These are excerpts from an article called "My Take: Reactions to Cain, Paterno Point to a Not-so-Christian Nation,"
by Stephen Prothero, who is a regular CNN Belief blog contributor.
In the never-ending debate over whether the United States is a Christian nation, recent events support the nay-sayers. I am referring to the troubles of Herman Cain and Joe Paterno.
How we respond to ethical conundrums often boils down to empathy. In the abortion debate, do you identify with the woman who wants an abortion, or with the fetus?
One purpose of the world's great religions is to widen our circle of empathy beyond ourselves and our families to others in the community, and in the wider world. Christianity, for example, has long taught that we should empathize with " the least of these", and particularly the poor and oppressed. (Luke 4:18)
When we look at the Herman Cain campaign, do our hearts go out to the wealthy businessman and White House contender, or do they go out to the women who are accusing him or sexual improprieties?
When we gaze at Penn State, do our hearts go out to the boys, some as young as 10, who were allegedly sexually assaulted by a former coach under Paterno? Or do we empathize with Paterno?
When I turn on the television and see "family values" conservatives jumping to Cain's defense within hours of the first charges surfacing, or Penn State students rioting over the decision of their university's Board of Trustees to fire Paterno, I have to ask myself, "What has happened to our supposedly Christian nation?"
I know that in the United States defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty. But I am not talking about the law here. I am talking about where our hearts incline, and whether they incline in a Christian direction.
I do not know if Jesus is a Penn State fan. He may well be, But if he were here today, would he be laying flowers at the front door of Paterno's house (as many students have done), or would he be seeking out the boys whose lives have allegedly been so irreparably damaged?
Would he be standing alongside Cain's lawyer as he issues not-so-veiled threats against accusers who have not yet gone public with their stories, or would he be standing by their side?
In your heart of hearts I think you know the answer.