On Elections and Religion

An Editorial

Don’t worry Cat Flaggers, I have a bigger blog post I’m working on… but this little short editorial is just something I feel I need to say.

Recently, someone I know (who shall remain anonymous) told me that he wouldn’t vote for Mitt Romney because of the candidate’s religion. As most of you probably know, Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and there are people who are worried about handing the White House to somebody of that faith. Author Craig Foster said “The Mormon question remains… There is no question there has been a lot of soul-searching and hand-wringing among Christians… Few know what the Mormons really are or what they claim to be.”

To everybody who is worried about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism or who won’t vote for the candidate because of his faith, I have a message.

GROW UP AND KNOCK IT OFF!

Do we really have to go through this every time we have a strong presidential candidate who doesn’t belong to an elect set of apparently “approved” Protestant churches? It’s freakin’ unconstitutional.

No, really – our nation’s constitution explicitly says “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Yet we act like our leaders are held to some kind of religious test. When John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960, he had to face critics who suggested he would be a puppet of the pope, because he was Catholic, you see. Richard Nixon considered himself a Quaker, but he was often criticized for being a “false Quaker” because he swore, drank, and escalated the Vietnam War (Quakers are supposed to be pacifists).

Current president Barack Obama faced the “religion test” twice. Not only was he pressured to abandon his church of 20 years because of its controversial pastor, but he also had to deal with critics who accused him of being a secret Muslim, which this video does a good job of demonstrating as being utter nonsense, but even if President Obama were Muslim, what would it matter?

I paid attention in U.S. Government class. The duties of our nation’s president include signing bills into law or vetoing them, appointing top government officials, military leaders, and judges subject to an “OK” from the Senate, setting America’s foreign policy, commanding our nation’s troops, writing proclamations and executive orders, responding to emergencies, giving speeches and hosting traditional, holiday-themed White House events. Last time I checked, none of those jobs require the person doing them to belong to any particular religious faith.

To further prove my point, here is a list of all of the presidents who have been Episcopalian:

George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, Chester A. Arthur, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush.

Of course, which presidents were great, which ones were mediocre, and which ones were terrible is entirely a matter of personal opinion, but I think most of us would agree that this list contains a spectrum of presidential quality. There is no correlation between which church our president goes to and how good he or she is at his or her job.

In fact, for all of the people who freak out at the thought of a president that isn’t a Christian, we’ve already had one. Thomas Jefferson was a “Deist”, someone who rejects religion but accepts the existence of some kind of “Supreme Being” or creator. He respected Jesus as a great philosopher, but rejected the idea that he was in any way divine.

Abraham Lincoln, the man we all celebrate as one of the greatest presidents of all, was so secretive about his religious beliefs that nobody is entirely sure what his faith was.

So, when I vote this year, there will be a whole lot on my mind. I will be thinking about the economy, the unemployment rate, the national debt, our foreign policy, and social issues. But the religions of the two candidates will not even enter my brain. That is a matter between them and their God.

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