Elections & Voting
Is God running for president?
By Mary Shaw
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 30, 2007, 00:14

I was reading the Letters section in the October 15 issue of Newsweek magazine, and found an interesting letter from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The letter was in response to an article in a previous edition that apparently had focused on Romney primarily as a practicing Mormon.

In the letter, Romney wrote, "I am an American running for president, not a Mormon running for president."

He goes on to say, "I would have thought that more important to my potential presidency would be my record as a governor, 25-year business leader, Olympic CEO, father, husband -- and American."


I am no fan of Mitt Romney, but I have to agree with him here.

I have thought the same thing through the past two decades' worth of elections, which often have seemed more like contests to prove who's more holy, not who's more qualified to run this country.

And I thought the same thing during a recent Democratic candidates' debate, when each was asked to share his or her favorite Bible verse.

I wondered if that question would have been asked if a non-Christian candidate had been standing on that stage.

And I wondered if this nation will ever evolve to where we really might see a non-Christian candidate standing on that stage. (Jewish Senator Joe Lieberman doesn't count. During his 2000 vice-presidential run, he managed to out-God all the other candidates.)

George W. Bush not only invokes his God in virtually every speech he makes, he also openly admits that he takes his instructions from his God. And look where that has gotten us. It brings to mind the words of Sinclair Lewis, who said, "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

The religious right and their supporters in Washington have brainwashed the American public into believing that Christianity is patriotic. In fact, according to a recent survey by the First Amendment Center, 65 percent of Americans believe that the nation's founders intended the U.S. to be a Christian nation and 55 percent believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation.

Hogwash. They need to read the Constitution, which makes no mention of God or Christianity. And they need to acquaint themselves with the Bill of Rights.

It was with good reason that this nation's founders wrote the "separation clause" into the First Amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

It was to protect the minority from tyranny of the majority. Our founders did not want this nation to sink into theocracy. They knew that theocracy always leads to oppression and loss of freedom.

Our founders wanted to establish a democracy in which the government serves all the people, not just the Christian ones.

For these reasons, we should not be compelled to vote for someone because he or she can recite passages from the Bible. In fact, we should be suspicious of those who do so in a political context. It's pandering, and it's often hypocritical.

We need to vote for candidates who will take their instructions not from some deity, but rather from the people.

We need to vote for candidates who will take their instructions not from some holy book, but rather from the Constitution.

Otherwise, we're no longer the America that our founders had envisioned, and we're no better than the theocratic dictatorships that we criticize.

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views on politics, human rights, and social justice issues have appeared in numerous online forums and in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail: mary@maryshawonline.com.

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