FMC #1 — Moral Dimensions of the 2016 Election Cycle

Reading Time: 3 minutes
The Death Leap of Marcus Curtius, by Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691 - 1765). Has the political rift in the U.S. widened into a moral chasm?

“The Death Leap of Marcus Curtius,” by Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691 – 1765) See it live at Smith College, Northampton, Mass. Has the political rift in the U.S. widened into a moral chasm? What will it take to close, or at least narrow, the divide?


Welcome to the Faith-Mind Continuum!

Around the water cooler at work, picking up the kids after school, working out on the treadmill at the gym—no matter where you are lately, you’re probably hearing people talk about the presidential election.

While we’re used to candidates spouting off about hot-button issues such as immigration, abortion, and gay rights, this year the main topic seems to be about whether we want to vote for a politician or a businessperson. The typical questions regarding the candidates’ moral fiber have almost been thrown out the window since Donald Trump announced his candidacy. Not only is he polarizing Democrats and Republicans even more than before, but he is also causing an interesting rift among evangelical and conservative voters as he gains support from some spiritual leaders and is lambasted by others. Yet Trump remains strong with voters in early polls.

This popularity suggests that something is changing in the national attitude, and we would like to know why.

Reverend Mark Longhurst of the First Congregational Church of Williamstown, UCC, photo courtesy First Congregational Church of Williamstown.

Reverend Mark Longhurst of the First Congregational Church of Williamstown, UCC, photo courtesy First Congregational Church of Williamstown.

In this first episode of The Faith-Mind Continuum, we speak with Reverend Mark Longhurst of The First Congregational Church of Williamstown, Massachusetts, to explore the church’s role in the whole political arena and to try to make sense of what’s going on in voters’ minds. He reminds us, among other things, that the story of Jesus is a political one—but not a partisan one.


About the featured image

“The Death Leap of Marcus Curtius”
Giovanni Paolo Pannini (or studio)
Smith College; Gift of Jean McLean Morron, class of 1901

(from Wikipedia) After an earthquake in 362 BC, a huge deep pit suddenly opened in the Roman Forum, which the Romans attempted to fill up in vain. Despairing, they consulted an oracle who responded that the gods demanded the most precious possession of the country. The Romans doubted the warning, and struggled to think of what that was. However Marcus Curtius, a young soldier, castigated them and responded that arms and courage of Romans were the most precious possessions of Rome. With his horse, fully and meticulously armed and decorated, he went into the gap. Immediately, the deep pit closed. The Lacus Curtius in the Forum receives its name from him.


Links mentioned in this episode or consulted for fodder in this discussion about the moral implications of political behavior:

from Rev. Mark Longhurst,
First Congregational Church, UCC, Williamstown, MA


The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church. “Episcopal Bishops Issue a Word to the Church.The Episcopal Church, last modified March 15, 2016

Lowry, Rich. “Donald Trump—The Jacksonian Candidate.” National Review, last modified November 24, 2015

Wallis, Jim. “Donald Trump and the Death Knell of White Supremacy.” Sojourners, last modified March 3, 2016


Continuum Links

Jenkins, Jack. “The Real Reason Trump Is Winning Evangelical Support: They’re Just Not That ‘Religious.’ThinkProgress, last modified January 27, 2016

Lee, MJ, and Eugene Scott. “Ben Carson endorses Donald Trump.” CNN Politics, last modified March 11, 2016

Lucado, Max. “Decency for President.” Max Lucado, last modified February 24, 2016

Rodriguez, Sarah. “Falwell Speaks.” The Liberty Champion, last modified March 8, 2016

Taylor, Jessica. “True Believer? Why Donald Trump Is The Choice Of The Religious Right.” NPR, last modified September 13, 2015

Yardley, Jim. “Pope Francis Suggests Donald Trump Is ‘Not Christian.’The New York Times, last modified February 18, 2016

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