Is It Bigotry To Not Vote for a Mormon? June 20, 2011

Is It Bigotry To Not Vote for a Mormon?

Last week, I was part of a religious roundtable discussion for the Chicago Tribune — they wanted people representing different faiths (and no faith) to talk with some staffers about the paper’s religious coverage.

At one point, we introduced ourselves, saying our name, who we represented, and the message we wanted to get across.

One of the people representing a let’s-all-get-along organization said as one of her goals (I’m paraphrasing): As this election season gets underway, I want to make sure people are not attacked for their religious faith.

She was suggesting that Mitt Romney‘s Mormonism, for example, shouldn’t be held against him. If you want to go after his policies, fine, but don’t attack his faith.

That sounds like a perfectly reasonable stance. The Constitution says we don’t have a religious test for public office, and people have the right to believe whatever nonsense they want. Maybe a couple years ago, I would’ve said the exact same thing.

The more I thought about it, though, the angrier I got…

So I spoke with her after the event was over. This is basically what I said:

Let’s say Mike Huckabee is running for president. He’s an Evangelical Christian. Because of that label, I already know certain things about him. I know where he stands in regards to evolution, and I can’t trust him to support good science. I know where he stands on abortion, and I can’t trust him to protect women’s rights. I know he believes homosexuality is immoral and I can’t trust him to fight for civil rights for the LGBT community. So, yes, knowing Mike Huckabee is an Evangelical Christian is all the information I need to make a decision about him. I don’t need to know the rest of his politics. I’m going to hold his faith against him by not voting for him.

(Remember when three Republicans raised their hands in a 2007 debate, admitting they don’t accept evolution?)

The same train of thought applies to Mitt Romney. There are plenty of reasons not to vote for him, but because he’s a devout Mormon, that means he accepts Mormon doctrine (if he doesn’t, I don’t recall him saying so). Because of that, I have to question his judgment. Is he really the person I want in charge of my country?

I know Barack Obama is openly Christian, but I trust him to separate church and state when necessary. It’s part of the reason I voted for him in 2008. In some cases, he’s let me down. But on certain issues, he’s stood against what we know as Christian doctrine.

Last year, I wrote this, and I still stand by it:

Do you really want a president who could launch a nuclear attack… who also believes he/she will be in “God’s glorious presence” in the afterlife?

Do you really want a president who can appoint important positions in the field of science like the head of the National Institutes of Health… who also believes the Earth was created about 6,000 years ago and that evolution is a lie?

Do you really want a president who has the power to veto legislation regarding women’s health care… who also believes abortion is equivalent to murder and that life begins at conception?

I wouldn’t feel comfortable voting for those people. It has nothing to do with the labels they give themselves and everything to do with what they will do with those beliefs. I want a president who makes decisions after hearing from experts on the issue, not after hanging up on a conference call with a group of pastors.

This is why I flinch when candidates use their faith as a reason to vote for them. I don’t really care if they belong to a church as much as I care how much they’re really guided by their religious beliefs.

I would hope the label “atheist” wouldn’t be used to prejudge a political candidate, but we know it happens, even though atheists have no “doctrine” to follow. To me, someone who calls herself an atheist is a person who looks at the evidence and acts rationally (instead of resorting to the supernatural). To most Americans, ignorant about what the word means, atheism is synonymous with having no morals or values.

Meredith Heagney makes that case in an article for The Columbus Dispatch:

… atheism is the worst “political handicap,” [assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Peter] Brown said.

That may be because of viewpoints such as the Rev. Mark Fuller’s. Pastor of Grove City Church of the Nazarene, an evangelical congregation, Fuller said he would vote for a Mormon or a Muslim before an atheist.

“This nation was built on Christian principles,” he said. With increasing secularism in our culture, “we’ve taken this thing a little too far (in) the other direction.”

Americans care about whether their president is religious because we use faith as a stand-in for morals or values, said Mark Caleb Smith, director of the Center for Political Studies at Cedarville University, an evangelical college east of Dayton in Greene County.

I don’t feel like a bigot for dismissing religious candidates. I’m not against them because of the religious label they use. It’s how serious they take those beliefs that worries me. Even if Obama is a Christian, he’s not someone who makes a big deal of it (unless he’s trying to win political points). The current crop of Republican candidates, on the other hand, include a lot of people who take pride in their faith and are guided by it… and that’s frightening.

