The United States is probably unique, or close to it, in having a government where no matter how religious the people in it are, they’re not allowed to impose their religious views on the masses… and yet the masses generally demand that the political leaders be (or at least pretend to be) quite religious.
One talk show personality I listen to on occasion is Michael Medved. When he’s talking about politics, I generally find him to be reasonable… but he loses his damn mind when he starts going off about religion. A day or two back I heard him discussing the idea of electing an atheist President. He opposes the idea because, in his view, without some Unchangeable Universal Truth upon which to anchor your decision making on… why, an atheist could suddenly decide tomorrow that murder is awesome! Rape is neato! He has taken this position numerous times, and I’ve been hearing it from others for decades.
I take issue with this line of reasoning on two grounds:
- Name me a religion that’s more than a century old that really, truly has unshaken, unbending moral positions. Not so fast, Christianity. Sit your ass back down and ponder the 1800 years when you thought slavery was cool, and suddenly changed your mind when the industrial revolution made slavery non-competitive in the marketplace. Or why you *now* think that democracy is a good idea, but back when Korah wanted a bit of it, God smote tens of thousands of people for the sin of being geographically nearby.
- If atheists, who are not anchored by faith in some specific set of codes brought down from On High, are so likely to wander to and fro ethically… why are there so few of them in prison? Attend:
Where we find that in 2013, the US Federal prison system found:
|RELIGION||PRISON POP.||GENERAL POP.|
|Churches of Christ||1.5||0.8|
|Seventh Day Adventist||0.3||0.4|
From this, we can see that atheists are *under* represented in the prison population by a factor of seven to one. Pentecostals, however, are under represented by a factor of 24 to one, Mormons by about four to one, Protestants by about three to two. Note one group is *over* represented by a factor of about 14 to one. With the exception of the pentacostals, the data doesn’t really argue in favor of the notion that religion imparts law abiding. And since we’re repeatedly told that the basis of law is pronouncements from On High… if *atheists* are better at obeying them than the people who claim to believe in that On High source, doesn’t this destroy the idea that a lack of some specific Truth makes one an uncertain candidate for President?
Seems to me a better approach than trying to elect someone based on what god they express belief in would be to elect people based on their track record of upholding the Constitution or arguing in favor of changing it. Because unless you’re an atheist or a Pentecostal, the prisons are filled with people who believe in the same sky wizard you do, and who like taking a dump on both their religions by-laws *and* the laws of society.
Note: I ain’t an atheist.