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Aug 08 2012

Well darn.

PZ Myers has a post up that has my feelings a bit mixed. It’s a quote attributed to Richard Dawkins:

Yes, America STILL manages to reach Mars despite half the country preparing to elect a man who believes he’ll get a planet when he dies. It is all the more to the credit of the sane, rational half of America that it manages to achieve so much despite being positively held back by the other half, the half that believes the universe is 6,000 years old, the half that seriously contemplates voting for a Mormon.

I have tremendous respect for Dr. Dawkins, but I have to say, this is an incredibly bad quote, and I hope he didn’t really say it. As phrased, it is an appeal to religious bigotry, plain and simple. I think I know what it’s trying to say, and I definitely agree that (a) Mitt Romney would be a terrible choice for president and (b) the anti-science activism of fundamentalist right-wingers is a serious detriment to America’s ability to thrive and progress in a modern technological world. However, the suggestion that it would not be “sane” and “rational” to consider voting for a Mormon is just plain bigotry. Merely having a denominational affiliation does not dictate how qualified a candidate might or might not be to serve, nor does it even reliably indicate how strongly or weakly he or she upholds the tenets of the denomination. There are plenty of valid criticisms to be made of Mr. Romney; we do not need to stoop to this.

I do not regard Dr. Dawkins as a religious bigot, and I believe that this quote, if genuine, is merely an unfortunate and ill-considered choice of words. But if someone said that it would not be sane and rational to vote for an atheist, I’d make the same protest. Candidates stand or fall on their own qualifications, and should not be arbitrarily dismissed based on religious affiliation. I hope that if this quote is legit, Dr. Dawkins retracts it or at least clarifies it.

71 comments

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  1. 1
    Ned Champlain

    I have no problem with the quote as it stands. The question of the President’s faith is brought up constantly. 20% of voters believe he is a Muslim, because of the lies told. I see nothing wrong with telling the truth about Mitt’s belief.

    1. 1.1
      Andre

      I don’t want the person with his finger on the button to believe in a false sky-daddy who wants the world bathed in fire… ever.

    2. 1.2
      Deacon Duncan

      The problem is that the latter half of the original quote, as written, isn’t about Mitt Romney’s beliefs, it’s about “a Mormon’s” beliefs. See my follow-up post.

  2. 2
    Daniel Schealler

    One defense of Dawkin’s quote would be that Mormonism is nuts, you’d have to be nuts to actually believe it – so Romney is either nuts or lying. Either case, he’s a bad choice.

    There’s a whole argument that could be made with something along those lines as a conclusion.

    But I agree with you that the way that quote is structured is bad. It has the syntax of bigotry. While I’m sure that the argument is there in the background, and that is what Dawkins meant (because I’ve heard him make that argument on several occasions), none of that comes through in this particular quote unless you’re already familiar with Dawkins’ stance here.

    Bad rhetoric. Bad politics. But still right – or at least, arguably justified – after you break it down.

    It’s inevitable that Dawkins is going to be backed into that sort of position. But stuff like this makes it harder.

    Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

    Agree with the underlying argument, but don’t like this wording.

    1. 2.1
      Nemo

      One defense of Dawkin’s quote would be that Mormonism is nuts, you’d have to be nuts to actually believe it – so Romney is either nuts or lying.

      This is true, but the same is true of mainstream Christianity.

      If we had to restrict our voting to people who only professed rational beliefs, we’d be doing a lot of… not voting.

      1. Daniel Schealler

        If there really is no viable candidate, then there’s an argument to be had in favor of intentionally spoiling your vote.

        That’s one of my problems with the NZ system right now. There’s no way to spoil your vote. You can not show up – but there’s no easy way to distinguish someone intentionally spoiling their vote as an act of protest from those who just couldn’t be bothered voting.

        I’m not sure if the US system has a method for spoiling votes that way or not. If not, then it should too. Vote-spoiling is (to my mind) a key component that should exist in any democratic political process.

        That said: I still think it’s worthwhile to have some kind of threshold in place. It’s the ‘You believe what?‘ principle.

      2. Daniel Schealler

        Oh, and for the record: I agree that Christianity is nuts too.

        I think Mormonism can be justifiably viewed as more nutty though, because Mormonism is sort of Christianity with some significantly nutty extra bits.