Like Texas Governor Rick Perry.

On Friday, Bill Maher explained exactly why guys like him are not people we want in public office (2:13 mark):

… [Perry] also says ‘some problems are beyond our power to solve.’

What?! I thought we were the can-do people!

And if Perry thinks only god can solve our problems, why is he even in government? Why doesn’t he just stay at home and light a bunch of candles like Sissy Spacek’s mom in Carrie?

Here’s an opposing view: Not only are our problems not beyond our power to solve, they’re actually fairly easy to solve…

Right on. I don’t want a president who turns to god to solve our problems. I want a president smart enough to tackle our problems using rational means.

***Edit***: I forgot to mention the girl’s response to what I said. She nodded in agreement. I think she was thinking on a more superficial level, like someone saying “I’m not voting for Romney because he’s Mormon and for no other reason.” I’m against that, too.


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  • Brian Wood

    All’s you need to know about Mormons you’ll find by googling “mountain meadows massacre.” I’ll not vote for a mormon, a catholic, a protestant, a muslim, a hindu. I only vote for candidates whose religion I don’t know about. Once they say “god,” they’re off my list.

    Since our elections are the false dilemmas of a “two party system,” i don’t feel that I’m shirking my civic duty.

  • Larry Meredith

    I think if a candidate is boasting about their religious beliefs publicly and using as a selling point politically, they are absolutely opening themselves up to criticism on those religious beliefs. you can’t run a political campaign that has a basis on religious morality and then say it’s unfair to criticize those religious moral principals. Anything you as a candidate bring into your campaign is fair game to attack. If the candidate can leave their religious beliefs off the table in their political history and campaign, I can feel they are safe and reliable, that they can separate their religious beliefs from their political policies.
    (Btw, our Prime Minister here in Canada assigned an anti-evolutionist as the Minister of Science)

    To me, someone who calls herself an atheist is a person who looks at the evidence and acts rationally (instead of resorting to the supernatural)

    this lost me a bit though. That isn’t what an atheist is and you shouldn’t assume any of us are reasonable purely based on being atheist. The Black Atheists of Atlanta is just one recent example that show atheism is not synonymous with rationality.

  • I get the impression that Mitt is more of a politician and less of a Mormon. Of course, that doesn’t make the situation any better.

  • Larry Meredith

    I’m sad Hemant didn’t highlight the funniest part of that New Rules segment.
    Starting at 3:51:

    May I point out that there are no spiritual solutions to national problems. If that’s where we are as a country, if our official government policy is, “YEEHAW! Jesus take the wheel” then we’re dead already.

    This brought Chris Matthews to tears of laughter.

    It’s amazing that something so hilarious came from the same guy who, just earlier in the same episode, made the ridiculously childish punchline of ‘Governor Chris Christie? He should be Governor Fat Fatty!”
    *shakes head in embarrassment*

  • Anne

    “I don’t feel like a bigot for dismissing religious candidates. I’m not against them because of the religious label they use.”

    I think this is the key. It’s not “ohh eww a stinky Christian, I’ll get cooties if I vote for him.” It’s “oh right Christian, which means if he’s super devout he believes x, y, and z – all of which I don’t agree with.” There’s a big difference between the two.

    I don’t care what someone’s religious (or non-religious) tag is. If they’re going to use law to get into my pants and control my body because of their own morals, if they’re going to deny a person the right to marry their lover, if they’re going to say global warming is false because their imaginary friend said it wouldn’t destroy the world again… I don’t want them in power, period.

  • Claudia

    I don’t feel like a bigot for dismissing religious candidates.

    I don’t think you’re a bigot either, because it’s not actually true that you dismiss religious candidates. You voted for Obama and, assuming you’ve voted for anyone else in your life, you’ve likely voted for other religious candidates too.

    I think it is prejudice if you refuse to vote for someone based on their religious label but it’s not bigotry to refuse to vote for someone based on their beliefs and it’s crucial to understand the difference between one and the other.

    I think most would readily accept that someone who said “I would never vote for a Jew” is displaying anti-Semitism. However if you stated that “I would never vote for Issac Cohen for senator, because his Orthodox beliefs include that women should never hold positions of authority and that all work should be banned on the Sabbath” you’d be making a perfectly legitimate argument.

