In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful
This was published on the Chicago Tribune’s religion blog, The Seeker.
Last week, Chicago made history in several senses: it was the first time in about two decades that a Daley was not on the ballot for Mayor of Chicago. In addition, it was the first time that a man of the Jewish faith was elected to the highest office in the city. This is indeed significant, given the historic discrimination and racism that has been directed – and is still directed – at Americans of the Jewish faith. It is as significant as the small numbers of American Muslims who have also been elected to municipal offices across the country as well.
Yet, at the end of the day, Rahm Emanuel’s faith is irrelevant.
The basis upon which he should be judged is his effectiveness as mayor of the City of Chicago, not his religious conviction. Indeed, it is nice to know that America has come a long way since the days of “religious tests,” even if unwritten, for those who seek to serve in public office. Yet, one’s religious faith should not enter into the calculus for how good a leader will or will not be.
This is especially true when it comes to President Obama, under whom Mayor-Elect Emanuel worked for two years. Despite the repeated assertions that he is a Christian, there is a persistent belief among many in our society that he is secretly Muslim. Yet, why does that matter? What if he were a Muslim? Does that make him inherently unfit for office? Does that disqualify him for public service? Does it even matter what faith President Obama claims to follow? It does not.
It remains to be seen how Chicago’s new mayor will perform in office, especially with the myriad of challenges he faces. Yet, one thing is certain, Rahm Emanuel’s religious faith has no bearing on his job as mayor. Whatever God he worships is entirely his business alone.