Cory Farley, voted "Best of Reno" 26 times in 27 years by readers of his column in the Reno Gazette-Journal, takes an unconventional look at topics from presidential elections to the best way to cook Brussels sprouts.

Location: Verdi, Nev, United States

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Why CAN'T we talk about religion?

Discussions of religion in politics generally are conducted quietly in the United States because it's considered inappropriate to notice, except among bedrock fundy Christians. In that group, it's almost the only thing they do notice, but they're so wrapped in self-righteousness it never occurs to them it's not OK.
About the only time that rule gets broken is when the candidate himself brings up his faith. Kennedy did it in the '60s with Catholicism, and Mitt Romney did it this year, though he managed to give an entire speech about his beliefs almost without uttering the word "Mormon."
I wonder, though, why we aren't more open about this.
Full disclosure: I'm a devout doubter. I don't actively disbelieve--I have prayed in foxholes, imploring the Lord (or whoever was listening) to spare me at the same time I was trying to scratch down another couple of inches with my fingernails. I've prayed in hospitals, and likely will again.
In my heart and in my head, though, I don't believe my prayers helped. God (or whomever) presumably knew where I was and knew my circumstances. It seems vaguely insulting to remind him ("Father, you know there are 117 of us in this airplane . . ."), and in any case I can't think of a single reason a sensible deity should have spared me and turned his back on so many of stronger faith. Either I was the Chosen One, which no one has believed since my mother died, or it was pure chance.
We, ah, seem to have digressed.
My point (for all I can remember, way down here) is that religion is not only a legitimate thing to consider in casting a vote, it's a necessary one. Of course each of us should be free to worship as we choose and to follow the god we see--but if someone's beliefs run contrary to yours in any area, including religion, what's the point in pretending they don't?
Faith is a major factor, often the most important factor, in many people's lives, so why should we ignore that? I won't vote for a person who's shown a disregard for the environment, or one who wants to make abortion illegal, or one who doesn't see the importance of funding education even if it means raising my taxes. Others may disagree with my positions in those areas, but no one would question my right to consider them in casting my ballot.
Religion, for many people, is a far more powerful force than any of those. Why should it be off limits?


Blogger Sharon said...

You know how in a football game, the quarterback throws the ball way down field and they call that play a Hail Mary? I think that's how I feel about religion in politics. My religion? I've got one and I don't feel like it's a long ball down field and I don't feel much affinity towards our current quarterback. Sometimes I wonder if it's the same game~

10:42 PM  
Blogger dwoods48 said...

You are 100% , Correct on this in my Humble Opinion.. But Shouldn't we be able to talk about our differences without, Yelling and screaming ,name calling , and blowing Each other Up...

I would endorse any Candidate for Office , who " Really "wanted to Help the rest of Us live our lives in Peace and Harmony ...

We seem to have a new category this year "The Anti Candidate". have We really just come to the Point Where all we have is the lesser of many Evils....

Benizer Bhutto comes to mind, Woops too late....

4:58 AM  
Blogger tuzoner said...

First things first: I am not the anti-Christ contrary to popular belief.

I recently saw the movie "Da Vinci Code" on DVD without knowing much about the movie and not having read the book from which it was based.

The ending really struck a chord with me: A non-believer discovered she was the last direct descendant of Christ.

Her dilemma: Explain to others that had protected and sheltered her for many years knowing this fact and reveal her true feelings about religion and pull the rug from under those that do or respect others beliefs even though they may seem misguided in the desire to promote a greater social good?

The really big question from the movie is this: What do we really know about any god based on real evidence?

And to digress just a bit: What would we think if someone ran for POTUS that followed Ron L. Hubbard's teachings (that would be Scientology)?

Maybe you should read about how Pascal (philosopher and mathematician) stood up to the church - which was almost unheard of in his time - regarding his insistence that belief belongs with the church and science must be separate if human progress is to advance. The church was not amused.

Which brings us full circle to the question Cory's blog topic considers: Should ones religion be a factor in political life?

My short answer is no. More specifically: There's already too much religion infused into government much to our collective detriment.

When the last time you've heard any of the brave political souls on the campaign trail suggest the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are of a religious nature to rid the source of evil known to us as Al Quesida?

After all, how many innocent civilians have we killed and maimed in the name of our God?

7:09 AM  
Blogger Pogonip said...

It is important to know a candidate's position on religion because we have separation of church and state, and a candidate who wants to institute a theocracy is not a candidate we want in office.

It is one thing for an individual to attribute his morals and ethics to his religious convictions, but a totally different issue if he wishes to impose his religious convictions on others. A candidate who strongly holds that his is the one true faith is not a viable candidate for this country.

Belief or disbelief is a private matter, but when a person wants to hold public office, if his personal, private beliefs will substantially affect his public actions, we need to avoid that person.

11:51 AM  
Blogger mike said...

Of course the talk of religion should be acceptable. More specifically, how each candidate feels. You can then look back at their records and see if there is any blatant religious bent in decisions made. Then you too can figure if this person is worthy of your vote.

