OK. I've got to admit it - being a part of the panel to ask candidates for the presidency of the United States about their faith and moral values was just plain surreal. Kudos to Jim Wallis (and Jack Pannell and the rest of the Sojourners organization) for creating this historic event!
As I reflected on what it was and what it could have been, I came up with just a couple of missing elements:
First, I would have loved to have asked the candidates about how they arrive at a moral decision. Issues will come and go, stances will sometimes change, and circumstances will affect how a value is put into practice. But the one thing that seldom changes is the process of how we determine right from wrong. Are there certain points of reference, like the Bible, or the teachings of somebody, or a past mentor that the candidate thinks about? Are there particular people that a candidate consults before he or she determines what is morally right in a case? How much is prayer involved, and what do they look for in an answer?
As a voter, I want to know who a person is, at least as well as I can. I can read their positions on issues and their goals for when they get in office. What I yearn to know, though, is who they are as people and how they think. If that thinking process is not well established, chances are they will be tossed about by every lobbyist and changing circumstance.
Second, I would have liked a three or four minute time limit on answers. The more questions we could have asked the more angles from which we could have looked into the candidate. The different angles produce a more accurate picture (it's the difference between an x-ray and an MRI).
But what a great event it was! And what an honor to be a part of it!
Rev. Joel C. Hunter is the senior pastor of Northland church in Longwood, Florida.