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At BYU, Lieberman says Romney nomination would test American fairness

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 25 2011 5:20 p.m. MDT

"(Candidates) have a right to talk about the role that faith plays in their life," Lieberman said. "(They also have to) understand that other voters have a right to decide whether that affects their views of those candidates. I always welcome the opportunity to hear about a candidate's faith. It helps me understand them as people better."

And as an observant Jew, Lieberman welcomes the opportunity to help people understand him and his beliefs better. As a new senator, he often had to explain why he wouldn't attend dinners or parties on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. In doing so, he found that the more he shared about his beliefs, the more respectful and understanding people became.

"We were of different faiths, but we were joined in classical American style by a shared belief in God," he said.

As a way to share more of his insights, Lieberman wrote a book about the Sabbath, and the blessings he finds from a day of rest.

"We live in a culture of hard work where people are desperately in need of rest — not just rest to recharge our batteries so we can work harder but to recharge our souls so we can live better," he wrote in "The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath." "For me, the answer to that need has been the Sabbath. It has anchored my life, revived my body, and restored my soul."

Lieberman is open with his beliefs and has been so his entire life, including during his run for the vice presidency nearly 11 years ago.

During that campaign, he said he felt supported by voters, who, while they appreciated his religious background and convictions, voted for him because they believed he was the right man for the job.

"Governor Romney must be judged not on the basis of his faith…but on his personal qualities, leadership experience and his ideas for America's future," Lieberman said. "My personal experience from 2000 gives me great confidence that the voter will again reject a (religious) test and show their strong character, their instinctive fairness and steadfast belief in the ideals of the Declaration and the Constitution. And when they do, another barrier may well be broken for another group in America, and the doors of opportunity will thereby open wider for every American."

Excerpts from his book: "The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath."

Both the Sabbath and work are commandments and gifts from God-each reinforcing the other. The Sabbath and the six days of labor together give us the greatest gifts of all: the gifts of meaning, purpose, and destiny. Rest without work would be meaningless. Work without rest would be purposeless. But together, work and rest offer us the hope of a better life today and the destiny of the ultimate redemption tomorrow.

Six days a week, I'm never without this little piece of plastic, chips, and wires that miraculously connects me to the rest of the world... If there were no Sabbath law to keep me from sending and receiving email all day as I normally do, do you think I would be able to resist the temptation on the Sabbath? Not a chance. Laws have this way of setting us free…God's law constantly challenges us to make separations, to make choices, to see the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, Sabbath rest and the week of work.

The Sabbath forces us to pull our eyes away from the digital flow and rejoin the natural world, where communication is accomplished mainly through human voices speaking and human ears listening. The genius of the Sabbath lies in the way it restricts us from certain activities and thereby, frees us to experience others including conversations—big ones with God and less grand ones with our family and friends. The early rabbis were so convinced of the importance of talking, listening, and responding that for centuries they compelled teachers and students to carry on their learning orally….On the Sabbath, we recapture the culture of speech.

EMAIL: sisraelsen@desnews.com

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