«

»

Aug 09

A Mormon President

We have two Republican presidential candidates that are Mormon. In lieu of this, Joanna Brooks discusses here how Mormons aren’t so bad (she is a Mormon herself). She looks to dispel five myths people believe about Mormons.

The campaigns by Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr. for the GOP presidential nomination, along with the popular and profane Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon,” are putting Mormons in the public eye. But common caricatures — not to mention some of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ public relations efforts — create confusion about this 14 million-strong religion.

I am not one to support any religious test for office, but I find something very odd here. We have a religion that is despised by Evangelical Christians able to have two prominent candidates for President. This a religion that is obviously false and has obviously crazy beliefs, yet, here these men are.

How many atheists are in this country? I would guess more than 14 million. But we cannot have a serious candidate for President. Something has gone wrong when reason cannot garner as much respect as lunacy.

This is not a Mormon-bashing post. This is me in awe that we seem to have a place for nearly every opinion in the American political landscape, save a few. Americans, it seems, can abide almost anything as long as it isn’t atheistic.

Similar Posts:

13 comments

2 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. Olin

    That’s because they subconsciously fear that if you have figured out that their Invisible Friend isn’t real, you may start to think rationally about the American mythos. You know… equality, opportunity, Truth, Justice and the American way.

  2. Mike

    Right, or that everyone has earned everything they have by the sweat of their brow – not like those lazy poor people.

  3. Moose

    That’s because atheists are negative jerks.

    “Random Chance in 2012!”

    “You’re basically the same as a monkey. Vote for me!”

    “No moral basis for anything in 2012!”

    “All your thoughts and emotions are an evolutionary illusion! Hooray!”

  4. Moose

    How would an atheist inspire hope for us “lazy poor people”?

  5. Mike

    But aren’t you being a negative jerk with your comment and you’re not an atheist?

    An atheist candidate would have policies for things just like others. It’s not like Romney’s policy ideas include his Mormonism, and neither would the atheist’s.

  6. Mike

    Oh yeah, and “Magic Underwear in 2012!”

  7. Moose

    I don’t really think all atheists are jerks, but I think they do have an arrogant public perception. To be honest Obama is probably atheist, and the Bush’s probably are too. But using religion as a political tool creates a perception of being a morally good person to the lay person, but we all know politicians are not the most moral of people. An honest atheist wouldn’t stand a chance in the public eye as a presidential candidate even if they were an excellent leader. But I don’t think an honest christian would either. To be a presidential candidate you have to be able to lie, cheat, and sell without guilt.

  8. Mike

    I also think there are some closet atheists in office, but that is part of my point. They fear being known as an atheist or agnostic because they know they’ll get the boot. Mormons, on the other hand, can be open and still be serious candidates.

  9. Moose

    But you have to admit that selling atheism as a positive thing is difficult.

    All major religions have a doctrine you can point to as a starting point for their beliefs and practices. It gives them a “ground” to stand on, so to speak. Even atheists don’t agree on how there non-belief should manifest itself. How would an atheist convince the masses of a moral ground in his belief system?

  10. Mike

    I don’t think it’s difficult. You could say something like, “My decisions will be made based on reasoning.” In fact, I think that’s what most candidates are trying to say. The vast majority of lawmakers don’t use some religious creed as the foundation of their governing decisions. So, I think your complaint is just completely off base.

    “Even atheists don’t agree on how there non-belief should manifest itself.”

    And Christians do agree? How many sects of Christianity are there? You wouldn’t be electing atheism, you’d be electing an individual – just like every other time.

    “How would an atheist convince the masses of a moral ground in his belief system?”

    As we discussed in my recent post on morality, I think the atheist is in a better position to ground morality than a theist. If you disagree, please tell me how you determine the right thing to do under your particular theistic model. Nearly all ethical systems don’t make any use of God as part of their reasoning. Similarly, nearly all political systems do the same. These are the relevant systems one uses to determine how best to do their job and do what is just when holding political office. Candidates mention their religion to say “Hey, don’t worry. I’m one of you.” But they don’t actually use it as part of their job.

  11. Moose

    First of all I think I’ve given the wrong impression. I think you’re being defensive. I am not trying to argue who is more moral, theists or atheists. I am more interested in how an atheist could sell himself in a positive way, without lying about his beliefs, to a public that is largely ignorant or not even aware of what’s going on in our government currently or historically (or religiously or everything in general). DUDE since when did you get named one of the 50 best blogs? I just noticed that. Sorry back to the topic: Making a statement like “My decisions will be made based on reasoning.” implies that people who are religious don’t have any reason, and therefore would be problematic for your candidacy.

    “Even atheists don’t agree on how there non-belief should manifest itself.”

    And Christians do agree? How many sects of Christianity are there? You wouldn’t be electing atheism, you’d be electing an individual – just like every other time.

    This is the type of question an atheist would be peppered with in town hall meetings and what not. If you gave this answer you would alienate christian voters and your not going to win without at least some christian voters.