    Certainly the label you choose to associate yourself with will tell people something about you and can get people at least into the ballpark of your actual beliefs, but if you want to vote against someone with integrity and not mere bias, you should delve deeper into what they actually believe. I think it’s wrong to merely assume that someone calling themselves an “evangelical” will automatically be anti-science and also to assume that someone calling themselves atheist will be pro-science. We have the tools to find out about these things, particularly when it’s a presidential candidate, whose every word, spoken and written, is carefully recorded. Certainly “evangelical Christian” is a warning flag that warrants paying close attention to their views on womens rights, LGBT rights, science etc. However if you refuse to do the minimal work of a google search to find out their actual views, then you are acting on prejudice, which is wrong.

    Romney, incidentally, does accept evolution (or did, as of 2007), even if he thinks it’s “guided” by God, and opposes the teaching of ID, which makes (barely) acceptable for me on that front. Of course, he also wants to force women to have babies whether they want to or not (except with rape and incest, because I guess those fetuses don’t have souls?) so there’s more than enough reason not to vote for him without science.

  • Simon

    I think Kennedy said it best, and future candidates who are serious in their devotion to serving the nation would do just fine to say (and do!) the same:

    Whatever issue may come before me as President–on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject–I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

    But if the time should ever come–and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible–when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.

    Source: http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/ALL6YEBJMEKYGMCntnSCvg.aspx

  • Ubi Dubium

    For me it’s not about what their religion is, its their level of devotion to it. Since it’s almost impossible for an atheist to be elected, the next best in a candidate is one who is pretty apathetic about it, goes through the motions and thanks their “god” just enough to silence those who claim he/she is “non-religious”. If they’re a devout fanatic then I don’t want them, regardless of what sect they belong to.

  • Christophe Thill

    People shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their political views. So, in an election, let’s please keep the candidates’ political opinions out of the discussion !

    OK, I admit that it’s a little more complicated when it comes to religion. Why ? Because some religious opinions go with definite political attitudes, beliefs and programs, while others do not, or much less, and there are also individual differences.

    Concerning atheists, the only thing you can seriously deduce, in my opinion, is that such a candidate would very likely defend separation of church and state. Although you can never be sure.

  • Greg

    Of course it is not bigotry – you are not making your decision based upon what a person is labelled as, but rather what they believe.

    It is simple not to be bigoted, and yet make sweeping statements about people – we do it all the time about criminals (rapists, paedophiles, murderers etc. etc.). That’s because the label they are grouped together under requires that they have certain attributes that we disapprove of (namely they rape other people, rape children, or kill people).

    Before I am strawmanned to hell and back, note that I am not comparing religious believers to criminals. I am merely pointing out that it is possible to hold negative opinions about a group without being prejudiced.

    Similarly, one thing that all creationists must necessarily have in common is a disregard for, or lack of understanding of, the scientific method. Hence making a decision upon someone based upon these traits required to be a creationist is not bigotry.

    The word bigotry has been warped beyond all meaning by people who use it as an ad hominem. People have to stop being afraid to make rational decisions based upon what we know about a group of people by their label.

  • Larry Meredith

    @Greg
    Just a small off-topic correction I want to point out.

    It is simple not to be bigoted, and yet make sweeping statements about people – we do it all the time about criminals (rapists, paedophiles, murderers etc. etc.). That’s because the label they are grouped together under requires that they have certain attributes that we disapprove of (namely they rape other people, rape children, or kill people).

    It’s quite obvious to attribute murder and rape to murderers and rapists, but rape isn’t a required attribute of pedophiles. Now I don’t want to be labeled as a sympathizer of pedophiles, but I will point out that pedophilia is simply to have a sexual attraction to children 10 and under (11-14 is hebephilia, 15-19 is ephebophilia). Pedophiles may not all desire to hurt children. That’s a non sequitur logical fallacy.

  • As this election season gets underway, I want to make sure people are not attacked for their religious faith.

    The best way to ensure that this happens is for the candidates to leave their religious faith out of their politics. If they bring it up then it is fair game. We are under no obligation to respect someone’s religion and if they believe mad things then call them out on it. Don’t be edited or censored because “religion deserves respect”. It doesn’t.

    If they aren’t selling themselves on their religion then that would be unfair. Any bets that candidates will choose to remain silent about their faith?