      3. gordona

        You turn up, write “stuff you all” on it and it gets counted as “informal”. And at least inNZ we still have at least some modicum of choice and a proportional system that controls the worst scenarios.

  3. 3
    mal099

    Source for the first part of the quote:
    https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/232390597963550720
    He clarifies on his twitter that this tweet was a reply to all the people who have criticized him for his praising of America after the Curiosity landing. He does say in another tweet though that “the private planet is only one of many Mormon beliefs that are barking mad. Any one of them should disqualify a President”.
    https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/232466159226728448

  4. 4
    jhendrix

    While I initially read the quote I had a kind of “Atheists, Fuck Yeah!” style reaction. However on reflection, I’ve come to understand the problem with that view, and think you have the right of it.

  5. 5
    WoolyBumblebee`

    “the suggestion that it would not be “sane” and “rational” to consider voting for a Mormon is just plain bigotry. Merely having a denominational affiliation does not dictate how qualified a candidate might or might not be to serve…”

    No, it is not bigotry, it is honesty. And yes, being religious does impact your every day decisions. To think otherwise is ridiculous. Stop trying letting your attempt at being so PC cloud your ability to think rationally. You are not being rational here. Sorry.

    1. 5.1
      WoolyBumblebee`

      Sorry, I meant ‘letting’ and not ‘trying’. Just to clarify.

    2. 5.2
      Deacon Duncan

      Sorry, can’t agree, at least in the general case. There are many people who have denominational affiliations for any number of reasons besides religions ones—family ties, cultural expectation, business advantages, etc. And even among those who are religious religious, there are many who, for purely pragmatic reasons, have grown into making a practical distinction between the beliefs they profess and the principles they actually live by (hence the famous Twain quote, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so!”).

      To dismiss someone solely on the basis of their denominational affiliation, without regard for their qualifications, abilities and past performance, is prejudiced and foolish. Being PC has nothing to do with it.

  6. 6
    MarkNS

    Drawing conclusions about someone’s belief and value system based upon their professed belief and value system is not bigotry. To be a Mormon (or a theist of any description) one has to be willing to believe things that are contradictory to evidence and common sense. That is not a trait that is of value in a leader. Mormonism also comes with a lot of vile “morality”. If Romney doesn’t want to be saddled with the association with these aspects of Mormonism, he should publicly disavow them. I hope Dawkins did make this quote.

  7. 7
    grumpyoldfart

    Religious people are nutcases and some are nuttier than others. I think voters should know the degree of craziness possessed by each candidate. It may be OK for candidates to think they’ll inherit their very own planet when they die, but what if the candidates are Christians looking forward to the Armageddon that heralds the Second Coming?

  8. 8
    OverlappingMagisteria

    Yea, that last line made me cringe. Though Romney does have wacky religious beliefs (just like any other candidate) he keeps them under control and I don’t get the impression that he would appeal to them in his policy making.

    1. 8.1
      astro

      Right. He appeals to whoever is picking up the check

    2. 8.2
      vel

      really? We have had this candidate saying that he totally agrees with the wingnuts of his party who *do* use their religion to try to force legislation that would influence everyone. Abortion rights, the teaching of science, the rights of women, the rights of homosexuals, etc. Let him in, those nuts in congress and idiots on the SCOTUS, and it’s theocracy. And then civil war as the Christians can’t agree on who are the “pure” ones.

  9. 9
    george.w

    One of our previous presidents moved our country to invade Iraq because of his reading of the Revelation of John. Presidential religious beliefs are absolutely fair game. It speaks to his or her ability to distinguish bullshit from buttermilk.

    And yes, a Mormon is crazier than a generalized theist. The more specific, counterfactual beliefs you espouse, the more walls you have to build inside your brain to defend them from other parts of your brain. Mormons, like Christian fundamentalists, are pretty insistent on those specifics.

    1. 9.1
      astro

      Romney’s Mormon faith is a choice along with the attendant tenets of his belief. This is not bigotry to bring it up. I don’t even know if bigotry can be applied to religion at all. It can be used against someone in a bad ad hominem kind of way, but attacking someone’s religion is essentially akin to ‘put up or shut up’. Romney could explain his faith or better, renounce it. One cannot renounce being gay or black.

    2. 9.2
      Pierce R. Butler

      One of our previous presidents moved our country to invade Iraq because of his reading of the Revelation of John.

