VIDEO - Sen. Chris Coons answers the question: “How do your spiritual values affect the work that you do in the government?”
Last week at the University of Delaware, Sen. Chris Coons was asked by UD President Dennis Assanis: “How do your spiritual values affect the work that you do in the government?”
“Well, first, I try to approach the intersection of my religious faith, and my public work on your behalf, with humility. I do not have a sense of certainty that my faith’s scripture, which is known as the Bible, has any specific political roadmap in it. There are others I serve with who seem to have greater confidence in this. I don’t. And, I’ll simply say my faith tradition gives me an approach towards the world and all of us that views this as creation, and all of us as created.
“It is, in some ways, in Western history, the underpinning of the idea of the value of the individual. The idea that each of us is imbued with special characteristics, that each of us is worthy of respect. You can reach that conclusion through completely non-religious ethical means, and you can reach that conclusion through any of the great faiths of human history. I am interested in and concerned about how we respect each other, how we treat each other, how we are seen in the world, and what the consequences for future generations are. And, all of that is informed by my personal faith.
“But, I also, as someone who was elected by 900,000 people, or elected to represent 900,000 people, try to remember that I represent a state with a very robust range of faith traditions: folks who are citizens, and my constituents, who have no faith, but are ethical, good people -- we have one of the largest Hindu communities in America. I think we were the first state in America to have Hinduism be the second most widely practiced faith. We have a robust community within the Christian community and the Jewish community that ranges from Evangelicals and Mormons, to Baptists to Lutherans to Catholics to -- I could give you a very long list.
“I think the good news is that in a modern era, we continue to be one of the most both religiously and spiritually inclined advanced nation. But, from our very founding as a country, we were about liberty, and we were particularly about the liberty to have a particular individualized faith or no faith at all. And, everyone has to have the opportunity to express and experience that intersection between public decision-making and private beliefs without the state applying any pressure, putting a thumb on the scale, or saying ‘this is a preferred way to be.’
“A lot of our families’ ancestors came to this country on a lot of different ships in a lot of different ways, but there was an important common strand of seeking liberty and seeking individual freedom and expression. A university should be one of those great places, where we can encounter each other, debate with each other, and then reach our own conclusions. And I am concerned, in the Congress, in our country, at our universities, that we continue to sustain that spirit of respect, the possibility of real dialogue, and a recognition of the critical role that a wide, diverse community of faiths have played in making this a truly great nation.”