  • Kingsaurus

    I agree with “level of devotion” being important.

    Whatever Romney says on the stump, the fact is that you barely noticed Romney was Mormon when he was governor of Massachusetts. At least I didn’t.

    The issue of anti-Mormon bigotry mostly comes up with evangelical right-wingers refusing to vote for Mormons. Atheists recognize this as ridiculous, because Mormonism (in the big picture) is no wackier than traditional Christian fundamentalism.

  • How can you call this blog FRIENDLY atheist? More and more, it becomes a discriminatory hate blog. If the US truly has separation of religion and state, then you truly shouldn’t give a damn about a public servant’s personal beliefs. In stead, you should hold them accountable to keep it separate from their state policies.

    Stop advertising this blog as the “friendly” stance of atheist. There’s nothing tolerant left on here anymore.

  • If the US truly has separation of religion and state, then you truly shouldn’t give a damn about a public servant’s personal beliefs. In stead, you should hold them accountable to keep it separate from their state policies.

    I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what he’s promoting in this post. He’s okay with Obama because Obama (largely) doesn’t let his beliefs interfere with his policies, but he’s not okay with Huckabee because of his positions on abortion, gay rights, and science. I’m not sure how you see any other intention here.

  • Nursejohio

    As we all know, church state separation is the *ideal*… Not quite the reality. How do we know this? The waging of war on women’s right and trying to eliminate the evils of abortion, plan B, and planned parenthood. Need more proof? How about the fact that, because of people voting in accordance to what they think their invisible friend would want, even if I marry my girlfriend in Boston, when we get home our marriage will be as good as nonexistent.

    So yes, the religious beliefs of a candidate DO matter when they try to legislate their holy doctrine onto everyone else!

  • Claudia

    If the US truly has separation of religion and state, then you truly shouldn’t give a damn about a public servant’s personal beliefs.

    Sorry what? Since when does being “friendly” mean that beliefs are off limits? So if you know that a candidate personally believes that the Holocaust never happened and that it’s historical evidence is a vast Jewish conspiracy, that life begins at gametogenesis and therefore masturbation is mass genocide (and thus should be illegal and subject to the death penalty) and that the very best form of medicine is homeopathy and therefore perscription drugs for seniors should be substituted by the (much cheaper) “homeopathic remedies” (i.e: water), then it’s “unfriendly” to give a damn about this?

    Sorry no, personal beliefs do matter. What is true is that a person who will explicitly state that their religious beliefs will have little or no bearing on their policy positions is an entirely different creature from one that does not. Conveniently enough, candidates who are willing to state that their personal religious beliefs are separate from their policy positions and decisions are also those most likely to have mostly benign religious beliefs in the first place. The more explicitly linked personal religion and policy is linked in a politician the more those views should rightfully weigh on our choice and incidentally the more likely they are to be crazy not-ok shit like being gay is a choice or “Intelligent” design should be in biology class.

  • It seems that Republicans don’t like having their faith mocked.

    if former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney were to become president, he would have his “first lady, second lady, third lady”. The Mormon church outlawed polygamy in the 19th Century.

  • Larry Meredith

    @hoverfrog
    Maybe if he just married his first cousin it would be better? Since that’s legal in many states right? lol

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    Jimmy Carter was famously Christian. Ronald Reagan less so. Based on their positions I would have voted for the former over the latter if I had been given the opportunity (and even given Carter’s relative ineffectiveness). Almost everyone believes in some kind of stupid shit. Even atheists. It’s what they present to be the foundation of their policy positions that determines whether or not I vote for them.

  • Methodissed

    He’s not just a Mormon – he’s a moron!

    If he were a liberal Mormon who wasn’t a puppet for Corporate America and the elite power structure, I’d vote for him in a second.

    Good luck finding any candidate who’s not getting greased by the good ‘ol boys.

    Our democracy is but a name. We vote. What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real — though not avowed — autocrats. We choose between ‘Tweedledum’ and ‘Tweedledee’. – Helen Keller

  • MamaGump

    It’s not bigotry to vote against a bigot, it’s bigotry to vote FOR him.

  • Chris aka “Happy Cat”

    I’d guess that every American atheist who votes has voted for a candidate who is, at least, nominally Christian. Democrats rarely make an issue about it.

