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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 12,151

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Religious belief is as germane to politics as religious groups cause it to be.

JFK took great pains to talk about the fact that his religious beliefs wouldn't be the basis of his decisions as President. This was of course because Catholicism is not the preferred American brand of Christianity, and his opponents raised the specter of him taking orders from the Vatican.

But our politicians seldom make that distinction anymore. A lot of them argue the opposite -- from Huckabee saying that the Bible takes precedence over the Constitution, to Santorum promising to drag us back to the good ole 1500's. I think Obama has expressed secularist restraint, but carefully, because of the huge Evangelical drumbeat we have now insisting that we are a "Christian nation."

What is Romney's take on this? Doesn't he hold some kind of rank in the Mormon Church? Is it not more likely than not that LDS leaders have his ear? And the Mormons don't stay out of politics either. They have proudly been a huge influence in stifling gay rights. How would be unreasonable to question the political influence of a religious organization with explicit, extreme views that is ALSO heavily active in trying to influence American law?

It is and always should be fair to question whether a candidate's ties to a politically active organization impact his or her positions. If religious groups want to be left out of the political limelight, they need to actually ... stay out of the political limelight. Can't have it both ways.

Moreover, as religious groups in American politics become more openly fundamentalist, and continue to demand an influence on policy, it's fair to question those beliefs themselves. LDS, like other fundamentalist groups, doesn't tolerate metaphorical or theoretical views of religious doctrine. It insists that bizarre, supernatural occurrences and rituals are literally true, and literally required by "God," to the point where defying the church can lead to complete ostracizing from all other church members, including family.

We always give these beliefs a pass, somehow, because of a cultural preference for the dominant religions. But we wouldn't consider for a moment a political candidate from some non-preferred sect who believed in some OTHER magic plates or some other virgin birth or some other sacred undergarments. We'd question their sanity and their judgment and laugh them off the national stage.

So which is it? Do we want candidates who put religious thinking first, including magical beliefs and ancient thoughts on what constitutes moral behavior, or are we going to insist that whomever we appoint to lead will please remember that we are a nation of secular laws, not supernatural beliefs?

Candidates for office have a choice. They can declare that they put secular law first, period, in which case their spiritual beliefs are irrelevant. Or they can claim their beliefs or their church are part of their qualifications, or try to fudge the issue (as Romney seems to be attempting) in which case those beliefs and those churches ought to be examined under the same microscope as the rest of their personality.

There is a saying about character being revealed in how we treat

those from whom we have the least to gain and the least to fear.

We know what Romney will say or do when political victory is the goal -- anything. From pro-choice to "fertilized eggs are people," if you've got something he wants, he'll follow you anywhere, smiling and ingratiating. But when he can't be threatened or punished, he inflicts pain on those in no position to fight back. Thinks it's his right. Finds it amusing.

There's something, too, about our political philosophies. The Ryans and Romneys of the world argue we should gauge the quality of our country by how well we treat the rich and powerful, not by how we treat the disenfranchised, poor, and powerless. Better that 200 millionaires don't pay a penny more in taxes than a million children have an education. If dogs don't to be strapped to roofs with their stomachs imploding, they should go to Harvard Business school, make some contacts.

There's something insidious and cold in this man's gaze. He's worse than the feckless boob he appears.
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