July 5, 2018

Hearing About Mike Pence's God

Mike Pence wants you to know that he is a Christian
I've heard that Vice President Mike Pence is "a Christian, a conservative, a Republican, in that order." This is not some crazy Internet rumor but how Pence has described himself. These are things he wants you to know about him. I say good for him! I'm glad to hear that Pence has found three aspects of his identity of which he can take pride. If these things make him happy, more power to him. There's just one thing: I'm not interested in hearing about his god. In fact, I'm not interested in hearing about any gods from anyone who hold's his office.

I think we can all agree that Christians have the same right to free expression as the rest of us. They also have the right to practice their religion. That does not mean they should do so considering how silly it is, but it does mean they have the right to do so. I think we also understand that being elected to political office does not mean that someone loses these rights. Such a person does not magically cease to hold whatever religious (or other) beliefs they might have held prior to taking office. And so, I do not expect Pence to give up his religious beliefs or to refrain from expressing himself. What I do expect is that he (and every other elected official) refrain from promoting his preferred religion (or religiosity in general) from the office he holds.

If I decide that I'd like to hear about Mike Pence's god, I have a few options. I could easily find an evangelical fundamentalist Christian church. At last, a real benefit of living in Mississippi! I could go to this church and listen to the sermon. If I was too lazy to go to church, I could tune into one of the many TV channels that broadcasts local evangelical fundamentalist Christian church services every week. I could pick up one of my "holy" bibles and read almost any part of it. I could initiate a conversation with one of the many evangelical fundamentalist Christians I know. The point is, there are many ways I could hear more about Mike Pence's god if I decided that I'd like to do so.

I'm not interested in hearing about Mike Pence's god from Mike Pence. He is an elected official in a secular democracy, and he holds a position from which he is expected to represent all Americans, including those of us who did not vote for his party and who do not believe in his (or any other) god. Because of the position he holds, the expectation that he represents all of us, and the wall of separation of church and state many of us take quite seriously, I find it highly inappropriate that Mike Pence would use his office to promote religiosity in general or his specific religious beliefs in particular.