The other day I got an invitation on Facebook from a friend. The invitation was to join an online poll.
The poll was put out by ABC News and the question was “What role should the personal faith of a President play in his/her decision-making?”
The choices in the poll were as follows.
- Not sure
- It should not play any role
- It should play a balanced role with other considerations
- It should play a strong role
I didn’t join the poll, but it did get me thinking about the question. And that made me realize that the entire poll was wrong. No matter what you believe about God, religion, or life, there is no right answer to the question asked. It’s a trick question.
Your personal faith is your world view. It is how you believe the world works, and what you believe your place in it is. It is what you use to decide right from wrong, and it is what you use as a measurement and guideline for everything you do. You can’t divorce it from your decisions. So how can you even question how strong a role it should play?
The majority of the participants in the poll voted that “It should not play any role.” Most of them posted comments to go with their vote that expressed sentiments stating the President should do what is best for the country. Or that he/she should attempt to be fair to all religions. But aren’t those both aspects of personal faith?
How does the President decide what is best for the country? What does he/she use as a guideline to know what is best? The President uses his/her belief about how the world works. And what he/she believes is right or wrong. There isn’t any other way to decide what is “best” than to use what he/she believes about the world.
And as for fairness towards all religions, isn’t that also an aspect of personal faith? A belief in personal responsibility and the freedom of religion is the only thing that can ensure “fairness” towards religions that are not your own. That belief comes from your world view. Which is entirely based on your personal faith. This applies even if your “personal faith” is Atheism.
Your personal faith is what you believe about how the world works. And whether you believe in Atheism, Humanism, Christianity, Islam, or any other belief system, it will and must affect every decision you make. It isn’t possible to divorce it from your decision making process. Because it is part of how you think!
I know some people will say that Atheism should not be included as a “personal faith.” The objection being that atheism is a belief in nothing, or is an absence of belief. And they may be right, but it is still a decision about how the world works. And it still affects all decisions and aspects of a person’s life. So I think in the context of the question in the poll, it fits right in.