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The situation with New York Congressman Charles Rangel serves to remind us of the sorry state of ethics in America today, and should lead us to question how we have arrived at this present morass.

The Congressman is charged with 13 violations of House ethics rules - 13! - and for that he is to be brought down to the front of the House and told, "Naughty, naughty." Whether or not he'll go along, and thus save the Democrats a potentially embarrassing trial, lasting into the heat of the political season, remains to be seen.

And, as if that weren't enough, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters seems likely to be in line for trouble with the House Ethics Committee.

Our political leaders, in recent years, have presented a veritable library of case studies in ethical failure. Is it any wonder that the nation seems to have lost its ethical bearings when governors, members of Congress, and public officials at all levels are seen to have a penchant for moral lapse?

We might expect to find the Church offering a higher standard; but we would be disappointed. Here as well high-visibility leaders have fallen into ethical snares, while, at the local level, pastors have all but abandoned instruction in the Law of God, preferring a kind of ethic of tolerance and love in its place.

But this is not enabling the Body of Christ to provide solid moral leadership for the body politic and the nation as a whole. The ethical pontificating of Congress is strictly a matter of expediency; if they didn't have to charge anyone, they probably wouldn't.

What's our excuse? Why isn't the Church a shining light of moral conviction and goodness in a day when everyone's ethical gyroscopes seem to have gone haywire? Have we forgotten that our redemption is unto good works? That we are to shine like a city on a hill? That our good works should be conspicuous to all?

The affair of Rep. Charles Rangel might never have happened if only there were a strong and widespread contingent among the electorate, living and demanding of all our neighbors, not just our elected officials, a standard of ethics pleasing to God and beneficial for all men, a standard rooted in the Law of God.

T. M. Moore
T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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