    In conclusion: I don’t disagree with your answers but how could you answer these questions in a public realm and have people take you seriously. Let’s work this out, there certainly is a way to do it. Isn’t that the goal of your blog? To convert more people? If you can show people atheism is a good thing people like me will be less opposed to it even if we disagree. But I’m pretty open minded and most christians (people in general) aren’t so they would need some up-selling.

  12. Mike

    I don’t think I’m saying others don’t use reason. I’m saying I’ll be using reason just like anyone else would. I won’t be making laws based on atheism, I’ll be making laws based on some ethical/political system. So if I were running, for example, that system would be Rawlsian Liberalism. If people are looking for a box to put me in politically – that’s it.

    I don’t think of my goal as showing atheism is a good thing. I promote reasoning through issues and I think it’s uncontroversial that that’s good. So, if atheism is the conclusion drawn from that, then there shouldn’t be a problem. The question is whether atheism is the most reasonable conclusion. I’d consider the blog to be my ongoing argument in support of that.

  13. Ryan

    Moose,

    A good atheist candidate would point out that the same religion has apparently produced very different presidents, that politicians tend to define the Bible by their own beliefs rather than the other way around. (Obama made a similar point some time ago, when he noted that whether we emphasize Biblical slavery and children-stoning or the Sermon on the Mount tells us more about ourselves than the Bible.) If that is the case, then religion in politics is usually just a tool, so the atheist could assure voters that he would not attempt to manipulate them through their religious beliefs. With religion removed from the debate, we would not need to deal with the distractions of arguments based on millennia-old superstition and inflexible principles. Of course, the atheist might want to leave that last part out, but if he were confronted with a plain-faced Biblical challenge to science or a necessary political maneuver, I think he would come off as wishy-washy or unintelligent if he said, “You are entitled to your opinion.” Perhaps “You are entitled to your unscientific opinion” would be appropriate…

    To the less reasonable voters who believe that religion has a place in a government like ours, he would argue from a Rawlsian perspective, which Mike and I share. I could elaborate if pressed, but you can read for yourself if you aren’t familiar. Note the “original position” and “veil of ignorance” in particular. Secularism is the necessary result of this kind of philosophy, as it speaks to the basic interests we all share and is thus the best suited approach to dealing with diverse populations.

    As for these:

    ““Random Chance in 2012!”

    “You’re basically the same as a monkey. Vote for me!”

    “No moral basis for anything in 2012!”

    “All your thoughts and emotions are an evolutionary illusion! Hooray!”’

    The ideal atheist candidate would critique the inaccuracy of some of these claims and offer the positive interpretation of the others.

    -Random chance? Not exactly. There is a great deal of order and functionality in nature, as evolutionary theory and other sciences predict. There may not be a grand Designer, but perhaps that simply means that we have the opportunity to improve ourselves, since we are an imperfect species.

    -Basically the same as a monkey? We do not need to deny our bestial origins to emphasize the intelligence and cooperation that have taken us so far. In fact, since it is primarily these traits that have put us above other animals, we have all the more reason to pursue them. Selfishness and the glorification of ignorance do us no good.

    -No moral basis for anything? That claim actually says: “No objective moral basis for anything.” But the definition of objectivity essentially denies any possibility of an objective morality. Even if God told us what to do, it would be subjective because God would be the source. The goal should be for us to determine what best protects individuals and society as a whole, to find a balance between principles (which provide security and safety) and utility (which provides functionality and progress) and maintain a moral character that cares about questions of right or wrong in the first place. Moral relativism has always been around. The sooner we all accept this, the sooner we can discuss the merits of everyone’s positions. It might even usher in an era of genuinely moderate politics rather than excessive partisanship or compromise simply for the sake of compromise.

    -All of our thoughts and emotions are evolutionary illusions? I think that depends on how you define (or think you define) real and illusory. What is real thought or emotion? What is fake thought or emotion? Would you deny that damage to the brain can change thought and emotion? If not, how can biology be denied? Much of how we think things should be is based on how we have traditionally thought of them, but tradition is not a wonderful guide to truth or productive thought, even when–perhaps especially when–it makes us feel good. In any case, this claim is largely irrelevant, as we can all agree that we have thoughts and emotions regardless of their origin.

    I think about this subject often. I could go on, but I think I’ve made a fair case. Unfortunately, a fair case is probably not enough to get an overt atheist elected.

  1. A Mormon President | Foxhole Atheism « Feeds « Theology of Ministry

    […] from Google Blogs]: A Mormon President | Foxhole Atheism Tags: else-load, typeof-add, var-load Categories: Feeds You can leave a response, […]

  2. Russell Saunders and other atheists call for an atheist presidential nominee to right unbalanced political representation in America | God Discussion

    […] Foxhole Atheism ends with this thought about the inequality of voter representation in this country: How many atheists are in this country? I would guess more than 14 million. But we cannot have a serious candidate for President. Something has gone wrong when reason cannot garner as much respect as lunacy. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.