    It’s the Republican Party that has set itself up as the Party of Jesus and unofficially enacted a religious test for office. We see how that is playing out. I don’t think it is bigoted or unfair to use that (and the views that follow) in deciding who is the best candidate. It’s not like the candidates themselves are hesitant to proclaim fidelity to their dogma publicly.

    That said, I do view Romney in a similar light to Obama. Barry used his beliefs to justify his opposition to marriage equality, but now we found out he signed a 1996 questionnaire supporting it. He has waffled as to whether or not he actually signed it, which has upset his LGBT supporters. Apparently he will use religious belief to support a decision that is expedient for his career. Surprise.

    It boils down to the extent they’re willing to use their religion to serve their agendas. I don’t trust Romney (or Obama), but he seems less volatile than the likes of Bachmann and Frothy Mix.

  • John Small Berries

    So I spoke with her after the event was over. This is basically what I said:

    So what was her response? Did she understand where you were coming from, and did it make any difference to her position?

    (Hemant says: Sorry I didn’t mention that in the post. She nodded in agreement to what I said. I think she was thinking on a more superficial level, like someone saying “I’m not voting for Romney because he’s Mormon and for no other reason.”)

  • Carlie

    If the US truly has separation of religion and state, then you truly shouldn’t give a damn about a public servant’s personal beliefs. In stead, you should hold them accountable to keep it separate from their state policies.

    If it truly had separation of religion and state, then we wouldn’t see so many politicians going down over sex scandals, would we? We’d trust that everyone could keep their personal beliefs separate from their state policies and their opinions on the personal lives of others. So I assume that means you don’t bat an eye when a politician has a sex scandal, Modern Girl?

  • beckster

    I’d vote for a Mormon, but not a Republican.

    Harry Reid is Mormon and he’s all right. Not great, but I would vote for him over any Republican.

  • Steve

    The French do this far better. Their “laïcité” is much stricter than Separation of Church and State in the US.

    It’s a pretty conservative country and many politicians are at least nominally influenced by a Christian value system, but it’s almost unheard of for them to bring up religion in public. That’s strongly discouraged and when they do they are usually criticized for it.

  • @Steve, in the UK we have no separation of church and state but public declarations of religiosity are generally greeted with derisive groans. No politician wants to be known as a “nutter” (as Alastair Campbell once explained). Not on top of being a crook and a pervert as well. Two out of three is the absolute limit.

  • ACN

    So I spoke with her after the event was over. This is basically what I said:

    What was her response? I thought what you said was spot on, but I’d be intrigued to hear how the rest of the conversation went.

  • I would make the argument that atheists should be working to actively support the campaign of Gary Johnson on the GOP side. While he is a christian, he has continually stated that he doesn’t believe God should be brought into the Republican debates at all. He is of the opinion that evolution is science and his is probably the closest thing to a “skeptic” that this country has seen running for president in a long, long time.

    Also, he takes the opposite stance of Evangelical Christians on just about every social issue out there.

  • Kevin S.

    Yeah, I don’t think I’d vote against Huckabee just for being an Evangelical Christian, I’d vote against him because he’s running on being an evangelical Christian. Mitt Romney is running on his record, and therefore I think it’s fair to judge him on that, not on the official positions of the LDS church.

  • There are plenty of reasons not to vote for him, but because he’s a devout Mormon, that means he accepts Mormon doctrine

    Jon Huntsman is a Mormon, but he’s okay with same-sex civil unions and has made the opinion public.

    I know Barack Obama is openly Christian, but I trust him to separate church and state when necessary.

    Barack Obama is okay with same-sex civil unions, but because of his inability to separate his religious beliefs from his job as President, he is unwilling to support gay marriage.

    A theist is a theist is a theist. The fact that Huntsman and Romney believe in an extra, more recent book of scriptures doesn’t make them any worse than the troglodytes we have running our country now.

  • Nordog

    I think it wrong to consider it bigotry if one chooses not to vote for a Mormon (or Catholic, Hindu, etc.) if one disagrees with Mormonism, Catholicism, whatever. The individual voter in question may well be bigoted regarding these groups, but elections are about advancing ideas into actuality. If you disagree with a candidate’s fundamental ideals, then why would you vote for that candidate?

    Perhaps those ideals are not really germain to the election and the public issues at hand, but the ideals should reveal how a candidate will approach the office.

