Religion, Politics, and Strange Bedfellows

No, wait–it’s actually good news this time!

I’m used to religious groups disagreeing with one another. I get really nervous when they start agreeing, cos it usually means an attempt at consolidating political power. And there’s nothing that gets a quarrelsome group to unite like a common enemy. And if you’re talking about uniting religious groups, who’s left to band against? So, yeah, it makes me nervous when 14 different religious organizations all sign on to one statement. (continues…)

The groups?

American Islamic Congress
American Jewish Committee
Anti-Defamation League
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
Interfaith Alliance
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Hindu American Foundation
Muslim Advocates
National Council of Churches USA
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
Sikh Coalition
Union for Reform Judaism
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

The statement? An interfaith statement of principles regarding religion in political campaigns. An excerpt (but go read the whole thing):

Candidates for office bear the primary responsibility for setting the proper tone for elections. Anyone who legitimately aspires to public office must be prepared to set an example and to be a leader for all Americans, of all faiths or of no faith.

What is ethical is every bit as important as what is legal. Therefore candidates for public office should:

• Attempt to fulfill the promise of America by seeking to serve and be responsive to the full range of constituents, irrespective of their religion.

• Conduct their campaigns without appeals, overt or implicit, for support based upon religion.

• Reject appeals or messages to voters that reflect religious prejudice, bias, or stereotyping.

• Engage in vigorous debate on important and disputed issues, without deliberately encouraging division in the electorate along religious lines, or between voters who characterize themselves as religious and voters who do not.

The press release accompanying the statement is also worth reading.

My psychic prediction? The religious divisiveness will continue, and will get worse. Because this is an election year. Four years ago, “atheist” was used as a pejorative in a Senate campaign, and we have already had Santorum issue and retract a statement using language calling Obama’s faith into question. So today’s statement is timed well, but I’m afraid they are up against a monster. I’ve seen enough Godzilla movies to know which side to bet on.

From 4 years ago, for those who didn’t follow the link, my verse from back then:

I proudly am an atheist;
I do not share your views.
Imagine how insulting,
When I watch the evening news
And I see you point at folks like me
Indignantly, with rage,
As if we were the lepers
Of a less enlightened age!
No need to watch your language
Or to treat us with respect—
Because demonizing us is still
Politically correct.

You’d never talk like this regarding
Blacks, or Gays, or Jews,
But with atheists, just look at all
The language that you use!
“Obama is a terrorist”—of course
The claim’s obscene;
But “Hagan is an atheist”?
The worst you’ve ever seen?!?
Comparing her to me is now
The lowest of the low?
It’s good I don’t believe in Hell—
I’d tell you where to go.

I proudly am an atheist
I proudly am a Jew
I proudly am a Christian,
And I’m proudly Muslim, too.
I’m proud to be both Gay and Straight
I’m proudly Black and White
I’m proudly Man and Woman
And I’ll proudly join the fight.
I proudly am Humanity,
Whatever that is worth;
There is no group below me,
Or above me, on this Earth.


  1. DSimon says

    What a hardcore awesome statement! I got really nervous on reading your introductory paragraph, but the statement itself, in its straightforward and unassuming fashion, is actually one of the cooler things I’ve read recently. I wish it the best of luck.

  2. baal says

    hrm, I don’t see Catholics on the list. Then again, The Church has taken a rightward lurch in its politics recently.

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