Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Would an Atheist Make a Good President?

No doubt our Founding Father are turning over in their graves at the headlines today about religion and politics. They were simple Deists, folks who believed in a supreme being and that's about it. No doctrines, no litmus tests, no churchy stuff: just an acknowledgement of a being who created us and then on with the task of moving the agenda Of the People forward.

A nasty email apparently has been landing in mailboxes across America saying that Obama was a Muslim during his youth in Indonesia. Mitt Romney is forced to defend Mormonism as a Christian religion. Baptist minister Mike Huckabee is running a TV spot in Iowa with the words CHRISTIAN LEADER appearing below his photo.

The Atlanta Constitution Journal this morning says this about the issue of politics and religion:

The additional problem for Romney is that the Republican Party is dominated by Christian fundamentalists who have preached for over 25 years that GOP stands for God's Only Party. Their reference to God is not to a generic civil deity but to the Christian God. If the Republican Party belongs to God, then the Republican Party can't be led by one who does not believe in that God, no matter how hard Romney tries to say that Mormonism and Christianity share the same God.

One-third of all GOP caucus members in Iowa identify themselves as Fundamentalist Christians. Romney's numbers there are miserable. Yet in New Hampshire, where Christian fundamentalists make up only 9% of the voters, Romney is in the lead.

The American Prospect today posted a story called The Fundamentalist List. It says:

Randy Brinson, formerly of the Alabama Christian Coalition and now head of Redeem the Vote, has, according to the Post, provided 414,000 contacts for Huckabee in Iowa alone, a full quarter of all expected caucus-goers. Redeem the Vote is a Christian organization devoted to registering young people to vote; it has been hailed as the second coming of the Christian right -- this time in a less divisive package. Huckabee's alliance with Brinson goes back to 2004, when he agreed to serve as the chair of the organization's advisory committee.

We in Ohio understand the power of the Christian Coalition: it was through their overt and covert actions that the Bush/Cheney administration won re-election. Ohio was the key state that cemented the victory.

That brings up an interesting question which I have yet to have answered: why do Christian fundamentalists listen so attentively to those Christian organizations which promote a certain candidate for public office? Are they the proverbial sheep so often mentioned in the Scriptures? Mindless folks following the tails of the one in front of them?

For example: Now that we have 'experienced' the Bush/Cheney administration for the past 7 years, what lessons have we learned from these years? Here's the question that is most apropos for the Christian voter who chose those two over the other two sets of candidates in 2000 and 2004: 'Did the Bush/Cheney Administration mirror the actions of Jesus Christ during their time in office?' Is ask this because, I assume, they voted on the basis of some 'Christian morality' that was suggested to them by the Christian wing of the Republican Party.

If that voter has to stop and think about whether Bush/Cheney mirrored Jesus, then they were clear victims of a scam, duped into voting for people for whom the expectation failed to materialize. Is the depth-of-Christianity of a candidate a valid litmus test for governance?

As I have looked through the history books and stories of the past Presidents of the United States, their religious affiliation may have been a footnote at best. Did George Washington's 'faith' help him steer our flimsy ship of state through those early murky waters? Did Lincoln's Bible beliefs help him through the Civil War and his condemnation of slavery? Were the humanitarian actions of Franklin Roosevelt after the Great Depression motivated by his religion? I think not. Yet today, some of our citizens think it necessary to place a man of deep Christian faith into the highest office of the land, as if because of that fact they will be effective captains of the Ship of State.

For the past decade radical religious fundamentalists have caused havoc throughout the world. Right now 150,000 of our men and women will miss Christmas with their families because they have to referee a religious war in Iraq and Afghanistan. For many, it will be their 2nd, 3rd and 4th missed Christmas with family. Haven't we had enough of religious fundamentalism? Why in the world would we want religious fundamentalists choosing the next leader of our nation?

I do not know that answer.

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