11:56 AM  
Blogger EidolaC said...

After King George I believe that knowing ones religious ideals is very important. Other than that I have learned that when someone mentions religious, Jesus, or God that they are most likely ready to save my soul. The state of my soul is between me and my God and is the business of no one else. Except for the ones that want to throw bombs at me, acceptance of every religion is paramount in healing the discord that we have sown among nations.EidolC

1:05 PM  
Blogger Skyshrink said...

By coincidence, I re-read the Constitution/Amendments the other day. Not a whiff of religion in the entire document except for a prohibition against a religious test for any office, and the oft-quoted admonition to Congress not to pass any law that would abridge freedom of religion. Otherwise, the document is SO secular in wording/context, one could imagine that the founding fathers worked very hard to make sure religion was not seen as a part of the document. No way can the current crop of politicians create a religious frame work for the foundation of our country using the Constitution as a reference.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Atani said...

I have no problem with someone who espouses a moral conviction . My problem starts when they attempt to shove it down other folks throats. A good example is those - saying they represent the majority - try and change the way women are allowed to have a say in what happens to their body.

Right now I'd say that their are more women than men in the country - and add in all those of other faiths - what majority are we talking about

And o oh yes - were not some of those politicos in the news lately with arrests for dubious behavior . Just thinking out load is all

3:49 PM  
Blogger Atani said...

How about the folks that say they represent the "Majority" - and they are men - keep trying to pass laws regulating the use of a womens' body .

Some of these self-same moralists have since been arrested in dubious conduct situations .

Oh well - I'm for someone who lives by a moral code - I just don't want them to impose their code on the rest of us . And - by the way - I would think that women - as a whole - and other religions - would add up to a "real majority" of the U.S. populice .

3:49 PM  
Blogger sabjoro said...

King Henry VIII wanted to marry Anne Boleyn but the Pope in Rome wouldn't grant him a divorce so Henry threw out the Catholic church and told all this people they were no longer Catholic.

About 500 years later as late as the 1990s Catholics and Protestants were killing each other because one was in the wrong neighborhood.

Religious, yes. Faith, yes. Ruling using the Bible or other religious text, no.

Trouble is the Christian right conservatives are having a problem with the GOP candidates - not religious enough or not will to speak up on how they will govern with governance from the C. R.

The Christian R. are very vocal about treatment of women under Islamic law calling for a more democratic government and in the same breath calling for more Christian law in this country.

Democracy and Christian laws are not one and the same.

The founding fathers of this country wanted an educated, informed populace to do the voting. Instead they got the followers of conservative talk radio on one side and liberal loonies on the other who uses talking points instead of actual discussion of issues to determine the best candidates.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Wistuh said...

We can't talk about religion because it is 'shadow' politics. You know how you might get unpleasant surprises when you bring up your political or religious beliefs at a social gathering? Seemingly normal people can begin to foam at the mouth, rant and gesticulate. Religion and politics are the repository of our moral selves and we defend our beliefs.
I was brought up to think that it is impolite to bring up politics or religion at social gatherings so as to not distress the host or hostess by initiating a brawl(of course, when at large, it is OK to go for the jugular).
Personally, I think it is enough to know a candidates political party. If you want to know more, just listen to what they have to say and check out their political record. It distresses me to see candidates displaying their religious beliefs in an effort to pander to the 'unknown voter.' Nowadays people seem to want to know what religion you are, who you are dating, and what is the color of your underwear on Tuesday. People have their nose so deep into everyone else's business I don't see how people can breathe.

7:59 PM  
Blogger nancyp said...

I think it's important to know about and talk about the religious opinions of our candidates because those opinions will affect us all and our future generations.

I too refuse to vote for anyone who would deny women the right to control their own bodies, but that's just one reason why religious views are important in the political debate. I think it's more wide-reaching than abortion and school prayer.

One of the GOP candidates, Governor Huckabee, is proclaming his disbelief in evolution -- similar in my opinion to not believing in gravity. If he were to become President, that bias would create an anti-science environment in our nation's schools which will affect research funding and scientific inquiry for decades to come. If we feel our status in the world's economy would not be influenced by such bias then we are doomed to second class status in that scientific community. Our next generation would be denied basic knowledge that will be important to human survival.

We must talk about the religious beliefs of the candidates. We need to know that our futures and the futures of our next generation will be protected and not allowed to retreat into the stone age.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Knowing anything about George W Bush's religious beliefs wouldn't have had any predictive value about this horrible man's future as a domestic (lying, graft, civil rights crimes) & war criminal (I wonder what constitution he was swearing to protect when he took the oath of office?) If any of the fundy's still feel any allegiance to this criminal, it only serves to illustrate both their and Bush's hypocrisy.

I want to know the claimed religious affiliation (and beliefs) of candidates. While it may do little to predict whether or not a president will do what he says he will, it does add to the available knowledge of his/her background.

10:02 AM  

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