Genuine faith or cheap religiosity? Often a thin line can separate the two. But what a critical line it is. We hear a lot about “faith” in a presidential race. Clergy surrogates endorse candidates with glowing pronouncements about their religion of choice, trying to convince us that they are indeed people of genuine faith. But faith is a rootedness that is a part of the depth of a person’s life. I have found an important point to be true: that a person’s faith is evident in the works that they do and in the things that they care about. Declarations and pronouncements are simply empty words if you cannot see works of compassion and love evident in their lives.
The evidence is either clear or it is not. When you observe a candidate, do you see a person of prayer, devotion and compassion? Do you see a profession of faith in works and deeds? Do you see a reliance on the God they serve? Do you see a moral compass that informs their ethical choices and quest for justice? Do you sense a life of spirituality? Do you see a past and present life lived with a Divine anchor?
Bishop Steven Charleston wrote these words about faith.
Faith does not float on clouds. It walks in the streets of human reality. It stands in the midst of disaster and tragedy. It sustains all creation. It enters into the painful spaces where love struggles to exist. Faith is a tool. It is meant to be used where it is needed most. Therefore, it works on the most difficult jobs, the ones that are often complex and even dangerous. Faith is the sweat equity of believing. The joy we receive is not the promise of what is to come, but the experience of what is now. We practice what we believe, we share what we have.
Let us pray that our political leaders walk in the streets of human reality with a genuine faith.