Am I going to hell?
Not that I have anything against Billy Graham as a person. He came across in the book as genuinely sincere, truly striving to be a servant and to witness to whomever he could. And who wouldn't witness to presidents if given the opportunity?
He also, however, came across as somewhat naïve, at least to me. What creeps me out is his allowing himself and his position and popularity to be used for political purposes—that he didn't necessarily recognize, or worse he was complicit in, the fact that he had political influence. To find out that memos are regularly written at The White House about how to use Billy Graham to secure votes just sets my teeth on edge.
This is not a new thing, either. It goes back to the days of Truman. For the last sixty years, presidential politics has been inextricably bound up with the evangelical branch of Christianity. Billy's access to the presidents also opened the door to additional access from religious leaders, who haven't always been quite as high-minded in their goals or tactics. It made it seem like it is okay for religion to have a role in policy-making.
What does this mean to me in this election year? I think I've come to one very strong conclusion: I don't want to be represented by a president who thinks I'm going to hell. If there were one question I could ask all of the candidates, it would be this: "I don't subscribe to the same belief system you do. I haven't performed the rituals or made any vows that your faith tradition would recognize. Do you think I'm going to hell because of this?"
Not that I believe in hell as a place, per se, because I don't. But I don't want my leadership to think I'm headed that way, because that would mean to me that they probably wouldn't invest any time in making my life better here. Why should they, when they think my soul is a loss anyway? Wouldn't they instead invest their time in supporting and paving the way for those they believe they're going to meet on the other side?
In other words, someone who thinks I'm going to hell is not going to care about me, or my family, or anyone of my belief system. They're not going to represent my best interests or put themselves at risk on my behalf.
And hell, that's what I'm electing them to do. So my vote is going to someone who won't be surprised to meet up with me in heaven.
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