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Theology - Just Another Branch of Human Ignorance

By Jill Chapin

December 9, 2007

Those aren’t my words; they belong to Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith. But they could be yours if you really listened to the religious rhetoric spewing forth from some of our presidential candidates. There is already a silent but sizable group of voters who tremble at the thought of a fervently religious president seeking guidance from a higher power that is not the Supreme Court. We would be wise to take notice of their growing concern about candidates who wear their religion on their sleeves as visible as a flag on their lapel.

Mike Huckabee is an alarming example of what can happen when religious beliefs take precedence over beliefs in our laws. When Mr. Huckabee was Arkansas’ governor, a convicted, imprisoned rapist convinced him that he was "saved" and had become a born-again Christian. Apparently being conned by a con is not so difficult when the god-fearing pious eagerly play the role of the sucker. This pond scum’s word was good enough for Huckabee to want him set free. Because God played such a big role in this decision, we can only wonder what kind of Heavenly Father would foist such a cruel fate on the next victim who was murdered less than a year after this rapist’s release.

And what about Huckabee wanting creationism taught in public schools? As Tim Rutten recently wondered, does anyone worry about the future of our country’s technological competitiveness with a president who wants our taxpayer-educated children to grow up scientifically illiterate?

Mr. Rutten also took a look at Mitt Romney, comparing his recent religious address with that of Kennedy’s, pointing out their pointed differences. Kennedy not only defended the separation of church and state; he insisted upon it. Romney, on the other hand, told us that we can’t have freedom without religion. Really? Maybe this Christmas, Santa should bring Mr. Romney a copy of the constitution.

Kennedy told his audience that religious beliefs are private. Romney, however, voiced concern that secularism is hellbent on viewing religion as a private affair with no place in public life. And while Kennedy had the guts to address an audience that was a hostile assemblage of Protestant clergyman, Romney played it safe with his hand-picked audience, blatantly appealing to the evangelical right.

Although Huckabee and Romney have been in the headlines lately regarding their religious views, it would be prudent to take a closer look at the other candidates as well. Pay attention not only to what they say, but also to what they may wisely withhold from you. Kennedy was right; religious beliefs should be kept private, just in case non-believing but nevertheless discerning voters might marvel at how otherwise intelligent candidates tend to speak as literally about their God as do children who talk about their St. Nick.

Mr. Harris feels that people who harbor strong convictions without evidence belong at the margins of our societies, not in the halls of power. If you agree, then how dangerous is our world becoming when leaders from this supposed superpower profess such devotion to the supernatural?

Do we really want God making decisions in the Oval Office? If so, whose God and whose religion would be navigating us through beliefs that are as unchanged today as they were back in the twelfth century?

An Iowan recently declared that Romney’s speech clinched his decision to support him. Although this voter didn’t agree with a lot of Romney’s theology, he wasn’t concerned because, as he pointed out, we’re not electing a national pastor.

But with candidates practically elbowing each other over bragging rights for best divining the infinite wisdom of their Almighty, don’t be so sure.





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