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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ohio Gov.-elect Strickland: I Heed Micah 6:8

COLUMBUS (TDB) -- The interconnection of religion and politics is an enduring feature of American life, and Ohio's incoming Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, is an overtly religious man who was ordained as a minister in the United Methodist Church. Although he no longer practices as a preacher, Strickland dipped into those professional roots for a little Scriptural insight about himself while campaigning in 2006 and cited the biblical passage that has shaped how he handles elected office.

Strickland, who was a congressman from Ohio's Appalachian counties, uses the words of the Prophet Micah as his guiding principle.

His campaign bio is still online and elaborates: "After Ted Strickland was first reelected to Congress, he placed a plaque in his office with the following quote from Scripture: And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to do kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? -- Micah 6:8. Throughout his service as a minister, a psychologist, a professor and a Member of Congress, Ted has worked to exemplify those simple, powerful words."

For now, the whole campaign bio is still available on the web. It will probably disappear after Strickland takes office in a few days.

Micah is not considered one of the Old Testament's major prophets. Encyclopedia Brittanica says he "attacked the corruption of those in high places and social injustice" and that the Book of Micah is the 6th of the Twelve Prophets. He lived about 800 B.C. and the essence of his message seems to be that he was looking forward to the era of freedom, when all of the people of earth could worship in peace and religious infighting would end. He was the "swords into plowshares" prophet: ''And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation and they shall not learn war any more."

Micah also said God didn't want people to make sacrifices for him -- "burnt offerings." He wanted lives of peace, justice and kindness. Micah was a social justice guy. Nowadays, he's pretty influential with what might be called the Christian Left as opposed to the Christian Right personified by Pat Robertson et al.

So far, I haven't heard if Strickland plans to hang his plaque with the Micah quote in the Ohio governor's office. Maybe he could find a painting or woodcut and put it on the wall as well. That way Micah could look over his shoulder all day long.

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