By Daniel B. Kline
In general, I prefer my presidential candidates not mention their religious affiliation. I'd actually prefer they not have a religious affiliation, but, in this country, that's essentially impossible because too many voters place whatever faith they've been brainwashed into ahead of any other voting criteria.
And, before you start sending me emails about the last line, what else would you call it when we indoctrinate children from birth into a group with rigid rules where you aren't allowed to question anything? In my mind, anyone devoutly devoted to any particular religion should not be a candidate for president as it's impossible for them to be impartial when their indoctrination contradicts common sense.
Take abortion – the hottest of hot button topics – Christian religions are anti-abortion, no matter the circumstances. That flies in the face of common sense as the United States simply has more children than we can care for and bringing more unwanted children in the system represents a bad use of resources.
Because of that, a president, must support abortion remaining legal even if he or she finds it morally reprehensible. First off, we should not dictate morals to other people and second, on a practical basis we can't afford more unwanted children.
Morality has no place in public debate. It's a moving target and a definition we can't all agree on, which should not be decided by politicians. You consider abortion immoral, I consider bringing unwanted children into the world immoral.
Bringing god into politics, also allows candidates to to make arguments that sensible people – those of us who don't believe any sort of higher power micromanages daily events – can't argue with because it's rude to question religion no matter how wacky its application may be. This can perhaps best be illustrated in the actions of presidential candidate Michelle Bachman who moved from a little cuckoo to downright deranged last week when she more or less said that God had sent the earthquake and hurricane that hit the East Coast last week due to overspending by government.
"I don't know how much god has to do to get the attention of the politicians," Bachman told a crowd of Floridians over the weekend, according to the St. Petersburg Times. "We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."
If Bachman truly believes that god sent an earthquake and a hurricane to send politicians a message about spending, perhaps she can explain exactly what he/she meant during every other natural disaster? We just had a rain storm where I live, perhaps that one was about overcrowding in the public schools?
When politicians start making decisions based on their belief in a magical man in the sky then they forfeit their right to speak for those of us who deal in reality. I know that much of the country believes – or at least pretends to believe – deeply in their religion, but facts, not faith should drive our political decisions.
Presidents, congresspeople, governors and even mayors need to make decisions they find distasteful because it's what's right for their constituents. That might mean handing out condoms in public schools, letting gay people in the military or supporting equal pay for for equal work for women. If your faith – and your inability to waver from that faith for the good of those you serve – makes it impossible to do your job, then you should not run for that job.
We're heading for an election where our woefully incompetent president runs against a Republican (take your pick of which one) whose only election platform involves religion. As a country, we'll get to pick between a guy who has no answers for our dying economy and a guy (or gal) whose first allegiance is to the fairy tales he was fed before he knew how to read.
Daniel B. Kline's work appears in over 100 papers weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can see his archive at dbkline.com. You can listen to his podcast or buy his book, Worst Ideas Ever, at Worstideasever.com.