    If I were an atheist and I thought a candidate wanted to codify into law aspects of a theology qua theology, then it would be entirely appropriate not to vote for that candidate if I saw fit.

    Come to think of it, I wouldn’t vote for any candidate that wanted to codify my own theology qua theology into law.

    But if I agreed with a candidate on all the issues, but wouldn’t vote for that candidate because of sex, race, creed, etc., then that would certainly be knocking at the door of bigotry imo.

  • John

    I really wish you had said that to her during the event. The Tribune’s political coverage is always right leaning, and they are looking for an angle with this passel of wing nut candidates. This rot about not attacking candidates for their religious views will be shoved down the throats of Chicagoans and Illinoisans ad nauseam, as the Trib desperately tries to push its conservative agenda. Fortunately, however, Chicagoans seriously do not pay the papers politics much attention except to assail it when it’s absurd.

  • Brian Wood

    It is bigotry to discriminate against people on the basis of things they cannot change. Religious belief is not one of those things. The religious have chosen faith over reason, and I’ll not vote for people like that, especially since most of them wish to impose their idiocies on the rest of us. Obama tries, like all the others, to impose, for example, the national day of prayer, and when the most powerful man in the world (our elected master,but still our master) suggests things…

  • Rich Wilson

    I don’t care what religion someone is. If they think:

    there’s any controversy over the fact that all life evolved from a common ancestor

    that humans are largely responsible for the warming of our climate

    that not everything in the universe revolves directly around the earth

    that water can remember what was in it

    that the positions of the sun, moon, and planets relative to earth at the time of your birth mean anything

    that the piece of paper in your cookie at dinner will help you win a lottery

    Then they lack the critical thinking skills to be president. End of story. I don’t write them off when they mention their religion. I write them off when they open their mouths and spout holy-book-as-literal-truth.

  • If we ask the supers of the world if they think it’s bigotry to not vote for atheists, the more insightful ones might realize that it is. But the average super voter (particularly if they are right-of-centre in the States) won’t come to this realization because they don’t trust atheists. Even if they’ve never met one, they know that our ethics are different than their ethics. Since humans like other humans that are like ourselves, any atheist political candidate automatically has a smaller voter base.

    I think the comments have brought up all the worthwhile points, especially the concept that atheists already have to vote for candidates who, intellectually, we disagree with. So it becomes a choice of who do we least disagree with. Back in 2000 Americans had to choose between two self-declared born-again Christians. As an atheist, I felt that the least-stupid decision was to vote for the Christian who respected science. Ditto for 2004, and 2008, and 2012…

  • Rich Wilson, you meant to say
    that humans are not largely responsible for the warming of our climate

  • Nordog

    Rich,

    I think you may want to parse a few of the statements in your last post; e.g. I think you meant to write that if someone thinks everything in the universe revolves directly around the Earth then the lack the…etc.

    Also, I don’t even know to what “that water can remember…” refers. What’s that about? Are there people who believe water knows what it contains?

  • Siamang

    Jimmy Carter was an evangelical Christian. So it’s not so much the label as the person.

    Listen, Mike Huckabee is an ultra-right wing *republican*. So I know his stance on choice, science, the environment, etc.

    It’s only bigotry not to vote for a Mormon *IF* you agree with them on the issues. If a candidate was one I’d normally vote for, except that they have a particular religion, then, yes.

    But, I mean, really, were you going to vote for ANY of the Republicans? Is it REALLY his Mormonism affecting your choice?

    Myself, I don’t care. If there was a great candidate of whatever religion, I’d vote for them, and do. I guess as an atheist, I’m probably less bigoted against any particular religion. I see them as mostly the same.

  • Siamang

    Also, I don’t even know to what “that water can remember…” refers. What’s that about? Are there people who believe water knows what it contains?

    Homeopaths.

  • Steve

    @Nordog
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_memory

    It’s related to homeopathy to explain how astronomical dilutions – where not a single molecule of the original substance is left – could work

  • How can you call this blog FRIENDLY atheist? More and more, it becomes a discriminatory hate blog. If the US truly has separation of religion and state, then you truly shouldn’t give a damn about a public servant’s personal beliefs. In stead, you should hold them accountable to keep it separate from their state policies.

    Friendly =/= giving any beliefs a pass without criticism or analysis.

