Should politicians be judged on their religious beliefs?

Posted: September 26, 2011 in Election, politics, Religion

In my mailbox last week I received a complimentary issue of a new magazine called The Week.  It’s nothing to get excited about, being mostly a Reader’s Digest type summary of news articles gleaned from other sources.  Kind of like this blog, but not nearly as interesting.

The cover story looked promising, though.  It had Perry and Bachman in a religious pose with the title, “Should politicians be judged on their religious beliefs?”  Disappointingly, the only story inside was a lame half page editorial which never really settled on a yes or no answer to this important and interesting question.

I’d like to put my opinion forward by saying that they absolutely should, when those religious beliefs either reveal a lot about them as personalities or when they will effect their political views.

I would not feel confident in the competence of a candidate whose religious beliefs asserted that the Earth was flat and the centre of the universe.  Their overt rejection of scientific fact would put them in the category of being unreliable to make sound decisions.  I would suggest that those who reject Evolution and are Young Earth Creationists are not much different from this.  Do we want to have someone with questionable intelligence and faculties for problem solving overseeing the decision making for education policies, not to mention medical standards, environmental issues and other scientific issues?  If they don’t understand the basic science, or if that understanding is clouded by religious beliefs, it is going to impact on their effectiveness as a leader.

Similarly, if a politician has strong religious beliefs affecting social issues, it is relevant to their possible performance as a leader.  Some religions, for example, promote a view of women which is negative and subservient to men.  Such an individual would be less likely to promote equal rights or equal funding initiatives.  Religions which have strong beliefs around sexual issues such as birth control, abortion or gender preference are going to try to institute policies that follow their beliefs.  As a result you get states where birth control information and basic sex education is discouraged, resulting in high teenage pregnancy rates.

What makes it even a greater issue of importance is that many religions believe that they are justified in forcing their standards on other people, even if the others are not religious or even if they are the majority.  Moral righteousness provides the permission to override democracy and impose moral standards on everyone.  This is a fundamental world view.  It is how some of these people see reality.

I think that the way that a person sees reality is certainly a consideration in judging them as suitable politicians.  That kind of judgment is very clearly what some candidates are depending on when they conspicuously attend church, or have prayer-ins, or claim that a hurricane is the work of an angry God.  They are hoping that they will be judged for their religious beliefs, by other religious people who feel kinship with them.  If they are going to act in ways to  enamor others to their cause, why should the opposite form of judgment not be justified?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s