Religious controversies always result in more cruelty and irreconcilable hatred than those originating from any other source. ( George Washington, letter to sir Edward Newenham, June 22, 1792)
Reduce your enthusiasm for progressive candidates who mock your religious faith. This essay
explains why god speakers, however attractive they may be, will prove dangerous to the kind of nation that JFK envisioned:
I believe in an America where separation of church and state is absolute … where no religious body wants to impose its will directly or indirectly on the general population. (September 12, 1960 by the Greater Houston Ministerial Association)
Obviously, all advanced candidates are preferred by typical far-right, divisive fundamentalists such as Mike Huckabee, Mike Pence, or almost any Republican in Congress, the Supreme Court, or the office of Donald Trump. However, an advanced candidate who parades loudly on his religiosity, even though he checks all or most of the well-regarded liberal frameworks – gay, youthful, smart and well-educated, kind, attractive, witty, war veteran, maybe even vegan and so on – would still should be viewed skeptically as a likely risk to the preservation of the remnants of our secular Republic.
This is not an uncommon concern. Not to mention any mayor in the midwest who at the moment may seem almost too attractive to be true, concerns for pious believers should be assessed by enthusiasts for the sake of science, rationality and especially the strict separation of church and state. There seems to be extreme caution to those who claim that theology reports on their political views.
In some ways, secularists could be encouraged by an attractive Democratic presidential candidate who shows Christian piety, because the first thought might be that this increases his chances of election. We have seen instances where some devout liberal, such as an old man in a play Bye Bye Birdie, who looks perfect in every way, calls into question Trump's religion, a moralistic mockery of the hypocritical vice president for participating in it porn star presidency and employs biblical references to support his views. Unfortunately, the public interest in secular democracy is not sufficiently served by politicians debating who is a good Christian or number one believer. Who cares, or should worry? Have believers lead these discussions, if they are so inclined, but let them take place in churches and in religious households, rather than candidate forums or political campaigns.
Personally, I confess, I would prefer an attractive Democratic candidate who decorates his speeches with Christian arrogance above all as a strategy to win over segments of the religious right, than one who really believes in such nonsense. I never thought I'd adopt or at least adapt Barry Goldwater's infamous remark from the 1964 presidential campaign to justify such expediency (i.e. Extremism in defense of freedom is not a vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is not a virtue ). However, given the current circumstances of 2019, I do not have such a ban, so here is:
False piety in defense of liberty is not such a terrible vice, if done to prevent another term for Donald Trump. Speech that diminishes the supernatural but damages the chances of reason in government is not a virtue.
Expediency aside, here are some examples of the current rhetoric of an otherwise glowing candidate that triggers my theocratic sentiment of warning:
He said at a CNN City Hall meeting: It is my feeling that the Scripture speaks of protecting a stranger, a prisoner, and a poor person and that idea of welcome. This is what I get in the Gospel when I am in church.
In fact, I prefer someone who feels that way all the time, about everyone, not just when they read the Gospel and / or in church.
An otherwise ideal candidate has also criticized the vice president in a way that simply seems spiritually weird:
The Vice President's perspective has a lot more to do with sexuality and, I don't know, a particular outlook or correctness.
I find it challenging to link Pence to sexuality, especially given his over-developed focus on propriety, moral rectitude, and righteousness.
When a candidate shows quotations from the holy books and presents what he considers to be revealed wisdom from religious dogmas and teachings, the clear message is that his or her views in politics are informed, guided, or relied on spiritual or religious issues. This in turn adds to the widespread misconception and hopes of religious fundamentalists that America is a Christian people.
James Madison believed that religious slavery shackles and weakens the mind and sets it apart for every noble endeavor, every extended perspective.
I wonder if an otherwise attractive candidate would agree with either President Madison or President Kennedy's previously cited commitment to the absolute separation of church and state.
In a Washington Post article the other day, David Niose offered to take on an otherwise attractive presidential candidate:
There is a reason that progressors have over time reduced religion in their ranks – and we call that reason progress. Science and empiricism, along with values that recognize the dignity and value of all individuals, are considered legitimate grounds for progressive policy dialogue. (David Niose, Neither Mayor Pete Buttigieg nor progressive Christianity is anything to celebrate , at Hemant Mehta Friendly Atheist, April 21, 2019)
What America now needs is a candidate somewhat in the mold of Courtland Palmer, as described in Col. Robert Green Ingersoll's further funeral:
He explored for himself the issues, problems, and mysteries of life. Most were nothing to him. No mistake can be old enough, popular, credible, or profitable enough to back up his judgment or maintain peace. He believed in intellectual hospitality, in a good exchange of thoughts, in good mental manners, in the grace of the soul, in the chivalry of debate. He believed in the morality of the useful, that virtues are the friends of humanity, the seed of joy. He lived and worked for his fellow men.
Alas, neither George Washington, John F. Kennedy, James Madison, or Courtland Palmer are available, but there are many others who would advance a political agenda that held separate and distinct governmental affairs of all people from the harsh spiritual agendas of Christianity and other religions.