    As other posters have said, the moment a candidate brings up his or her religious and/or personal beliefs as qualifications for the office he or she is running for, that puts those beliefs on the table and opens them up to warranted criticism and questions as to how those beliefs would affect his or her time and decisions in office. In which case, absolutely we as voters should give a damn about a candidate’s or public servant’s personal beliefs – if a candidate or public servant can’t convincingly state that said personal beliefs wouldn’t influence his or her decisions in office (or as MANY right wing candidates have done so, state explicitly that his or her personal religious beliefs guide decisions made in political office), then that’s a legitimate reason not to vote for a candidate if you really and truly believe in separation of Church and State.

    Yes, civil servants should be held accountable to maintain that separation once in office, but it’s far easier to elect someone to office who ALREADY respects that separation than attempt to rein in someone who begrudgingly accepts it but still looks for ways to weasel around it – or just blatantly stomps all over it (yes, Rick Perry, I’m looking at you).

  • Nordog

    Oh my, water memory. Okay, that’s weird.

  • Rich Wilson

    @many
    Ya, I mucked up several of those. The hurrier I got the behinder I get. But you got the idea 🙂

  • Lindsey A. S.

    If I absolutely had to vote for a republican, I would vote for Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman in a second over every other republican candidate. Did you witness the last gathering of republican presidential hopefuls? I’ve never seen so much stupid in one place in my life. Unlike the Utah legislature, who make most of their decisions based on what the LDS church thinks of a policy, I think Romney or Huntsman are the most likely not to cater to their churches while in office. But thats only if I had to vote republican, I still disagree with them over far too many things to willingly choose them over a liberal candidate unless that candidate is a complete moron.

  • Bigotry is holding prejudices against a person based on characteristics she cannot change, like skin color. There are certain rights that must not be abrogated regardless of beliefs, like access to housing — but those beliefs aren’t related to need for housing.

    There is no right to be elected to political office (there is a right to run, not win). If the electorate should deem your beliefs to make you unworthy to hold office, then that’s their right. That’s not bigotry.

    As an analogy, if X’s religion says that taxes are forbidden by Thor, is it bigotry to say that X cannot be employed as an IRS agent whose job it is to get people to pay their taxes? Clearly, that’s not bigotry.

    Your beliefs can be right or wrong, and you can be held accountable for them. I think we should generally avoid judging people on their beliefs when their beliefs are irrelevant to whatever issue is in question; but when the issue is whether a person can be a rational decision-maker, then I think that religious beliefs are perfectly relevant.

  • Daniel

    Like Christian claims about Adam and Eve, Mormon claims that the Native Americans came to North American around 600 BCE are provably false on genetic grounds. I wouldn’t trust the judgment of anyone who believes a religion as blatantly fabricated as Mormonism.

    I feel OK voting for Obama because I’m certain that Obama is secretly an atheist who pretends to be a Christian for appearances sake. There is no way that a smart guy who was raised in a secular household who almost never goes to church is a Christian.

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/obama-is-an-atheist/

  • There is no way that a smart guy who was raised in a secular household who almost never goes to church is a Christian.

    Sure there is. Don’t forget just how secular some Christians are.

  • The Captain

    This has been a rather big push around the net as of late. Mormons have been hitting a lot of sites, and news editorial pages pushing the “it’s bigoted to not vote for a mormon” meme. The really fun part though is asking these same devout mormons who think people not voting for a mormon is bigoted, if they themselves would ever vote for an atheist. You then get to let the hypocritical fun begin!

  • littlejohn

    Isn’t anyone here old enough to remember the Carter presidency? Carter was and is a devout Southern Baptist. He is also a nuclear engineer.
    He was not hostile to science (he installed solar panels on the White House, which Reagan, of course, tore down).
    He currently supports gay rights (not a big issue during his presidency).
    Don’t assume too much about religious affiliation.

  • HP

    If the Mormons want to come after my “hot drinks,” they’ll have to pry them from my moist, trembling hands.

  • Saltyestelle

    “when the issue is whether a person can be a rational decision-maker, then I think that religious beliefs are perfectly relevant.”

    Absolutely. I would not vote for a fundamentalist of any stripe, because they clearly lack critical thinking skills.

  • Brian Wood

    I would not argue that all theists are disgusting humans, but I would argue that belief in a god of any sort proves they have abandoned reason in that area, and I don’t vote for irrational people.

