Election ’08: Does religion matter?
Hard to believe it’s already been four months since three Republican candidates declared they don’t believe in evolution and instantly took themselves out of the running as far as I’m concerned. Brownback, Tancredo, and Huckabee. I don’t know what startled me more, their admission or my shock.
I’d always thought I was a reasonable, open-minded person, willing to listen to all sides, and willing to ignore a candidate’s personal, private religious beliefs and instead concentrate on his qualifications for office. I discovered the depths of my own prejudice (beliefs?) when those three presidential candidates, in a public forum, raised their hands to indicate they do not believe in evolution. I had just assumed (always a bad thing) that all the candidates were educated enough to believe in something as basic as evolution. Imagine a creationist as president! The mind boggles.
I’m old enough to remember when Jack Kennedy ran for office, and his Catholicism was such an issue. I don’t recall that it was ever an issue during his presidency. Nor do I recall any subsequent president letting his religion become a public issue… until George W. Bush was elected.
In the wake of 9/11, he went to services at the National Cathedral and rallied the nation to the strains of “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” The implications frightened me, as I’ve written elsewhere. We’ve also seen him implement “faith-based initiatives,” which I’ve always seen as just a way to use my tax money to fund things that the churches themselves should be paying for. (Churches should pay for their own undertakings. What ever happened to separation of church and state?)
And who hasn’t heard Bush declare his faith in and reliance on a “higher power.” All that does is frighten me and cause me to wonder, for the umpteenth time, if he really has the real-world understanding that I want my president to have. I respect any president’s right to practice his personal religion in private. But I cannot abide an elected official handing off his responsibility and judgment to some “higher power.” We elect a president, not his god, to run our country. (Of course some would argue Bush thinks he is a god, but that’s a topic for another time.)
Bottom line, you can bet I’m not going to vote for anyone, from either party, until I have thoroughly examined his or her positions on everything, including religion.