      Got a link for that?

      1. ibbica

        Well, there’s this:
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/oct/07/iraq.usa
        “George Bush: ‘God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq’”

        But more specifically, I believe george.w is referring to comments made to Chirac, e.g.:

        http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=haught_29_5

        “Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.”

        This appears to be the original source, in French: http://www2.unil.ch/unicom/allez_savoir/as39/pages/pdf/4_Gog_Magog.pdf

      2. george.w

        Bush, Gog and Magog, in which the president of our country implored the president of France to join us in a quest to fulfill prophecy.

        Also there is his famous quote explaining why he didn’t consult his father (who certainly would have had some insight) on whether to invade Iraq. He told Bob Woodward that was the “wrong father” to ask and that he had a “higher father” to consult on such decisions.

        There are many more examples, but yes: it was his religious convictions that took us to war. So I damn well want to know about someone religious convictions before they take office, since in our culture religious convictions are immune to reason.

      3. Brian M

        I would be willing to bet that this is “well-meaning” (or ill-meaning) ex-post facto reasoning on W’s part. Because America is NOT a Christian nation nor are its elites fundamentally driven by Christian values, whatever they are.

        Bush invaded Iraq for insane Great Game/Power Politics rationales…and at the direction of America’s true “God” “Mammon”.

      4. nicksabot

        Jacques Chirac confirmed it. It was pre-war reasoning. http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=library&page=haught_29_5

      5. george.w

        His comment to Woodward was definitely after-the-fact, because he was asked by the journalist if he had consulted his father. And he couldn’t very well say; “Oil” although Cheney did.

        But the exchange about Ezekiel appears to have been his (conscious) reasoning at the time. I well remember his speeches, stuffed full of God-this and God-that.

      6. george.w

        Whoops, my apologies: it was Ezekiel, not Revelation.

      7. Pierce R. Butler

        Thank you for providing that bit of evidence – despite my having worked as an anti-war activist throughout the Bush years, that story about Dubious and Chirac had escaped me.

        Pretty much anything based on “Biblical values” is likely to be crazy, but Revelation usually waves the reddest flag of all. That passage from Ezekiel gets pretty extreme, too – I wonder if anybody’s tried ranking the component “books” on a scale of psychopathology…

      8. george.w

        I’m pretty sure they’d conclude God was a psychopath. Just the inspiration for our brave leaders.

  10. 10
    vel

    the quote by Dr. Dawkins is the truth. Is the truth about people who intentionally decry science when it shows their delusions to be lies, that think that they get magical planets to be lord over, etc, that it does influence how they act
    bigotry when that’s *exactly* what they think and do? I don’t think so: “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices”.

    Since voting for a Mormon who actually follows his religion *will* be a very detrimental thing to the country, and it can and will determine how he serves from every *scrap of evidence* we have seen, there is nothing bigotted in saying this straightforwardly. Having Mitt Romney, a Mormon, will harm the country because of his stances, and his religion’s stances on homosexuality, women, people of color, science, etc. If you can come up with any reason, any at all where these stances would not detrimental, then please do state it.

    1. 10.1
      Brian M

      The problem is, many, not all but many, of the flavors of Orthodox Christianity are equally vile. Especially the right wing ahistorical heresies which dominate the Republican Party today.

      Which leads to my “response”: Why even vote at all? They are ALL insane. The system demands insanity. You are not going to get anything but varying levels of insanity.

      why pick on Mormonism? The Baptists and Catholics are equally insane.

      1. Makoto

        I know the “vote for the lesser of two evils” is such a trope at this point, but really, it does make a difference. If you don’t vote because you want a better candidate than those offered, that’s a respectable position.. except that others are still voting per party lines for the most part.

        I will vote for Obama over Romney because I think Romney will screw up the country much worse.. and I feel like Romney supporters are more fired up simply because of their party, so my vote might offset some of those.

      2. Nemo

        I prefer the term “mainstream Christianity” in this context, since “Orthodox Christianity” implies the eastern churches rather than mere orthodoxy.

      3. Brian M

        good enough. “Mainstream Christianity”

        Althouhg as we see happening right now in Russia, there is plenty of crazy hidden behind the pretty icons and incense in the Orthodox Church as well.

