08 October 2011

W-H-Y should religion be an issue regarding public policy??

American politics can get REALLY silly when the debate focuses on how religious/faithful a candidate can be. This story "For Romney, Social Issues Pose New Test" will be on the front page of Sunday's NY Times:

Mr. Romney has tried at every stage of the race for the Republican presidential nomination to focus on the economy, and he did so again on Saturday, when he appeared here at the Values Voter Summit, a gathering of social conservative activists.

But he also felt compelled to reiterate that he was in sync with social conservatives as he ran through his positions on abortion, marriage, judicial appointments and religious values. And as other speakers condemned homosexuality and raised questions about whether a Mormon is a true Christian, Mr. Romney emphasized that tolerance and civility were conservative values.


Beyond Mr. Romney’s substantive positions, his faith is re-emerging as a concern among some evangelicals. On Saturday, a conservative activist speaking after Mr. Romney, Bryan Fischer, said without naming Mr. Romney that the next president had to be a man of “genuine” Christian faith. On Friday, a backer of Mr. Perry described Mr. Romney’s faith as a cult.

Mr. Perry later said he disagreed with that characterization, and some evangelical leaders said they were less concerned about Mr. Romney’s being a Mormon than about his stand on the issues.

This is one of the 100s of reasons (OK i may be exaggerating) that I choose to remain an atheist and I'm thankful that I never attended church service or religious schools in my life, not even when I was a little kid. And if Republicans seriously get into these silly arguments over faith and heavily seek the concerns of blue-nosed religious fundamentalists in public policy such as in education, reproductive freedom, gay rights, etc., then I'm never going to vote Republican in my life as long as this horrendous, disturbing connection with Republicans and creationists/homophobes/anti-rationalists continues.

Furthermore, Republicans just cannot STAND anyone who doesn't represent the Judeo-Christian ideal, whether in attacking the Mormon Mitt Romney for not being Christian enough or smearing Barack Obama as a Muslim. Given the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the US post-9/11, the Muslim smear obviously was a dog-whistle appeal to the more bigoted Americans just like Ronald Reagan speaking about states' rights in Philadelphia, Mississippi (a town where in 1964 three civil rights workers were murdered) in 1980 was. This fear of the occult (the religious buzzword for the unknown, outside the realm of faith) drives all the lies and idiocy from the right when it comes to religion in American public policy. That's why you'll encounter "where is separation of church and state?" or "America is a Christian nation" all the time in conservative commentators, speeches, etc.

In fact, when Christine O'Donnell ran for Vice Pres. Joe Biden's former US Senate seat in Delaware (won by Democratic candidate Chris Coons thankfully), she risked getting laughter in mockery for claiming that SoC&S is not in the Constitution. Well, what's so hard about "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"? Basically: RELIGION IS AN INDIVIDUAL CHOICE, THE GOVERNMENT CAN'T FORCE ONE FAITH ON THE PEOPLE OR PROHIBIT ONE? DO YOU GET IT, FUNDAMENTALISTS? Although the constitution obliges the government to defend one's right to observe a faith, the government is not obliged to uphold the values of the faith itself. Thus, when will the supreme court ever break apart the faith-based initiatives division of the White House? Furthermore, the question liberals/secularists need to challenge conservatives should be: where in the Constitution indicates that the nation shall be governed under Christian values? That should stump those strict constructionists who insist that original intent of the founders should guide federal laws.

And yes, as an atheist I have voted for Christians for political office. I vote for candidates based on their political positions and experience, not trivial personal traits like how religious or non religious they are. HOWEVER, if a candidate repeatedly puts on the God/faith peacock feathers in campaigns or backs causes championed by the Religious Right, the candidate loses my vote. I remember reading the 2010 California voter guide and seeing one of the third-party right-wing candidates (either of the American Independent or Constitution Parties) boasting about God in the campaign statement.

No comments: