September 14, 2008

Christian Politicians

I've encountered more than a few Christians who are convinced that we atheists would like to see a religious test for office that would disqualify any theist from holding office. I suppose it is possible that some atheists feel this way, but I certainly do not. I'm far more interested in doing what the Constitution says we're supposed to. In fact, I have no problem whatsoever with voting for Christian politicians. The problem I have is with those who cannot keep their religious beliefs out of their political decision-making, especially if they are deluded to the point of thinking that they are on some sort of mission from a supernatural entity. Such a delusion should in fact keep people out of office because it renders them unfit to uphold the Constitution.

Sure, I would love to see more atheist politicians. However, I say this not because I necessarily think they would be better leaders but because their presence would help to end anti-atheist bigotry. I have no reason to believe that an average atheist would be a superior politician than an average Christian. The only issue I have with voting for Christian politicians is that I tire of them being my only choice.

The sort of delusion involving a politician believing that his or her acts are divinely inspired absolutely should disqualify one from office. It should have disqualified Bush, and it should disqualify Palin. How can the rest of us possibly expect a leader to listen to his or her constituency when the leader is receiving orders from some god? We can't. Such a leader has no intent of representing anyone. He or she is trapped in the grips of a grandiose delusion.

I recognize that there is a certain gray area inherent in the question of whether one can keep one's religious beliefs out of one's political decision-making. Clearly, the politician must realize that he or she is supposed to represent all citizens and not simply the Christians. In addition, the politician must understand and agree to uphold what the Constitution actually says and not what Christian extremists wish it said. Still, I think there is some room for religiously-derived beliefs and values to shape the manner in which one leads. It is not realistic to expect that a Christian politician leave his or her religion at the door completely. I'm not even sure that would be possible.

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