Gandhi, Religion, and U.S. Politics

As I was doing some research for a project the other day, I came across this quote from M. K. Gandhi’s autobiography:

“To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to Truth has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.”

While Gandhi and I come from different spiritual perspectives, I believe he made a profound statement. While religion has to do with the relationship between God and man, it also has to do with how men treat each other. And there are few greater fields where men interact than in the field of politics.

Gandhi’s statement caused me to think about several things, yet it also brought me back to our form of government. Many believe that we in the U.S. have a separation of Church and State. I believe this phrase gives us a false view of what we really have. Instead of a separation of Church and State, we have a disestablished relationship between Church and State. While there is no established church as England has, the moral guidance our religious tradition provides us can never be separated from the operation of our government. Our founders understood this. John Adams wrote:

“[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.”

Just like Gandhi, John Adams and our founders understood that our religious tradition is not something that can be relegated to just one day  of the week. Instead, it should be a guide that influences the actions of men and women daily….both in and outside the halls of governance.

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