Daniels Reflects on Intersection of Faith and Politics
Governor Daniels addresses the Christian Theological Seminary conference on "faith in action." (WIBC.com photo: Eric Berman)
Governor Daniels says the Biblical injunctions to seek common ground and forgive one's enemies make a good starting point for successful governance as well.
Daniels told a Christian Theological Seminary "faith in action" conference he's sought to follow both the Christian calling to live one's faith and a governor's responsibility to serve citizens of all faiths. He says he's proud of never mounting a personal attack in campaigning for the Republican nomination in 2004, nor in the general election in 2004 and 2008, and says he's always instructed staffers to treat opponents with respect, regardless of what the other side does.
Daniels says he regrets a few stumbles in trying to meet that standard himself early in his term. The governor clashed often with South Bend Democrat Patrick Bauer, at one point labeling the then-House Minority Leader a "political hack" after a Democratic walkout shelved dozens of bills on Daniels' agenda. But the governor says he believes he's done better at biting his tongue since those first couple of years.
Daniels notes the apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians advised Christians to "not let the sun go down on your wrath." "It was probably a good side effect of creating Daylight Saving Time that I got an extra hour for the sun to go down on my wrath," Daniels quips.
But Daniels says turning the other cheek is a policy officeholders would do well to follow if they want to accomplish their goals. He says people can't unite on every issue, but says politicians can avoid causing division -- he says he's purposely steered clear of the terms "liberal" and "conservative," and even the names of the two parties, throughout his administration.
Daniels says much of what people view as the ugliness of politics comes from officeholders placing politics rather than faith at the center of their lives. He says that's what turns disagreements into personal indictments. But the governor argues there's an opposite pitfall in
proclaiming one's own compassion by virtue of spending other people's tax dollars.