As the presidential campaign begins to take shape, do you think it is appropriate and or important for the candidates to express their personal religious views and to use religious rhetoric? Why?One of the statements that jumps out is this one from Welton Gaddy, leader of a group called the Interfaith Alliance. He describes some guidelines for politicians drawn up by his group:
Be authentic about how their personal beliefs will guide their decisions and actions in office; never use an elected office to favor one religion over others or religion in general over non-religious beliefs; remember that any use of religious language must be sensitive to voters from a wide diversity of religions and belief systems; and never use religion as a form of political strategy to gain admiration, loyalty, and votes.I see a potential conflict between the first and third points: what if a politicians beliefs include items that a great many Americans would find insensitive? I can think of no better an example than a previous post here about one-time presidential candidate Pat Robertson's belief that all Jews are going to burn in hell. One rather air-headed pundit assessed Robertson's statement on that matter as follows: "While most of them would put it more delicately than Robertson, it is an article of faith for millions and millions of evangelicals that the only way into heaven is through belief in Jesus Christ." I take a different view: I hope every politician who believes as Robertson does is as un-delicate as Robertson so that the political campaigns can go down in flames. Per the David Hume quote I posted recently, politicans' religious beliefs aren't going to affect policy as much as one might rationally expect, but they still will affect policy some. This is true whether or not a politician maintains a polite silence about his beliefs, or whether he cloaks them in euphamisms. Therefore, I very much want to see politicians saying what they think on religious matters, no matter what those beliefs are.
Some incidental notes:
A Pagan panelist mentions "the values of compassion, caring and inter-connection that all religions teach," so yes, some people still do accept that notion.
This guy seems oblivious to the modern religious landscape, where divisions within denominations are often more important than divisions between them. And the argument against abortion is dumb: blood samples also have their own DNA and chromosomes.
And the statement "Something that must be taken by faith alone does not allow itself to be tested in the free marketplace of ideas, a quality essential for democracy to work" catches my eye because of the causual concession that religious beliefs are not rational.