Updated: Friday, 18 Dec 2009, 9:47 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 24 Dec 2009, 6:00 PM EST
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WANE) - With Christmas in mind, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels opened up about his Christian faith -which he calls the central part of his life- in a recent interview with NewsChannel 15 at the Governor's Residence in Indianapolis. Among other revealing responses, Daniels -a Presbyterian- said he would agree with the Westminster Confession of Faith's assertion that the purpose of life is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."
Daniels told NewsChannel 15 it's probably the most he's talked about his faith publicly in the last 5 years. The conversation sprung at least partly from the governor's recent recommendation of the book No One Sees God by Michael Novak, which Daniels characterized as responding to "aggressive atheism" with Christian charity. Excerpts of the interview are below:
Mark Mellinger: You've talked about your own personal faith very little. What is the Gospel? What is its primary significance to Mitch Daniels?
Governor Daniels: It's true. I don't talk about these things too openly for two reasons.
One is [that] although faith is very central to me, I also take very seriously the responsibility to treat my public duties in a way that keeps separate church and state and respects alternative views.
Secondly, I've sometimes referred to it as a Matthew 6 Christian. If you read that chapter, it's the one that talks about praying in private, not giving your alms in public, not being ostentatious about your faith. And I've always liked that notion and thought that was a pretty important instruction.
Mellinger: But theology has to shape your life, right? I mean, the external actions that we see you take, [they're] driven by what's inside. Isn't it all a result of your theology?
Daniels: I hope it is; hope it is, except we all fall short of that.
To me, the core of the Christian faith is humility, which starts with recognizing that you're as fallen as anyone else. And we're all constantly trying to get better, but... so I'm sure I come up short on way too many occasions.
Our country was founded -this is just an historic fact; some people today may resist this notion but it is absolutely true- it was founded by people of faith. It was founded on principles of faith. The whole idea of equality of men and women [and] of the races all springs from the notion that we're all children of a just God. It is very important to at least my notion of what America's about and should be about and I hope it's reflected most of the time in the choices that we make personally.
Mellinger: Is there part of you that is bothered by the aggressive atheism of a [Sam] Harris, a [Christopher] Hitchens, a [Richard] Dawkins? And what I mean is... this atheism is a little different than atheism has been in the past because it does seek to convert people.
Daniels: I'm not sure it's all that new. People who reject the idea of a God -who think that we're just accidental protoplasm- have always been with us. What bothers me is the implications -which not all such folks have thought through- because really, if we are just accidental, if this life is all there is, if there is no eternal standard of right and wrong, then all that matters is power.
And atheism leads to brutality. All the horrific crimes of the last century were committed by atheists -Stalin and Hitler and Mao and so forth- because it flows very naturally from an idea that there is no judgment and there is nothing other than the brief time we spend on this Earth.
Everyone's certainly entitled in our country to equal treatment
regardless of their opinion. But yes, I think that folks who
believe they've come to that opinion ought to think very carefully,
first of all, about how different it is from the American
tradition; how it leads to a very different set of outcomes in the
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