In the marvelous The Week magazine (March 2007 edition quoting a USA Today / Gallup poll), it was disclosed that 53% of Americans wouldn’t vote for an atheist for U.S. President (and, unsurprisingly but just as sadly, 43% said they wouldn’t vote for a homosexual, either). Barring a horribly worded poll question—which, I concede, isn’t out of the question—I’m guessing the real percentage of Americans who are prejudiced against atheists is even higher; assuming the poll was done by phone or in person, I can imagine some people thinking to themselves “Well, darned if I’d ever support one of them goin’-to-hell types, but I gotta sound enlightened here and not admit it!”
You know, I don’t care what people believe in: the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Boogie Man, or—my personal favorite and Savior—The Flying Spaghetti Monster… nor do I care whom they sleep with (men, women, or even The Flying Spaghetti Monster Himself, though I admit that could get messy), as long as no one gets hurt. For instance, a pediatrician saying, “I’m sorry, son, I can’t see you today unless you pledge allegiance to Harvey, my invisible rabbit”… that would be wrong. And weird… though (IMACANSHO) not a jot weirder than lots of other belief systems out there.
Personally, I’d actually be happy to elect anyone as President—regardless of his or her religion or sexual habits—if he or she would fulfill just some very basic criteria:
– Has visited at least four countries in three continents. And not just on business.
– Can read—and speak—at higher than a sixth grade level.
– Is respected by more than half a dozen world leaders. And not the machete-wielding ones, either!
– Has publicly admitted to being wrong… and apologized!
– Has an innate sense of curiosity about the world… including people, science, the arts, etc.
And, most importantly…
– Views the world LOGICALLY. Doesn’t make decisions to appease some invisible being or out of “faith” or whatever… because all of us, dammit, are likely to see *different* invisible beings depending upon what we’ve ingested recently… and frankly, it makes a hell of a lot more long term sense to have faith in science and scientists (who haven’t been muzzled by bureaucrats, but that’s another story). A candidate who avoids run-on sentences would be even a better man than I! 😛
And, a helpful example:
WRONG: “I’m signing this bill because the Flying Spaghetti Monster told me that it’s the right thing to do.”
RIGHT: “I’m signing this bill because all independent research consistently shows it’s the logical choice based upon a thorough assessment of risks, opportunities, and benefits.”
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So, zigging back to the original issue, I really don’t get why people would care about the belief system of their President. Then again, I also don’t get why many people elected our last one because—and, as Dave Barry would say, I swear I am not making this up—they could really themselves see chuggin’ a beer with him. Look, I know lots of guys who are amiable and often quite entertaining (and frequent) bar dwellers. However, I sure as hell wouldn’t want them as my neurosurgeon. Or life advisor. Or Leader of the Free World.
No, I’d like to have someone who is insanely smart and sober and thoughtful. Even a total nerd. Sure, it’d be nice if he were social enough to not bungle through pleasantries with other heads of state, but I bet even the most socially awkward nerd wouldn’t be runnin’ around giving unsolicited shoulder massages. Honest. And wouldn’t that be a delightful improvement right there? 😀
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In the meantime, it really saddens me that so many folks harbor such a prejudice against atheists, homosexuals, and, indeed, probably anyone who “threatens” their intellect, sexuality, or overall belief structure. How is it that so many people—especially (I’m also sad to say) Americans—are so damn insecure?
Look, I think ABBA wrote delightful music. I get teary-eyed at many Sondheim musicals. If you don’t feel the same way,
hey that’s hunky dory. As long as you don’t get elected as President and say… okay, due to my undying love for ABBA and Sondheim, I am going to put 42% of our budget into ABBA and Sondheim museums in every city. In the world! We’re going to take over Funkistan and put museums there for the ABBA- and Sondheim-less heathens!
Fine, fine, I’m getting a bit silly. Belief in invisible beings is, I suppose, more profound than my tastes in music and theatre. And, you might argue, someone’s belief system might guide them in their executive decisions. Wars in the name of spaghetti sauces. Tax policies to favor yellow marshmallow peep production. And that, my friend, would be wrong. Very wrong.
Logic transcends all of this. If only so many folks weren’t quite so busy forcing beliefs on others. Maybe if we had just had better logic and statistics teachers in school? Hmm….