I was the Mayor of Fargo, ND, for 16 years. Â Â I think people would be surprised at howÂ often religion isÂ what people want to discuss with a Mayor.
I wish I could remember all the different topics that lead to these visits about religion.Â A few were, abortion, homosexuality, alcohol sales, open stores on Sunday, which bands should allowed to hold concerts, topics advertised on billboards, prayers at public meetings, proclamations, sale of pornographic stuffÂ and team mascots.
InÂ these cases, I would explainÂ other people also hadÂ visited with me who had the opposite views.Â I wouldÂ sayÂ I needed to hear from everyone to learnÂ for myself what was involved in the issue.
“Mayor, in all due respect, you do not understand,” was often the reply.Â “I know I am right about this.Â If others are tellingÂ you something different, they are wrong.”
The late politician, Tip O’Neill used say, “All politics is local.” He meant that elections to national offices revolve around who is liked and known locally instead of around national issues.
I came to believe that is true about religion as well.Â That is,Â people’s “theology” isÂ influenced less byÂ what is discussed in seminaries and more by their parents, local values, pastors, friends and neigborhoods.
But, once theyÂ have arrived at their station in faith, they are confidentÂ they arrived there byÂ way ofÂ an insite into theology, not by these other influences.Â Â That gives them confidence to believe they are right.
Mayors come and go.Â But, the need to set them straight remains.