  11. 11
    Denis Robert

    One of the major differences between Mormonism (at least as it stands today) and some other religions is that there’s no such thing as a “moderate” Mormon, and Romney is pretty much as devout a Mormon as you can find. Moderate Christians are willing to pick and choose from their religion what they agree with. Mormons rarely do so: they are almost all literalists.

    So yes: I’d be OK with a moderate Mormon president, or at least as OK with that as with a moderate Christian one. But Mittens is no such thing, and it would be unlikely that any Mormon running would have the same kind of ability to adapt to the real world that moderate Christians (or even moderate Muslims) exhibit. Even Harry Reid is far too devout for my taste.

    1. 11.1
      Denis Robert

      Just as an addendum: This is a man who believes that it’s evil to drink HOT DRINKS, for crying out loud. Not coffee, not tea: ALL HOT DRINKS. I think, of all the beliefs that Mormons espouse, this has to be the most arbitrary and idiotic: Chamomile tea is evil.

  12. 12
    Pteryxx

    Re verifying the quote source: apparently the statement in the image is a paraphrase of statements combined from Dawkins’ Twitter feed, links here:

    https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/232390597963550720

    Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins

    Yes, America STILL manages to reach Mars, despite half the country preparing to elect a man who believes he’ll get a planet when he dies

    https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/232466159226728448

    Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins

    @whataduzor But the private planet is only one of many Mormon beliefs that are barking mad. Any one of them should disqualify a President

    https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/232513551678455808

    Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins

    @LewFerrin @jtLOL @FHDaily It’s not bigoted to state what Mormons believe. Just true. Do you want a President capable of believing nonsense?

    and he’s discussing it here:

    http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/646684-celebrating-curiosity-on-twitter

    1. 12.1
      Pteryxx

      Deacon Duncan, I just posted source links for the quote which are in moderation, FYI. Thanks in advance.

      1. Deacon Duncan

        Much appreciated, thanks!

  13. 13
    pinkboi

    The quote made me uncomfortable because it’s so tribalist and simply incorrect. Dawkins should know better. Our country isn’t half rationalist and half nut-bag. Most Americans of both parties are religious. If anything, it’s the religious nutbags who were most bigoted towards Romney in the primaries both times he ran (except those whose religion happened to be Mormonism). It was in a liberal state that he got elected as governor.

  14. 14
    BecomingJulie

    I don’t see anything wrong with what Professor dawkins is saying.

    Romney is a Mormon. In order to believe in Mormonism for real, you would have to be full-on batshit insane. Otherwise, he is pretending to be a Mormon, i.e. full of bullshit.

    Either way, shit is shit.

  15. 15
    Bryony Vaughn

    Even if people think Mitt Romney’s Mormonism is fair game (and I think no where near the most important reasons to oppose him) and doesn’t smack of religious bigotry, I STILL have a problem with it. By singling out Mormons for having religious beliefs which would make them unfit for the presidency, it kind of gives a pass to other religious beliefs. George W. Bush talking to foreign heads of state about war plans referencing Gog and Magog in the book of Revelation? THAT is bone headed religious belief that should disqualify one from the presidency. Eisenhower was a Jehovah’s Witness and that crazy religion didn’t seem to harm his ability to be president.

    I think it’s far better for society to debate the important issues that will affect how a president will preside. Is some cases that’s their religion. Hopefully in most it is not.

  16. 16
    Jessie

    If a man claims to be a Mormon but then attempts to avoid answering the questions about his beliefs which might cost him the presidency, then it’s important to highlight quite how weird those beliefs are. They will inform decisions he would make as president and the sorts of advisors to whom he is likely to confer power and influence.

    I don’t trust him to keep his religious beliefs out of political decisions.

  17. 17
    Ashley Moore

    How about if he said ‘ the half that seriously contemplates voting for a Jew.’?

    I mean they think God wants them to cut the end of their penises off, that Cheeseburgers and prawn cocktails are EVIL and that God is their personal real estate agent.

    1. 17.1
      Brian M

      Yep… This pretty much sums up the sillyness of Dawkins’ argument. All Faiths believe crazy things.

      As for the “No Moderate Mormon” argument, that may be unfair, a bit. Even if you do believe crazy theology, people are very good at compartmentalizing things.

