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Got God?
If not, you'd better not be running for president, because secularists pay a penalty at the polls. Cathy Young registers her alarm in the Boston Globe:

THE OTHER day, I was reading an interview with Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean in Newsweek when I had to stop and check that it was indeed Newsweek and not, say, Christianity Today. Yes, it was indeed Newsweek. And, after a series of questions about a variety of public policy issues, Dean was asked, out of the clear blue, the following question: "Do you see Jesus Christ as the son of God and believe in him as the route to salvation and eternal life?" For the record, Dean's somewhat cagey answer probably did little to assuage doubts about his religious faith: "I certainly see him as the son of God. I think whether I'm saved or not is not gonna be up to me." The real issue, though, is why this question even came up in a political magazine. Do we now have a religious test for public office -- something that was explicitly rejected by the Founders of the United States of America?

I am not, for many reasons, a Dean supporter. But in the past few weeks, Dean has been the target of something dangerously close to a religious witch-hunt -- and that should concern all of us, whatever our party affiliation or our political, religious, and moral convictions.

Personally, I'll have a soft spot for any candidate who doesn't just believe what they're told (that there's a god), but insists on a scientific standard of proof. Always nice to have a rational person in the head office, don't you think?

Posted by aalkon at January 23, 2004 9:48 AM


While this is certainly a cause for concern, I'm wondering how old Cathy Young (the author) is. There is nothing "new" about this religious discrimination that prevents non-Christians from taking the presidency. You will not find a non-Christian president in the historical archives of this nation (until you start getting to the deists) and only one who happens to be Catholic.

The article writes: "In a column for, a website that deals with religious issues, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach asserts that nonreligious people have a problem taking a strong stand against evil; as an example, he cites Dean's dovish stance in the war against terrorism."

I didn't know that there was some universal consensus going on that the unprovoked attacked upon a sovereign nation was a "good" thing. So, Dean isn't certain that this was the proper thing to do? Good for him. Those who are absolutely certain that the U.S. was in the right to invade Iraq are the ones who scare me.

But our fearless leader had no such reservations. Without even mentioning it in his campaign speeches, he decided to plow ahead and spend billions of dollars on a war with no help from congress (and less from me) and will still be spending more on reparations.

Gee, that sure flies in the face of what Bush told us during his campaign. I guess when he said he was against "nation building," he meant he was against the building of THIS nation.

So, misleading the American people, invading Iraq and spending billions of our money on them instead of those in need amongst ourselves is a "good" thing? I'm glad I was told. I wouldn't have known otherwise.

And it sure is helpful to know that only Christians can be "good" people. We could now dispense with elections and just weigh our Presidential candidates by their church attendance records since birth, and the decision is made.

Posted by: Patrick at January 23, 2004 7:33 AM

I can't remember the exact figures, but a recent Gallup Poll reflected that somewhere between 85-90% of Americans believe in god, in whatever form that god takes. I think the public definitely wants a leader that shares some of their most basic values. So, yes, secularists are going to face an uphill battle since they are in the minority.

That doesn't mean that people who believe in god can settle the question there--great, we have one area of common ground. Now let's see what you think about taxes, federal aid programs, the environment, etc. The reality is anyone can say they believe anything--you have to look at what they've actually DONE to see what they truly believe.

Posted by: Peggy C at January 23, 2004 10:50 AM

Many of us secularists would like to be called secular humanists, because the latter term implies that we do indeed believe in something -- like the good old Enlightenment notion that scientific progress can lead to the betterment of humanity (despite what Joe Lieberman thinks).

Posted by: Lena at January 23, 2004 11:22 AM

well, our country was founded "one nation under God".

Posted by: Lauren at February 2, 2004 9:08 AM

The problem, Lauren, is which God? Is it, as many on military dot com, for instance, insist, the Christian version; and if so, which brand of that religion? Much of the evil that has been perpetrated in the world throughout history has been at the behest of the Judaic-Christian God, who doesn't have one happy, little band of followers. Nay, they only count themselves as one big extended family when they want to prove how viable their religion is, and as such (being the majority and all), should be allowed to dictate to us godless, evil-worshipping, suckers of the Devil's...ah, third member, how we should live our lives. Most of the time, they're out to kill one another just as quick as they'd kill a nonbeliever, for the same reason: improper attitude in the face of the fact that millions of (nutball religionists) can't be wrong for accepting as immutable fact an invisible god that can't be accessed with any tactile sense. By the way, that warm, fuzzy feeling is "proof" of God's existence.

Posted by: Buford at February 20, 2004 8:55 PM