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

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Is it bias if you distrust ALL religions?

I've been heartened many times, usually fleetingly, by stories I've heard on National Public Radio.
None of your blathering about "liberal bias," now. In an era when almost no "news" source spends more than necessary or looks further than required to find out what's going on, NPR will take the time and invest the bucks to look at least around the edges of a story, if not to crawl behind it. Stories that begin "The White House said today" or "The Governor's office announced this afternoon" are pretty sure tipoffs that you're being spoon-fed what somebody wants you to believe. You don't hear a lot of those on NPR.
So I'm listening this morning, and there's a segment indicating, in apparent surprise, that about half of all Americans say they'd be reluctant to vote for a Mormon for president.
The surprise, I suspect, was feigned. I know Mormons who say they're reluctant to vote for Mormons.
"I grew up in the church," one of them told me a few weeks ago in a discussion of Mormon president manque Mitt Romney. "When he says his religion won't influence how he governs, he's absolutely lying."
I have no opinion on that and take no position; I'm just reporting what I was told.
Similar findings kept popping up when Joe Lieberman (Selfserver-Conn.) was running for President: Surveys, some pundit was always pointing out, showed that many Americans would be reluctant to vote for a Jew. You think?
The announcer and a reporter discussed the Mormon issue for a few seconds, arriving at no conclusion. Then, as they left the topic, the announcer dropped in the finding that cheered me up:
45 percent of American voters also say they think evangelical Christians have gone too far in promoting their views.
Hallelujah at last. Maybe Democracy has a future in this country after all.
In the matter of religion, I have no preference. I don't care what you believe or what you preach, though I'll be obliged if you don't preach creationism to my children. This nation is far enough behind in the sciences without digging that hole any deeper.
Where elected officials are concerned, though, I want decisions to be made on pragmatic grounds.
I have friends, for instance--OK, more like acquaintances--who see no reason for any kind of conservation, because they believe God will come back and carry us all somewhere before everything runs out. Use up the oil, cut the old-growth trees, foul the air and water--makes no difference, because soon there will be a flash of light, a burst of music and we'll all grow wings and flutter off to Heaven.
I may have some of the details wrong, but that's the gist of it.
Certainly they can believe that if they choose. But I don't believe it, and I don't want a politician who thinks as they do making decisions that affect what the world will be like after they're gone.
We tend to shy away from talking about religion in politics, unless we believe God has spoken directly to us and chosen us as his messengers (too much of that going around these days, by the way--personally, I believe God is a little choosier than that evidence seems to indicate). That's a mistake for a couple of reasons:
First, it drives the conversations underground. If we don't trust Mormons or Jews or evangelicals, wouldn't it be better to have those conversations in daylight? "Say, Mitt--I like some of what you say, but I'm really worried about your church's position on Blacks. How about a straight answer on that, at least?"
And second, now and then it lets the wackos sneak into office. I mean, really Mike Huckabee?


Blogger Skyshrink said...

I like the "spare" planet idea. Goes along with the idea that we are not part of "Nature". Nature is something one goes out of the house/city to see and experience. Easy test to see if it is true.....try going a day without using any oxygen. So, if we really only have one planet to live on, shouldn't we be REALLY careful about what we do with it...instead of depending on growing wings and developing the capability of flight at some future point?

9:45 AM  
Blogger mindervillain said...

Perhaps I'm just cynical, but for a long time I've wondered when the American Religious Right and the Muslim Extremists would finally realize that they have more in common than in opposition and so sit down together and divy up the world.

Of course, as Lily Tomlin said, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Romney wouldn't let the LDS hierarchy run the US, just like the church doesn't run Utah, Idaho, and most of Nevada.(Oh, yeah, Harry Reid is a Mormon and I think our illustrious horny governor Gibbons converted just before the election)

11:52 AM  
Blogger sabjoro said...

Why would God take us to Heaven after we filled the landfills with paper, plastic bottles, metal cans and other materials that can be recycled or otherwise made a mess of our home?

If you aren't willing to take care of your own house why would you change and take care of Heaven once you start living there?

12:21 PM  
Blogger tuzoner said...

The only God us living creatures on earth should fear would be an errant asteroid of a significant size. The large creators you seen on the visible part of our moon were cause by them. The only shield we have against them on earth is our precious atmosphere. Without it we would certainly be doomed in short order.

I generally find most God-fearing people to be strange - even stranger then the hardcore video game players.

As for the Mormons and the church of LDDS, I know little about the church, its history and their membership.

