As I mentioned during my live blog of the Republican debate the other night, I get really uncomfortable when the whole religion question pops up in politics. The reason is, of course, because I’m an Atheist. I have a problem with anyone telling me that they think their actions are divinely inspired, much less someone who desires to be the leader of the free world. It’s always amazed me that if an individual claims that they blew up a building because a mythical sky being told them to do so we say they are crazy, but if someone else says they are running for political office because a different version of the same mythical sky being told them they were supposed to we think that’s perfectly ok.
No, running for office isn’t the same thing as blowing up a building…but you’re both still claiming that your actions were directed by a being nobody else has the ability to see or hear.
That’s kinda creepy to me.
But I digress…
When the issue of Faith came up during the debate on Tuesday it was primarily because of the fact that Mitt Romney’s religion (Mormonism) was called out recently as being a cult by Baptist Pastor Robert Jeffres. As I said on Twitter when I found out about this, to me that’s pretty much the pot calling the kettle black. I’ll admit that Mormonism is pretty wacky, but it seems to me that the only real difference between a religion and a cult is mainstream acceptance. The entire exchange during the debate was upsetting to me, with the exception of the response Romney gave (which was, essentially, that we shouldn’t base whether or not we vote on someone by their religious beliefs), but when you consider the fact that it was HIS faith under fire you really can’t blame the guy for trying to divert the question.
While the whole exchange was distasteful to me, it was the reply from Newt Gingrich that really pissed me off.
How can you have judgment if you have no faith? How can I trust you with power if you don’t pray? The notion that you are endowed by your Creator sets a certain boundary on what we mean by America.
So, according to Newt, I’m not fit for public office because I don’t believe in God and I don’t pray. You can’t trust me based on the fact that I don’t let the decree of a mythical sky being define my actions.
And you wonder why Atheists sue over religious practices in government organizations?
I’m sorry, but when I hear someone complain about the fact they they aren’t comfortable saying “Merry Christmas” or some other inane thing like that I wonder how they would feel if they knew that professing to have their belief system (or lack thereof) would immediately disqualify them from holding any form of higher political office in their country.
What I find even more amusing about this is the fact that, statistically speaking, there ARE Atheists holding office right now…they’re just lying about it. A survey taken in 2009 found that approximately 15% of the population in America claimed to have no religious beliefs at all. If the 100 members of the Senate were an accurate representation of the population, that would mean that 15 of them fell into that category. Oddly enough, that doesn’t seem to be the case. That means that either that demographic isn’t represented or, more likely, politicians know they have to lie about their religious beliefs in order to get elected.
So…There’s a 15% chance that the person who says they share your beliefs is just telling you that to try and convince you to vote for them.
On top of all this, I was directed to an op-ed piece written by Herman Cain on the Red State blog. The title of the post was “The Perfect Conservative”, and in it he makes absolutely ludicrous claims about Jesus of Nazareth, saying that Jesus was a Conservative because he “never collected an unemployment check” or “traveled by private jet.” Never mind the fact that those things didn’t exist during the time that Jesus was alive. Oh, he also claims that Jesus was a Conservative because he “healed the sick without a government health system” and “fed the hungry without food stamps.” OK. Let’s accept, for a moment, that Jesus was actually the son of God and could perform miracles (since Cain claims to believe just that). It’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison to the average Joe then, is it? I mean, it’s not like like you can tell someone they should just be like Jesus and feed the poor without any money or government assistance when they can’t produce food out of thin air. If your health insurance plan is hanging around with a dude that can make your nasty sinus infection go away with a light touch and a kind word you’re not exactly worried about whether or not you can afford to go see a doctor, now are you?
So, yeah, I suppose Jesus WAS a Conservative if you look at it in light of how much he turned to the Government to solve his problems, but he kinda had that whole “I’m the son of God” thing on his side to give him a bit of a leg up in that regard. Amusingly enough, that also flies in the face of the claim that Cain makes about Jesus not being “born into a royal family.” Last time I checked, Jesus was referred to in the bible as the “King of Kings” (Timothy 6:14-16, Revelation 17:14). Pretty sure you don’t get much more royal than THAT.
If I seem a bit annoyed by all of this it’s because, well, I am. The more comfortable I get with my own Atheism, the less comfortable I am with the fact that my ability to live my life the way that I want to can be curtailed by someone simply because their religious beliefs say my choices are wrong. The more a politician talks about their faith, and specifically how it guides what they do in office, the less likely I am to vote for them. I’d give anything to have a viable candidate who professed to be an Atheist, but unfortunately that isn’t very likely in the climate we have in our country today. The most I can hope for, apparently, is someone who just shuts the hell up about religion in general. Unfortunately, from the Republican side of the aisle, that seems to be harder and harder to find these days.