Don’t get me wrong: I think religious literacy, as in knowing the history and beliefs of various religions including one’s own, is important for every citizen. And in answer to the question of whether voters should consider candidates’ religious beliefs, I should have added that people need to understand what each of the candidates’ religious beliefs are so as to understand better how that individual might govern. Beyond that…well, read on and let me know what you think.
Arena Asks: Bill Keller, Executive Editor of The New York Times, writes that the religious beliefs of Republican presidential candidates should be a factor in voters’ decisions. Does Keller have a point? Or does this view, as conservative radiotalk show host Hugh Hewitt suggests, “stoke the fires of religious intolerance by turning this presidential campaign into the occasion for an inquisition into all of the Republicans’ religious beliefs?”
My Answer: I do not care what people believe. I care what they do.
And because we are a diverse lot, all Americans should care deeply whether a candidate is–like Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann, and in fact most of the Tea Party darlings–so arrogant as to force their religion’s theology into laws that usurp not just the religious beliefs of the rest of us but even the bedrock American values of liberty and justice for all.