “I don’t think we should focus on what church a person walks into…I think we need to on what they do when they walk out of church.”
Now I have a double standard. I think it’s just fine for someone with socially liberal views to be accepting of a variety of behavior which she doesn’t personally practice or support. It’s actually rather normal for straight people to have no problem with homosexuality even if they’re not interested in it themselves, (and vice-versa!) It’s quite common for women who have no interest in ever having an abortion to support a woman’s choice to decide when to have a family. You don’t have to share a view to accept it. I have a double standard, because I submit that it’s just fine to have these views regardless of your own behavior, but it’s not acceptable when your view states quite clearly, denying what you’re taught in Sunday school is wrong and will result eternal punishment by the almighty. It’s not OK to preach, as many of our conservative religious and political leaders do, about family values and attack others for their perceived lack of morality while sleeping around with same-sex drug using prostitutes.
Governor Haley’s cafeteria religion, choosing a little of this and a little of that from the menu of faith, creates an all too convenient world-view, which, while hopefully kind and accepting, is impossible when it comes to predicting what her beliefs are. She’s Methodist and that’s OK, but her parents are Siks and that’s just fine too? Apparently the part in her Methodist faith which says that the only way to heaven is through Jesus applies to mean people and political opponents, not her parents.
I have a double standard because those who make strong claims are obligated to live up to them. I might agree with Governor Haley’s words if someone else had said them. Coming from a self-identified person of faith, I am not sure what to think. Religion plays such an important role in U.S. politics because many actually imagine they can know a candidate by which church she steps into. A few weeks ago, Mitt Romney was questioned about whether he believes inter-racial marriage is a sin. Mormonism has accepted inter-racial marriage for a few decades now, so his snippy “no” was no stretch, but Evangelicals and agnostics alike will wonder this election year how much of a person’s heart we can know based on what they claim their religion to be.
What kind of God do Romney and Haley believe in? A God who loves each of its creations, regardless of what they do, or one who demands certain standards and will punish those who do not live up to these expectations? For if it doesn’t really matter which church you go to, but only what you do once you leave, then why would it matter if our politicians are Christian, Mormon, Muslim, or Jewish? How would it make any difference if they were theist, deist, agnostic, or atheist? Shouldn’t we be able to judge them by their actions and not by their proclamations.