However, if you're interested in learning more about the Mormons (which I am just from curiosity alone), An American Experience and Frontline on the PBS network have teamed-up for a two part series airing on Monday, February 11 at 9pm CST. (The first part airs this Monday) Check your local listings for times and channels.

And just as an aside: If I were King, I would promote Cory as Chief God of all things rational - which includes but not necessarily limited to - basic common sense.

6:02 PM  
Blogger nopastels said...

What a breath of fresh air this article is, thank you.

What is funny is all the commentators come out saying that all Americans are good God fearing people and you had better believe their way, and vote their way.

I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one to believe in "live and let live".

7:27 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

A society's laws are based on a society's morality. To much religion and you have the Spanish Inquisition. Not enough religion and you have "water boarding".

Separation of church and state is an illusion that helps maintain a balance. A politician's religious beliefs (his core morality) must be examined and questioned before his is given the power to make and change the rules.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Besides flipping more times than a flapjack at ihop Romney's religious choice was an issue for some because it would have put a spotlight on why there is a litmus test in the Repub party.It's terrible to watch McCain flagellate himself, after he once gave me a reason to switch sides many years ago.Another good book about Mormonism is called "Under the banner of heaven" by Jon Krakauer.I find most people of faith to be pretty cool and keep my lack of such beliefs to myself in most cases,however it is amusing to listen to the reasons people use to get one to join the god squad.....

7:57 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Religion - everyone has one, even if it's atheism. Every story in the press about a candidate's religion is one story not about our kids in Iraq and Afghanistan - fluff instead of substance, IMHO.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Happy Camper said...

It seems no religion can keeps its head from rearing up once in power. Roe vs Wade has been through so many religious wars, and yet in the final decsion women will and should have say over their bodies and their lives. I agree with live and let live, but it is a discipline I have trouble following.It is marvelous to see so many intelligent people gathered in one place, sometimes disagreeing but with grace and wit. Thank you for the forum Cory. You know I have never admitted this, but I am the person you wrote about in the paper who sent you 6 pages of light yellow font, just wanted to say on my screen it had a forest green background... sorry bout that.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Gary Helmers said...

I was never so happy about a political announcement than when I heard Romney had dropped out. Even taking religion out of the guy just seemed to be sleazy, the worst of slick candidates.

At this point it appears McCain will be the Republican candidate against either Clinton or Obama. I can live with those choices. At least I'll feel like I'm deciding based on the merits instead of picking the lesser of 2 evils.

It may be wishful thinking, but this year the Presidential choices are looking promising some far.

10:11 AM  
Blogger sabjoro said...

Did anyone see bush on fox 11 this past Sunday?

The way bush was speaking about faith he sounded like he was at an AA meeting, think 12-steps.

Anyone else notice?

11:09 PM  
Blogger mindervillain said...

"We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further." --Richard Dawkins

11:32 PM  
Blogger tuzoner said...

After watching Part 1 of the Mormon series on PBS last night, I must say that Mormonism makes Scientology look downright plausible. *grin*

I think it's safe to say I'll never be visiting or residing in Utah.

Disclosure: I did skirt Utah on a trip to see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

5:26 AM  
Blogger EidolaC said...

It's not bias if you distrust religions. It's just good sense.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Happy Camper said...

to S; I never watch Bush...... and the thought of him following any program is laughable..... If he practiced humility; we wouldn't be where we are. He sure would not be a credit to AA, thats for sure, he would be a good reason to enforce the eleventh tradition...
( picture smiley face )

12:48 PM  
Blogger renoactor said...

I have felt since I was young that organized religion is the plague of mankind. More horrors have been visited on innocent peaceful people in order to make them "see the light" than by any other work of mankind. The list is endless. The Romans, The Crusades, the crushing of Native Americans, Jonestown, the Holocaust, the Middle East, radical Islam, the Christian Coalition, and on and on.

7:15 PM  
Blogger lgscott5053 said...

I must be dreaming but I thought there was supposed to be separation of church and state. It seems as though evangelicals believe it's my way or the highway when it comes to religious matters,which I think should stay in the respective churches,mosques,synagogues or temples.If you are going to exhort your members to vote one way or another without giving equal time to the opposite view your in violation of the law and your tax exempt status should be forfeit.Believe what you wish, do not expect me to be a follower or take your word for it's validity.Oh,if you think Obama's preacher is out there, check out YOUTUBE and search for John Hagee who supports McCain and come to understand the word "nut-job".

11:57 AM  

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