When Did “Good” Person Become Linked to “Faith”? February 6, 2009

When Did “Good” Person Become Linked to “Faith”?

***Update***: Transcript is below.

I don’t have time to transcribe it right now, but in case you missed it, Jon Stewart had a great conversation on The Daily Show last night where he talked about how “a person of faith” and “a good person” seem to have become linked in politics.

The consequence of this? Atheists won’t get elected president anytime soon.

You already knew that, but it’s useful to see someone else mentioning it, too:

A brief transcript:

Jon Stewart:… Do you think we could ever elect an atheist?… Now, we have a black president. Could an atheist — What will come first: black, woman, Hispanic, gay, Jew, Atheist? Where do you go?

Randall Balmer: I think, pretty much, in that order…

JS: [Laughs] I hope somebody wrote that down!

RB: And I think atheist is probably at the end. Because we Americans want to know about our candidates’ faith. What we really want to know is: Are they good people? Are they moral? Are they trustworthy?

JS: But when did “good person” get intricately linked to faith? Why can’t goodness be a virtue without fear of Biblical punishment or any of those other…

RB: Well, it certainly can. But in America… religion is a proxy for morality… the only way we can frame the question is ask, “Do you go to church?” “Are you a religious person?” And I think the problem is that we, as the voters, take those kind of blithe responses at face value and we should interrogate those claims…

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I think this quote sums it up perfectly:

    “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” — Steven Weinberg

  • I am a huge fan of Randall Balmer.

  • I actually just wrote about this a few days ago after attending a spiritual gifts class.

    I don’t mean to plug because I know it’s tacky, but it’s just so applicable in this situation.


  • luis

    Well, the jews should not be included in that list. The US has already had jewish presidents. Maybe they did not practice that faith, but Eisenhoward and Truman are jewish names!!! So, atheists in the US might be closer to have one of them (I am a Spanish atheist) sooner.

  • SarahH

    I heart Jon Stewart.

  • gribblethemunchkin

    This is so true and nothing illustrates this like some of the creeps elected to office that loudly proclaim their faith, such as Tom Delay, a more corrupt and wicked politician you’d be unlikely to meet. Tom broadcast his faith loudly and was widely supported by evangelicals and the christian right. At the same time he was gerrymandering, re-writing the way lobbyists work (and not for good either) and generally acting like king of the world.

    Its sad but i think its a situation that will only improve with time. The power of the christian right has been shattered by the democratic victories, atheists are making themselves known more and more often and with increased visibility will come increased acceptance as those with faith realise that those without aren’t wicked moral degenerates.

  • So it is the fault of lazy voters who are unwilling to explore the character of the person they are voting for? That’s very damning of American culture. Surely it isn’t as bad as that is it?

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