It’s another election year, kids! That means it’s time for the little popularity contest we have every four years to decide who gets to run things and fly around in that fancy jet for a while. In one corner we have Barack Hussein Obama, the first African-American to hold the office of President, the man who “got” Osama Bin Laden (and shot him in the fucking FACE! – okay, HE didn’t pull the trigger, sure, but it was on his watch and carried out by Navy SEALs of whom he was Commander-in-Chief, so that’s good enough for me); the man who… well… did some other stuff since being elected in 2008. In the other corner we’ll have one Mitt Romney, the one-term governor of Massachusetts who, um, has a lot of money and likes to tie animals to the roof of his car and enjoyed bullying gay kids in high school. Oh yeah, and he wears magic underwear.
The religious beliefs of presidential candidates are often called into question at election time, and Obama is no stranger to the scrutiny that the media and the public will heap upon a candidate when they want to know the details of exactly what they believe. Overall, I think that’s a good thing, because while I certainly don’t think a person’s gender or race have anything to do with that person’s qualifications to do the job of president, I believe a person’s religious beliefs go a long way toward communicating the kind of person they are to the world. To this end, I am of the belief that no one who professes faith in God should really be serving as the President of the United States of America.
Writing it like that I suppose it comes across as kind of bigoted. Maybe so. Understand, however, that I am not a bigot at all. I firmly believe that the Freedom of Religion we enjoy in this country is one of the most important freedoms granted us by the Bill of Rights. I also believe it is every person’s right to believe in whatever they like. It’s just that if you choose to believe in talking snakes, virgin births, and a man in the sky who, if you don’t do the things he says you should do, will cast you away into a pit of eternal fire where you will burn and suffer for all of the rest of forever (but don’t forget, he loves you!), then I am going to have some significant doubts about your intelligence as well as your sanity.
It’s nothing personal, really. Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. Let’s say you’re going about your business one day and you meet someone who tells you that he has an invisible friend who talks to him and gives him guidance in the day-to day decisions he makes. You’re going to think this dude is off his rocker. Now imagine that this guy is not the only one who feels this way, but there are millions of people who talk to this imaginary friend and who think he talks to them as well. Getting kind of scary now, huh? There are so many of these people that a presidential candidate pretty much HAS to say he believes in the imaginary friend too if he wants to get elected. That is just downright insane! Yet, its the world we live in in the United States, ladies and gentlemen.
Before Barack Obama, we had never had a black president in our country’s entire history. We’ve still never had a female president. We’re pretty behind the times when compared with much of the world. When you throw religion into the mix the club gets even more exclusive. Everyone who has ever been elected president has professed to follow some form of Christianity and that doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon. We’re likely to see a female president before we see a Jewish president, for example. Likewise for a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, or an atheist. Maybe I’m wrong about that. Lots of people in this country still think that Obama is Muslim, despite his repeated claims to the contrary and the fact that he was a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago (which, due to comments made by his former pastor, Rev. Otis Moss III, had also gotten the President into hot water during the 2008 election).
Obama had to go to great lengths during the 2008 campaign to prove to people that he was not a Muslim. “I’ve been to the same church… the same Christian church… for almost 20 years,” Obama said in January, 2008 in South Carolina, “I was sworn in with my hand on the family Bible. Whenever I’m in the United States Senate, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. So if you get some silly e-mail … send it back to whoever sent it and tell them this is all crazy. Educate.” Obama was responding to an internet attack on his religious background at the time which claimed that he was a Muslim and a terrorist who was secretly sworn in to the US Senate on a copy of the Koran and that he would turn his back when the Senators pledged the flag.
