'Friendly Atheist': I Get Angry When Told It's Wrong to Attack Candidates for Their Religious Faith
Writing today at the Chicago Tribune's "Seeker" religion blog, "Friendly Atheist" Hemant Mehta explained why he's angered by admonitions to not hold a presidential candidate's religion against him or her (emphasis mine):
Last week, I was part of an interfaith gathering. One of the participants made very clear the message she wanted to spread: As this election season gets underway, I want to make sure people are not attacked for their religious faith.
She was suggesting that Mitt Romney‘s Mormonism, for example, shouldn’t be held against him. If you want to go after his policies, fine, but don’t attack his faith. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable stance.
The Constitution says we don’t have a religious test for public office, and people have the right to believe whatever nonsense they want. Maybe a couple years ago, I would’ve said the exact same thing.
The more I thought about it, though, the angrier I got…
Mehta went on to explain what he told this woman:
So I spoke with her after the event was over. This is basically what I said:
Let’s say Mike Huckabee is running for president. He’s an Evangelical Christian. Because of that label, I already know certain things about him. I know where he stands in regards to evolution, and I can’t trust him to support good science.
I know where he stands on abortion, and I can’t trust him to protect women’s rights.
I know he believes homosexuality is immoral and I can’t trust him to fight for civil rights for the LGBT community.
So, yes, knowing Mike Huckabee is an Evangelical Christian is all the information I need to make a decision about him. I don’t need to know the rest of his politics. I’m going to hold his faith against him by not voting for him.
(Remember when three Republicans raised their hands in a 2007 debate, admitting they don’t accept evolution?)
One has to wonder if Mehta would be comfortable with religious voters automatically disqualifying atheists out of a presumption about how their atheism would influence their stance on any number of issues.