Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Is there true religious freedom if a U.S. president has to choose a religion?

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Originally published on on Wed, 12/12/2007 – 12:28pm

During the 2000 debacle, I was working for an encyclopedia company when it decided to put together a special volume on presidential races and history. I remember copy editing the page that listed all the presidents. There were many categories: Party, Date Born, Date Died, Birthplace.

The last column was Religion. I looked up and down the list. Every one had a religion. I noticed that we have had two Quakers in the White House yet only one Catholic. All have been Christian, usually some Methodist or Protestant affiliation.

I wonder what they would put down if a president somehow got elected and had no religion. “Atheist” is not a religion, neither is “Agnostic.”

None would be a good choice, but if you believe a Gallup poll from about a year ago that reveals that Americans would rather be governed by a homosexual than an atheist, None probably won’t happen for a long time.

The religions of the leading candidates have been an issue lately in the political cycle. John Kerry got huge amounts of flak for his Catholicism, yet Giuliani’s Catholicism has gotten little if any attention. But the big shining light in this year’s race is on Mormonism and Mitt Romney.

The good news for Democrats is that there is a long laundry list of reasons not to vote for Romney. And Republican voters would share some of those reasons as well. But some Evangelicals don’t want to vote for Romney because he’s a … Mormon.

So freakin’ what if he’s a Mormon. If we are going to truly separate religion from politics, we shouldn’t care about someone’s religion.

The problem is that Evangelicals care and so does Romney. Because they care, we have to be gravely concerned. We have been wasting time with “theories” such as Creationism instead of using science to better our lives. Stem cell research has been held back due to religious interference.

As Media Matters notes in his now infamous speech: “Romney attacked unnamed people who ‘seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God,’ claiming, ‘It’s as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong.’ Nor did the article note Romney’s claims that ‘[f]reedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom,’ and ‘[f]reedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.’ ”

No, Mr. Romney, freedom gives you the option to pursue religion or not pursue it. That is true freedom. It is only from true choice that choosing God or whatever becomes meaningful. When it’s required, religion loses all meaning because choice — and freedom — are gone. As British author Anthony Burgess put it, “If a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.” And sometimes, that choice is None.

It doesn’t matter if Mitt Romney is a Mormon or Rudy Giuliani is a Catholic or Hillary Clinton is a Methodist. But it DOES matter if their religious practices make it more difficult to have an ongoing discussion on how to make this country a better place for all its citizens.

The lyrics from this Scott Beach song “Religion and Politics” from of all places, the Dr. Demento show, tell us why religion and politics truly need to be separate.

Religion and politics
Often make some people
Lose all perspective and
Give way to ranting and raving and
Carrying on like emotional children.
They either refuse to discuss it with reason,
Or else they prefer argumentum ad hominum,
Which is a hell of a way to conduct a discussion.


Written by democracysoup

December 12, 2007 at 12:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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