      The biggest problem I have with Mormonism is not the weird beliefs but the authoritarianism which seems endemic in many of the believers. Don’t want a ten story Missions Training Skyscraper in your single family subdivision? Protest at the Planning Commission hearing…until the Church pronounces that IT has made ITS decision, so just run along and obey, good little Mormons.

    2. 17.2
      BKsea

      “Jew” is a bit of a poor analogy here given that Jews are a cultrual group and a religious group. I would never vote for a members of certain Jewish religious movements, based on their beliefs about women among other things. I would never vote for a scientologist. I don’t think objection to a Mormon is any different.

      It is entirely reasonable to be critical of a person’s beliefs. To say you can’t exclude someone on the basis of their religious beliefs is giving special status to religion over other types of beliefs. It is like saying you shouldn’t vote against Romney because he is Republican. It shows bigotry against Republicans.

      1. Daniel Schealler

        Good point. Jews are also an ethnic group, right? Another reason why the analogy is flawed.

      2. Ashley Moore

        So where does the analogy break down in your mind? Is it bad to refuse to vote for someone before they are ethnically Jewish, but OK to not vote for them because they circumcise their children, keep kosher and perform Seder once a year?
        Since Catholicism isn’t an ethnicity, do you support the people who refused to vote for Kennedy solely because of his religion?

        Romney was born into a Mormon family, so he inherited these beliefs. Like most religion ideas, if Romney invented them himself, you’d be right to think he was crazy. But all his Mormonism tells you about him is that he doesn’t want to ostracise himself from all is family and social group by refuting these beliefs.

        To me, any policy that refuses whole classes for people is worrying.

      3. Daniel Schealler

        So where does the analogy break down in your mind? Is it bad to refuse to vote for someone before they are ethnically Jewish, but OK to not vote for them because they circumcise their children, keep kosher and perform Seder once a year?

        False Analogy (Informal Fallacy): Correlate functions or properties not necessarily seen with homogeny. If A has X and Y has B just can’t compare ’til they’ve both got C. See?

        ^_^

        If Dawkins had said: “… the half that seriously contemplates voting for a Jew,” that would be incredibly problematic. In my mind, it would be problematic primarily because it conveys racism against Jewish ethnicity.

        That problem doesn’t compare very well against “… the half that seriously contemplates voting for a Mormon,” because Mormonism isn’t an ethnicity. If what Dawkins said was problematic, then it must be problematic for a different reason to the primary one that would have made the comment about Jews problematic.

        A has racism. Y has religion. They don’t both got C. See?

        Since Catholicism isn’t an ethnicity, do you support the people who refused to vote for Kennedy solely because of his religion?

        You’re going astray here. I didn’t say here that Dawkins’ comment wasn’t problematic. All I said was that comparing Dawkins’ comment to a hypothetical equivalent that refers to Jews is a broken analogy, because the Jewish thing has other, stronger reasons for us to find it objectionable that do not apply to Mormonism.

        If you go further up the thread, you can find where I discuss Dawkins’ comment. But I can repeat it here if it makes things easier.

        I think it’s reasonable to use a politician’s religious profession as a heuristic for their soundness of judgement and/or level of honesty – to profess religion is to be either sorely mistaken about the nature of reality, or to be an opportunistic liar. In either case, those are good reasons not to vote for a political candidate. I know this is Dawkins’ view, because he says it all the time.

        The particular wording of Dawkins’ quote is problematic however, because it doesn’t convey the actual gist of Dawkins’ argument. And as you’ve observed here, the structure of the quote is such that it evokes strong connotations of bigotry as it shares a common syntax.

        I’d really like to know what context it was lifted from.

        I think that Dawkins’ underlying argument is sound, but that this representation of that argument is problematic and lacking.

        Romney was born into a Mormon family, so he inherited these beliefs. Like most religion ideas, if Romney invented them himself, you’d be right to think he was crazy. But all his Mormonism tells you about him is that he doesn’t want to ostracise himself from all is family and social group by refuting these beliefs.

        It also tells me that he takes these things more seriously than a sound understanding of reality, which for me is a key requirement in any decision-maker who’s actions will potentially have far reaching real-world consequences.

        Or, if I’m feeling ungenerous, it could be telling us that he’s playing up a religion he might not even believe in to pander to mainstream religious voters.

        As I said above: Either of these things are good reasons to not vote for a candidate.

