Putting Candidates’ Religion to the Test

Twelve Irreligious Questions for the Candidates Before “Tiw’s Day’s” Elections

John Allen Paulos in an excellent column at ABC News:

Candidates_religion_080201_msReligious beliefs have been a big issue in presidential politics for a while now, and many of the candidates, particularly Govs. Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, have opted for different reasons to talk about theirs.

This is a two-way street, however. If religion and religious ideas are going to be more publicly discussed, candidates and their supporters will have to accustom themselves to the free expression of doctrines contrary to their own, in particular to irreligious perspectives.

Their religiosity will eventually invite questions about their beliefs and their provenance more pointed than the usual vague queries about the role of faith in their lives. Here are a few such questions that might be directed explicitly to Huckabee and Romney — and then generally to some of the other candidates…

  • Article 19 of the Arkansas state constitution states, “No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court.” Although it and similar laws in other states are not enforced, do you support their formal repeal?
  • Is it right to suggest, as many have, that atheists and agnostics are somehow less moral when the numbers on crime, divorce, alcoholism and other measures of social dysfunction show that non-believers in the United States are extremely under-represented in each category?
  • For many, religion has been a source of ideas and narratives that are enlightening, of ideals and values that are inspiring, of rituals and traditions that are satisfying. It has also led to hatred, cruelty, superstition, divisiveness, credulity and fanaticism. What can you do to further the former and minimize the latter effects?

More here.