Faith and politics is about as old as the U.S. itself.
Time and again, individuals seeking office will campaign on issues ranging from taxes and education to free markets and welfare. Yet, no one issue gets more attention from voters
than a candidate’s personal faith.
One man seeking to share his faith with potential voters is Newt Gingrich. As a potential contender for 2012, Gingrich is out to share with voters that he’s not only capable of being a statesman, but a believer in a higher power.
For many skeptics however, it’s hard to take Gingrich at his word. He certainly wouldn’t be the first politician voters viewed as untrustworthy. In fact, most people came to see Gingrich as a hypocrite when he later admitted he was in an extramarital relationship while condemning Bill Clinton for his affair in the 1990’s. And while there are many who would celebrate a man’s expression of faith, there are many more who question whether Gingrich’s conversion was just a way of trying to win over new voters.
But over the past several years, the former Speaker of the House says he’s had a deep exploration into his own faith and religion. As a result, he has a deeper appreciation not only for God, but the spiritual welfare of other Americans across the country. Speaking before the National Catholic Prayer breakfast in April, Gingrich shared his views on faith and how his latest spiritual journey led him to become a member of the Catholic Church. Not only was his conversion to the Catholic faith outlined in his speech, but also his overall concern that more and more Americans are turning away from religion and embracing secularism — an issue Gingrich says he’s deeply concerned about. He’s also worked on a couple of projects in relation to his faith, including a film that examines Pope John Paul II’s trip to Poland. All are indicators of a genuine move toward a religious path. So perhaps this is a man who, through deeper soul searching and prayer, is a new man looking to move forward in his life.
For his sake, I hope Gingrich is telling the truth. His hopes for the presidency hinge on whether or not people in the faith community see him as a man of God. People get tired of having so-called men of God appear before them in churches and forums to talk about how good God is, when most of their policies in office don’t show one shred of the biblically informed decisions. Let’s hope Gingrich is the real deal this time and not just a good poll reader. There’s too much on the line for him politically and otherwise.