        As I also said in an earlier comment: Christianity is nuts too. But Mormonism starts out with all the Christian nutty-ness, and then adds in a truckload of snickers bars along with it. If someone’s nonsense-threshold lies somewhere between Christianity and Mormonism, I can see why they might have a legitimate problem with one but not the other.

        Personally, of course I have a problem with both. But that’s just little old me.

      4. Ashley Moore

        It is nothing like being ‘bigoted’ against Republicans. Republicanism is a position in politics and voting is a decision in the political realm. Religion is (at least in theory) a separate domain.
        This is just as bad as people’s refusal to vote for atheists as President. Which is voting along social in-group lines, not policy.

        There are plenty of reasons to not vote for Romney, but a blanket veto of all Mormons is dumb. If his policy is in his mind, informed by his Mormon beliefs and it is bad, regressive policy, by all means rip it apart. But politicians should be judged on their policy, not their identity.

      5. Ysanne

        Thanks for saying precisely what I thought from the first reading of the Dawkins quote.

        There is a fine but still very important line between not voting for someone because of their religious beliefs, or because of how they apply said beliefs in the real world.
        I don’t mind if someone is believes crazy shit as long as they can and are willing to keep it private.

    3. 17.3
      slc1

      Since, at one time, 90% of American men were routinely circumcised and even today, the number stands at some 50%, let’s not pick on Jews (or Muslims) for that matter. Nearly all of these guys were born to Christian parents.

  18. 18
    Wendell

    It does appear to be a valid quote sort of. The first portion is a tweet and the last a comment he makes (http://bit.ly/MIGujz) of some things he would have said if he had more than 140 characters.

    While he is technically correct I do wish he had phrased it differently so it does not look as though his is particularly prejudiced against Mormons when the truth is that he (and I ) are equally prejudiced against all who believe in nonsense.

  19. 19
    gc

    “A Mormon” is very poor choice of words, it is a biased group label applied to a specific individual. I agree with your statement: “I do not regard Dr. Dawkins as a religious bigot, and I believe that this quote, if genuine, is merely an unfortunate and ill-considered choice of words.”

    A short 27 page, overview called “Understanding Prejudice” is offered at the Social Psychology Network:
    http://www.understandingprejudice.org/apa/english/

  20. 20
    Trebuchet

    Frankly, Romney being a CEO worries me at least as much, if not more, than his being a Moron. I mean Mormon.

    1. 20.1
      Brian M

      LOL.

      Exactly.

      His REAL religion, the one that governs how he really lives and how he really impacts the world, is the EXACT SAME RELIGION as most of the other members of his class…MAMMON.

  21. 21
    Leo Buzalsky

    Well, based on things I heard Dawkins say at the Reason Rally and the American Atheists National Convention back in March, he has tended to also state that he doesn’t think a lot of religious people actually believe the things in their church doctrine. He has, in other words, given people credit for being better than their religions.

  22. 22
    sisu

    Dawkins on Twitter on Monday 8/6:

    Yes, America STILL manages to reach Mars, despite half the country preparing to elect a man who believes he’ll get a planet when he dies

    and then in reply to others:

    @whataduzor But the private planet is only one of many Mormon beliefs that are barking mad. Any one of them should disqualify a President

    @LewFerrin @jtLOL @FHDaily It’s not bigoted to state what Mormons believe. Just true. Do you want a President capable of believing nonsense?

    1. 22.1
      Brian M

      But almost all current American politicians, certainly “serious” politicians at the national level, believe in a variety of things that are barking mad. Like giving tax breaks to bank fraudsters and vulture capitalists. Or unstinting support for Israeli policy. Or the need for hundreds of military bases spread around the world (believing that the United States can control the world for the benefit of its ruling elite is barking mad in itself, but…), that a solid percentage of the population should be harassed or jailed for the voluntary use of certain natural plants which are less dangerous than other subsidized substances. The list goes on and on. They are all “barking mad”.

  23. 23
    georgebean

    Mormons believe some nutty things. But then, most religions involve nutty beliefs. And most Mormons (except for Glenn Beck) are relatively harmless compared to the Abraham Vereide Fellowship cult, the Christian Reconstructionists and those in the New Apostolic Reformation.

    The real message here is that we managed to land a vehicle on Mars despite the fact that we’ve impoverished our national space program and half the citizenry are such “free market” fanatics they’d prefer to see it shut it down completely

  24. 24
    marcus

    I stand with Dawkins on this one.

