When Political Candidates Talk About Their Faith

boy watching the ocean

Atheists, do you find it off-putting when a politician running for office talks about his or her religious beliefs? Does it bug you when it crosses into pandering, or do you just tell yourself that the candidate is doing what is necessary to appeal to religious voters? I find it off-putting, but I don't want to make the mistake of assuming that most other atheists do as well. I've seen more than a few atheists defending politicians who do this, and so I suspect that some might be okay with it.

What I am still trying to figure out for myself is whether I think it is worse when a genuinely devout politician talks about faith vs. one who probably doesn't believe much of what he or she is saying and is merely pandering for religious votes. The truly religious politician is more genuine in the sense that he or she is telling us about actual beliefs. This puts us in a better position to make an informed decision about whether we can stomach the thought of voting for someone with these beliefs, and I do appreciate that. On the other hand, the candidate who is mostly pandering may not be nearly as religious as he or she wants us to think. That could mean that such a candidate would be less likely to govern from a religious perspective.

I suppose almost all political candidates are guilty of pandering to some degree. Their message seems to change depending on their audience. Some are more guilty of this than others, though. And some are occasionally willing to stick to their principles even when faced with an audience who would like them to say something else.

As for the question of political candidates talking about their religious beliefs, some do this far more than others. I don't care for it, as I'd much rather have secular governance. After all, it is extremely depressing to think that anybody could actually believe that religious nonsense today. It is tough to imagine why we would want to put someone who did so in charge.

In the end, I think I'd almost prefer a candidate who was pandering to the religious over one who truly believed. I could understand pandering as an advantageous political tactic for a candidate running for office in a predominately religious country easier than I could understand believing in gods.