by Harvey Bluedorn
This is what Ron Paul said at the CNN Debate on the evening of January 26, in answer to a question from a woman in the audience.
[Suzanne Bass:] “How would your religious beliefs, if you’re elected, impact the decisions that you make in the office of the presidency.”
[Wolf Blitzer:] “Congressman Paul?”
[Ron Paul:] “Well, my religious beliefs wouldn’t affect it. My religious beliefs affect my character in the way I treat people and the way I live. The only thing it would affect … [interrupted by a long seven second outburst of applause] The only thing that would affect me in the way I operate as a president or a congressman is my oath of office and my promises that I’ve made to the people.”
What did Ron Paul actually mean by what he said?
He said his religious beliefs affect who he is, and who he is affects what he does. He is a man of principle and of principles. He is a man of his word. He keeps his oath and his promises. The way we would say this in theological language is, “Ron Paul fears God.” His whole life declares this truth.
What are the Biblical qualifications for a man in governmental authority?
“… You shall select … able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness …” “Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men …” (Ex. 18:21; Deut. 1:13)
Without meaning to defame or disparage the other candidates, this nevertheless reduces the field to only one – Ron Paul.
Ron Paul has always made a point of not making a point about his religion. “My faith is a deeply private issue to me, and I don’t speak on it in great detail during my speeches because I want to avoid any appearance of exploiting it for political gain.” (Ron Paul’s Statement of Faith)
Some shirtsleeve Christians take umbrage at this. They are looking for a little talk about his personal experience, or for how the Bible affects his worldview, or for some special application of a Biblical passage to some governmental task, or some other sound bite religion. They are not satisfied unless they get just what they want.
If you’ve followed Ron Paul long enough, you’ve heard him directly reference the Bible and Biblical concepts – never as a catch or a draw, but as a principle applied – and always applied well. For example, his entire monetary policy is built on the concept of the just weights and measures required in the Bible. (“We must follow the Biblical mandate of using honest weights and measures – not printing money out of thin air …” Ron Paul’s Statement of Faith) His foreign policy is in part built on the Christian concept of the just war (“Once war is declared, it must be waged according to Just War principles.”) as well as the Christian principles of mutual respect and the laws of reciprocity. He has publicly made reference to these things repeatedly.
In his statement of faith, Ron Paul says, “Let me be very clear here: I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and I endeavor every day to follow Him in all I do and in every position I advocate.”
So what did Ron Paul mean by “my religious beliefs wouldn’t affect it.” Perhaps we should gather our understanding from what was actually said.
The question was how his religious beliefs would impact his decisions. “Impact” means directly affect. He made the point that his oath and his promises would have the most direct effect on how he operated as a president. What does that mean? “In Congress, I never vote for any piece of legislation that violates the Constitution’s strict limits on government power. … As President, I give you my word that I will only exercise my authority within the confines of the Constitution, and I will work every day to rein in a runaway federal government by binding it with the chains of that document.” (Ron Paul’s Statement of Faith) In other words, he will not be a law unto himself, but he will follow the rule of law and work to make others accountable to the same rule.
And where did he learn this? From following Jesus. “My parents raised my four brothers and me on a dairy near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they set clear examples for each of us about faith, honest living, and individual responsibility. Their Christian values helped inspire two of my brothers to eventually enter the ministry, and provided me with the foundation I needed to practice medicine and one day become a U.S. Representative.” (Ron Paul’s Statement of Faith)
So what was Ron Paul saying? His Christian values are the foundation of everything he does. He doesn’t just talk about it, he lives it every day. Nobody who has studied the man believes otherwise. Even his enemies praise him for it, including some of the most unexpected personalities. Many people oppose him precisely because they have no doubt that, of all the candidates, he alone will indeed keep his oath and his promises – he has a life that proves it.
So the real emphasis should not be on what Ron Paul didn’t say, but on what he did say. “My religious beliefs affect my character in the way I treat people and the way I live.” This is what provoked the extended applause from the audience. This is what we ought to applaud ourselves. This is what we ought to strive to be, as we have Ron Paul as an example. This is what really qualifies Ron Paul to be a man in authority.