    1. 24.1
      Deacon Duncan

      I stand with what Dawkins meant, I just think the actual quote is badly malformed, and inadvertently expresses an irrational prejudice against Mormons as a group.

  25. 25
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    I think it was poorly worded, and lacks context. Well, I haven’t gone looking for any, but it is delivered as a sound bite without context. But Dawkins didn’t posterize this quote and plaster it all over the place, either.

    I’ve easily said similar things. I wouldn’t say them in such a lax manner if I were expecting them to be quoted, be used as an official pronouncement or part of a political platform, be slapped into intarnet macros, or printed on banners.

    It’s a fucking quip.

    As it stands, I disagree with it, and find it a stupid thing that someone thinks this is quotable or insightful or should be spread as a meme. I find that far more stupid than Dawkins saying it.

  26. 26
    marcus

    Well, I say insofar as it exposes the stupidity of Mormonism in general and Romney in particular it is fucking gold. If this asshole is elected it a step back a hundred goddamn years. Sorry of the “tone” offends.

  27. 27
    maxdevlin

    “However, the suggestion that it would not be “sane” and “rational” to consider voting for a Mormon is just plain bigotry.”

    Do you see how tricky intellectual honesty can actually be? Dawkins never suggested or insinuated or indicated in any way that considering voting for a Mormon was not sane or rational. He said voting for a Mormon was not sane or rational. You can consider it all you like (you should consider all eligible candidates), but if you are sane and rational, you aren’t going to vote for him.

    So it is not a matter of prejudice, but predictability. It is not bigotry against Mormonism, but knowledge of Mormonism.

  28. 28
    terminus

    If Romney was a prominent member of the Church of Scientology would he still be a viable candidate for the Presidency? Would Dawkins’ quote still sound like religious bigotry?

    I am sorry, but if you use your religion as a means of self-definition, you must expect to be judged accordingly.

    I am an atheist. I don’t pray for guidance. I don’t think I will be saved upon my death, or that the 2nd coming can be hastened by rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem.

    Dawkins always provokes, but he is usually spot-on.

  29. 29
    Alex D.

    Dawkins is spot on. Romney is not “just a Mormon”, he’s not a Jack Mormon, he was a member of the Mormon clergy as a Bishop (Yes, I know it’s not a paid position but he was responsible for pushing the Mormon faith in a very active manner – He wears the magic underwear, supports anti-gay activism, and is a full card carrying member of this bat-shit crazy sect comprised of spokesmodels for the short sleeve dress shirt industry). I’d apply the same quote to Jehovah’s Witness, Adventists, Scientologists, and a few more groups without apology and be proud of it.

  30. 30
    Jafafa Hots

    So then what IS the acceptable level and/or form of delusion in a prospective President?

    1. 30.1
      Brian M

      To believe in social policies and economic ideologies well to the right of Richard Nixon is perfectly sane today.

      Plus, the candidate needs to mouth seriously vague prayers toward American Exceptionalism

  31. 31
    Piscador

    Not all religions are the same: some are nuttier than others. How about of Romney was a Jehovah’s Witness? Fundamentalist Orthodox Jew? Or a Scientologist?

    I don’t usually consider religion when voting for a candidate, but when the candidate’s beliefs cross a certain nuttiness threshold, it becomes a concern.

    For me, a Mormon president is just a little too far out.

    Afterthought: In JFK’s famous speech about his religion, he declared, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president, should he be Catholic, how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote.”

    Is Romney willing to make a similar statement? I think not.

  32. 32
    george.w

    In response to several people. I love this:

    “Mormonism starts out with all the Christian nutty-ness, and then adds in a truckload of snickers bars along with it.”

    As I said before, the more specific a religion, the crazier it is. And Romney is no casual Mormon; he spent a year of his life evangelizing door-to-door for his religion and has been very active since.

    Is there a minimum threshold of craziness? I wish. Instead I just have to look at two candidates and figure out which one is less crazy. In this case, it’s Obama, by a mile. Perfect, he ain’t, but he seems to understand some things Romney does not.

    Plus, you know, the whole “Corporations are people” thing. Romney layers greed on top of Mormonism, with anti-environmental sprinkles on top. Yeesh.

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