Religion for Politics

Does religion have anything to contribute to ethical discourse?  It seems an almost silly question.  Nearly every person would concede that  great ethical Truths are expressed in religion. 'Treat  people fairly.'  'Don't expect something for nothing.'  'Give to people more than what they minimally deserve.' Religion, and each religion, has something of value contribute to any conversation about what is right and what is wrong. (We will set aside he question of how we know there is such a thing is right or wrong, for now.  There is). This seems absurd to the point o being inane. Meteorologist probably have input on how to dress your kids for the day. Historians can give useful Insight on taxes and tariffs and land policy. Preaches and Sunday School teachers have insight into ethics.  So what happens if we list the great ethical challenges of our day?  Pro-choice, pro-life and access to birth-control. Gun-control, self-defense, the fifth-commandment, abhorring violence, gentleness, sanctity of life.  Health care rights, taxation, tyranny of kings, the charge to love the poor and all our neighbors. Right to die, made in God's image, eternal life. Any ethical insight that goes beyond saying "Don't take your sisters candy!" quickly runs into sticky political questions. And those sticky points are the point. It is the point of objections by people who do not want religion to influence public policy or politics. It is he point of faithful people who want their religion to impact public life. Politicians of nearly all kinds love to hold up religion as part of the supporting structure for their political positions. And let us hope politicians are drawing from the deep well of their own faith. We should also remember that every politician is working with an election in mind. Every pundit questions, speaks and challenges with ratings in mind. Religious leaders simply are not going to get that much attention. So we are free to ask them for a less influenced ethical input. Rather than taking the religous claims of our political leaders with such ponderous weight, maybe should ask more simple and direct questions of scripture and our own religous leaders.  What does the Bible tell us about life, liberty and pursuing happiness?  What does our tradition know about the tyranny of leaders?  Moses, Jesus and Paul all have  great experience and wisdom about living under leaders we don't agree with. Esther and Daniel know how to live within structures of power. Isaiah, Moses, David know how to fail and succeed in wielding power. Our leaders and pundits may be listening to this wisdom. Surely we can help them by vocalizing the wisdom of faith to help them, and challenge them. And even call them to shape up when they get off the mark.