  • Rich Wilson

    @littlejohn
    I don’t think Carter is still a devout Southern Baptist. He’s Southern, and Baptist, but he severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000

    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/10/21/us/carter-sadly-turns-back-on-national-baptist-body.html

    Not that it matters much. He’s still a devout Christian who prays several times a day. I agree with your point. Being a Thorist doesn’t in and of itself preclude one from office; just the belief that one can make thunder storms go away by making their god happy.

  • Daniel

    @Mike the Infidel

    Obama’s mother wasn’t a Christian. Disputes vary as to whether she was an atheist or agnostic. She raised her children with an education in comparative religion, but it certainly wasn’t the sort of upbringing which would make someone a believing Christian. Obama’s story is that he became a Christian as an adult. This just happened to be when he was on the South Side of Chicago in an environment that required being a Christian for social respectability. Everything about the story suggests that Obama is a closet atheist.

  • Michael Ranere

    If you are voting for or against someone solely based on their religion, you are doing it wrong.

  • Greg

    @Larry Merdeith – point taken, I was sloppy with my wording, and didn’t read over it.

    @Modern Girl – I quite agree; also, in a similar vein, how can Hemant be called the ‘Friendly Atheist’ when he doesn’t play tiddlywinks? (Apologies to Hemant if he does… :P)

  • you folks should check out Damon Linker’s “The Religious Test” and he urges us to QUESTION the beliefs of our leaders. he pretty much elaborates what mehta says in this piece.

  • Revyloution

    Honestly Hemant, I think your’e not looking at his politics and only at his religion. As governor of Massachusetts, he defended the right to have an abortion, created a public health care system, banned assault rifles, raised taxes to pay for services, increased state spending on low income housing in urban centers, raised the minimum wage, and even supported regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. In any other state, he would have been called a democrat.

    Sure, I disagree on his stance on same sex marriage, and I think his religion is a sham. Of all the candidates currently running, he is the only republican I would vote for. If Obama fails a second term, I really hope that Romney gets the job.

    I’m still voting for Obama, despite all of the letdowns from his administration. If we do have Romney for President, I won’t be packing my bags for Canada.

  • ff42

    One way to look at it is if Mitt is nominated GOP then every dark corner of Mormonism will be exposed to show what a crazy belief it is.

    Another (albeit) pessimistic way to look at it: If you believe the country / government / economy is going to hell in a hand-basket and WILL implode in the next president’s term, who would you like holding the bag?

  • Earl

    Holly Near said it best “I aint afraid of your Yahweh (God), I am afraid of what you do in the name of your god”

  • Let’s say Mike Huckabee is running for president. He’s an Evangelical Christian. Because of that label, I already know certain things about him.

    It’s not the label, though. There are liberal evangelical Christians. Huckabee may be a Southern Baptist, but we’ve also had progressive Southern Baptists in office, like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Same label, but different political beliefs. The label itself doesn’t necessarily tell you where the person stands on matters of public policy.

  • Flah the Heretic Methodist

    I’ve thought quite a bit about this question, and am influenced by my weekend: we stayed in a Marriott. The consensus was that although our money is going to the Mormon church, the Marriott chain as a whole run a good business and keep their places relentlessly clean. So from a strictly hotel perspective, I have no problem with Mormons.

    Likewise with politics. If someone proves to be a sound leader with reasonable positions on the issues that are important to me, I don’t think I care what church they subscribe to. However, if they are using their position to further their religious beliefs: oppression of a group, no meat on Fridays, death to the infidels, or magic underwear for all, I would have a problem with that.

    Separating the person from their religious beliefs is a tricky business, especially in a country where politics and religion are screwing each other daily.

  • Simply Me

    No, this “cursed, dark-skinned person” will not vote for a Mormon. No, No, No, No, No. Not by the skin of my dark chinny-chin.

  • jfisher

    I have a question: I am Mormon. But I am a democrat, I believe in evolution, I am pro-choice when it comes to abortion, and I believe in Gay rights. If I were running, would you vote for me? It seems as if these are many of the problems people have with voting for a Mormon. If there was a Mormon who was all said things, and they were definitely the best candidate for the job, wouldn’t it then be bigotry if someone wouldn’t vote for them because they are a Mormon?