Why Political Candidates’ Religious Beliefs Are Important
Mark D Larsen
May 3, 2012
There are SO many questions about Romney’s Mormonism that I would LOVE journalists to ask him point blank!
I opine that one’s religious views are just as important —perhaps more important— than one’s political philosophy. As my psychologist spouse informs me: for all practical intents and purposes it is impossible to separate “private” beliefs from public attitudes, prejudices, decisions, and behavior.
For example, when it comes to Mormonism in particular (and many other Christian religions)...
- If a person privately deems homosexuality a sin, a choice, a perversion, condemned by god, can I trust that individual to labor to establish equal rights for gays and lesbians, including marriage?
- If someone believes that humans were once male or female “spirits” in a pre-mortal existence, and god then puts them into corresponding male or female bodies, how supportive will the person be of legislation, let alone public health practices, to help transgender children establish and live according to their genetic identity?
- If someone believes that there are “spirit children” in “heaven,” anxiously lined up, waiting for their chance to finally come to earth and get a physical body before the “second coming,” how would it affect the person’s views on overpopulation in a finite world with finite resources?
- How would that same belief affect the person’s views on tax laws that allow more and more deductions for families who choose to have more and more children?
- If a candidate honestly believes that one can put a “seer” stone in a hat, and bury one’s face in it to “read” holy scriptures from god in the stone, is it unreasonable to suspect that said person might resort to a similar hat-and-stone, a ouija board, tarot cards, a crystal ball to make crucial decisions as an elected official?
- If someone believes that god gave humans “dominion” over the entire earth, to do with as we please, and that the “second coming” is nigh, that Jesus will descend from heaven to cleanse the earth of sinners and rule over the remaining righteous believers for a thousand years in the near future, should I assume that view will not have an effect upon the person’s decisions that affect the environment, global warming, even industrial pollution? It won't have any effect on efforts to move to cleaner, renewable sources of energy rather than deciding to “drill, baby, drill” until the fossil fuels are completely gone?
- If someone believes the earth is less than 10,000 years old, that Adam and Eve were how humans came to exist, will it not taint his/her decisions about funding and support for science education in our public schools?
- If someone believes that a fertilized egg, an embryo, a fetus is a human being with a “soul,” god’s ultimate and most sacred creation, will it not affect the person’s votes on issues such as stem cell research, contraception, abortion, women’s rights to make their own choices about reproduction?
- If a person believes that humans are a “special creation” of god, created in his own image, his ultimate handiwork, his own spirit children, but NOT part of the animal kingdom... and that all those other life forms exist solely for “the benefit and use of man"... would it not influence the person’s stance on laws that regulate hunting animals for sport, using them in laboratory experiments, destroying their habitat for commercial gain, exposing them to toxic waste, abusing them, protecting endangered species?
- If someone believes that, as declared in Mormon scripture, “thou wast chosen before thou wast born,” and thus reserved to come to earth as one of the elect saints in the latter-days before the second coming, does it not affect the person’s political view that “all men are created equal”?
- If a person believes, like Romney, that he/she is a literal descendent of Ephraim, and thus one of god’s “chosen people of Israel,” will it not affect his/her public views, influence, and decisions regarding conflicts in the Middle East?
- If someone believes that god orchestrated the establishment of the United States of America, can I trust that person to enforce the separation of church and state?
- If an individual is obedient to a religion’s hierarchy, believes that such leaders are divinely inspired, that they speak for god on earth, will that person advocate eliminating loopholes in the tax code so that clergy and churches have to pay their fair share of taxes like everyone else?
- If a person privately believes that black skin is a curse from god for being a “fence-sitter” in a war between Jesus and Lucifer in a pre-mortal existence, and that god has cursed Native Americans with a red skin for their ancestors' wickedness, sin, and idolatry, can I really assume that the person’s views and votes on civil rights issues will be free of racial prejudice?
- Similarly, if someone doggedly purports that Native Americans are descendents of Jews, despite all the historical, archaeological, and biological DNA evidence to the contrary, is that person able to face reality, accept and implement the contributions of science and education when making decisions?
- If a person believes that god is a patriarch who rules over multiple wives, that likewise practicing said polygamy is an eternal requirement to be with him in the “highest degree of the celestial kingdom” in the afterlife, and that only men can have priesthood power to run and administer god’s church on earth, can I truly trust that person to fight for and defend absolutely equal rights for women in society via legislation and judicial decisions?
- If someone believes that only god can decide when to “bring a soul home,” how would it affect that person’s attitude towards legislation on euthanasia?
- If a person believes that a ritual of annointment with "consecrated" oil can cure others of an illness, will it not influence the person’s decisions about medical and health issues that affect the public?
- If someone believes that there is a “ghost in the machine,” that said ghost will continue to exist in an afterlife, that those who die will someday be reunited with their loved ones again in “heaven,” how would it affect the person’s judgment if and when deciding to send men and women in the military to die in war?
- If a person believes in a god capable of intervening in our lives with miracles, whose intervention can be summoned by prayer and supplication, can I trust that person to make tough and difficult decisions to solve problems by relying soley upon human intellect, abilities, and efforts rather than leaving it “in god’s hands”?
- If someone believes that his/her underwear is “sacred” and must be worn at all times, day and night, as a protection against “evil,” will the person rely upon scientific data or fall back on supernatural and paranormal beliefs to make pragmatic decisions?
- If someone is required to pass an interview every year to sustain the head of his/her church as the one and only “prophet, seer, and revelator” of God on earth, is that person obligated to submit to that religious leader’s will on all matters, whether private or public, religious or political?
- If in that same interview a person agrees to never “affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by” the person’s church, can I safely assume that said individual will treat all citizens equally under the law?
- If a person has already taken an oath to “consecrate himself, his time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed him, or with which he may bless him, to his church, for the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion,” can I trust that individual to give loyalty to our country top priority while in office?
Sigh.... I could go on and on and on —and have, obviously. You can see that society’s hands-off deference to religion as a “sacred cow,” a “tabu” subject, really irks me. My point is that those oh-so-private religious beliefs cannot help but have real effects on real people in the real world. Like Richard Dawkins, I want to know what makes a candidate “tick” before casting my vote.