“Aren’t a persons beliefs, or lack thereof, still going to influence their actions/decisions? So someone’s ability to vote for a candidate based on their lack of religious conviction is the same as someone voting for a candidate with religious convictions. It goes back to the information-beliefs-decisions-outcomes model. A candidate’s stance on any issue is based, at least in part, on their beliefs. Religion is often the foundational aspect of those beliefs (i.e., the information). So, I can vote based on what a candidate thinks about immigration, but not the Bible? Or does this just go back to the fear of a government endorsed religion?
In addition, isn’t it hard to find a candidate who doesn’t “follow” a “religious document\”? Even an individual that does not ascribe to any specific religion still has philosophical and metaphysical beliefs that guide them. We are human and our beliefs are like breathing. We cannot do without them. We cannot promise to keep religion, or even secular humanism, out of the government. I’ve stated elsewhere that I would support someone who said, “I’m an atheist,” more than someone who says, “I’m a Christian, but it won’t effect how I run the nation.” I can at least respect the atheist for being honest. However, their belief system will affect the way they run the nation, so I must look at how that will be reflected in their policies.
What if a candidate did not value life based on a religious or non-religious aspect of their beliefs? (I’m going out on a limb here.) I believe that America should intervene more in what is going on in Darfur, Sudan to save thousands of lives. You’re telling me I should not consider their foundational belief before voting?”
The dirty little secret of the First Amendment is that the Framers used the wrong word. The problem is not religion, but theism and other forms of belief with no basis in observable fact. That is what has caused trouble throughout history, including the trouble that prompted the Framers to adopt the First Amendment.
So you’re right, we do need values. But we don’t need “values” that have nothing to do with human welfare. We are all influenced by our belief systems, but the test that separates appropriate from inappropriate behavior is whether the public servant is acting on behalf of all, or only a few; and if the acting is done on behalf of a particular “religious” view that is not common to all, then it does not pass muster.
There’s no getting around the need for values—- things like honesty, fairness, justice, liberty, equality. In short, the values of secularism. Technically, if you categorize secular humanism as a religion, which I do, then what are the implications of a secular Constitution? Theists make that argument all the time, but their dirty little secret is that they would have us do away with the organizing principles of the Constitution, which are clearly stated in its Preamble. Those are the the tenets of a religion, but it is a civil religion, and the principles are common to everyone. I don’t know of any other way to make a government that works for and is fair to everyone. If you can think of one, please be sure to let us know.