I personally hope for the day that a US presidential candidate can openly profess atheism when asked about his religious beliefs. While much of this country’s religious right herald the day that Ronald Reagan said “Let us Pray” (opening his famous “Evil Empire” speech) as a positive turning point for religion in politics, I think its one of the worst things that could have ever happened to this country. When Reagan uttered those words, Christians all over the nation sighed in relief; a collective “he’s one of US!” that could be felt from coast to coast. Interesting that the fact that the Reagans consulted astrologer Joan Quigley for advice on many important matters of state (a very un-Christian thing to do, especially for Evangelical Christians who strive to avoid anything remotely tied to the Occult – astrology and other forms of divination or “fortune telling” most certainly apply) hasn’t phased these folks a single bit in the ensuing years and Reagan is still remembered fondly by right-wingers as one of the greatest and most devout presidents to ever sit in the Oval Office. I will breathe a similar sigh of relief when a candidate asked if he believes in God simply replies “No.” It probably won’t ever happen in my lifetime, but I can hope for it, can’t I?
What I also can’t wait for is when people start really pressing Mitt Romney for details on HIS religious beliefs. Romney make sit no secret that he is a Mormon, of course, and the general consensus thus far has been that perhaps this shouldn’t matter any more than the color of Obama’s skin. Don’t kid yourself. The color of Obama’s skin matters plenty to a lot of people. Romney’s Mormonism is going to matter to a lot of people as well, especially those same Evangelicals who so worshiped Ronald Reagan back in his days. Back in my days going to an Evangelical church (I was a teenager when I was first dragged there, don’t hold it against me) there was a joke that was popular with many of the congregation. It went like this: This guy dies and goes to Heaven, where he is met by Saint Peter at the gates. Peter lets him in and is showing him around. At one point they come to a high wall and Peter turns to the man and says “shhhh,” putting his finger in front of his lips as if they’d just wandered into a celestial library. Peter starts walking on tip-toe as they pass this wall as if he is afraid he will wake someone who is sleeping. When they get past the wall and are a good distance away from it, Peter indicates to the man that it is okay to walk and talk normally again. “Why did we have to be so quiet back there?” the man asks Saint Peter. Peter replies, “Oh, on the other side of that wall are the Baptists. They think they’re the only ones here.” Its a pretty funny joke, until you realize that “Baptists” could be replaced by pretty much any
Christian denomination… or any religion for that matter. Evangelicals are quite steadfast in their beliefs regarding just who is and who isn’t a “real” Christian. Many are on the fence regarding whether Roman Catholics are, in fact, Christians, but almost all agree that Mormons are not. In fact, they go so far as to refer to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as a “cult” as opposed to a religion. It was at another church in my church’s “district” that I was shown the film The God Makers which goes to great lengths to convince its audiences that Mormonism is just that; a cult. Evangelicals don’t like Mormons much at all, is my point, and thus are faced with a difficult choice this November. Do they vote for the incumbent Obama who they believe is a Muslim and possibly a terrorist and (according to some absolute wackos) possibly the Antichrist himself? Or do they vote for Romney who is, ugh, a Mormon?
It is entirely possible that Romney’s candidacy will spark renewed interest in the hate-mongering film The God Makers and that people will start learning just how bat shit crazy Mormon beliefs really are. If Romney is able to convince people that the 13 Articles of Faith (as they appear on the LDS church’s official website mormon.org) are really ALL Mormons believe, he may be okay. These publicly shared statements are fairly straightforward and could be applied to a number of Christian faiths.
13 Articles of Faith
- We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
- We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
- We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
- We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
- We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
- We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.
- We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
- We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
- We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
- We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
- We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
- We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Of course there is no mention there of magic underwear (the Mormon’s “Temple Garments”), no mention of the multiple worlds God created and had populated with spiritual beings, and no mention of Jesus’ appearance in the Americas, thousands of years before they were ever discovered. There’s also no mention of Joseph Smith and his Golden Plates or the concept of celestial marriage and eternal pregnancy or of any of a number of more and more bizarre Mormon beliefs that will raise the eyebrows of much of the religious right.
Isn’t an atheist president sounding more and more reasonable all the time?