All too often religious people equate faith with moral behavior. As a Muslim, I can attest to the fact that this is not always the case. As a former atheist, I can also attest to the fact that I was raised not only with a strong moral orientation, but also with the theoretical background, critical thinking and analytical skills needed to make sound moral choices.
Members of these groups often disagree about the meaning of religious freedom and church-state separation, qualifications for public office, modes of civic participation, and a host of others public issues.
We as religious leaders should live exemplary lives to add credibility to our preaching. Give them fresh answers without any religious stigma attached. Listen to what the people have to say before giving your opinion to them. Accept the people who and as they are. Make religion lively and not stagnant.
The concept of church-state separation does not require the eradication of religiously informed moral values from public policy discussions any more than it requires that those involved in the discussion must believe in God.
The polls that show that Americans are bothered by the presence of atheists, and would not vote an avowed atheist into office, speaks to the way we live in myth.
There is much work for both believers and non-believers to do in helping to erase the distrust that the mainstream of the society has against atheists.
Americans, of all people, with our unflinching commitment to religious liberty, should refuse to disqualify candidates seeking political office who do not believe in God.
The fundamental problem is this: In the absence of God, who is in charge? If God does not have absolute authority and dominion over human life and human rights, then who does? The government?
Religious organizations promote a single belief and an important worldview including the duty to help the poor and persecuted even if they do not share our religious belief.
Let’s say you had a candidate who was skeptical of some portions of the Bible. Would you vote for that person?
The Christian majority in the United States is called to love their enemies and so certainly must also love philosophically mistaken fellow citizens.
There’s no reason we should be left behind in the realm of public acceptance, especially when there are so many of us out there who don’t see any evidence for a god’s existence.
Better to live in a society with a healthy mix of belief, skepticism, curiosity, argument, and confusion than one where God, or godlessness, is officially sanctioned.
A person may not believe in the existence of God but could be a morally and ethically upright person while the converse could equally be true.
For many religious people, ritual and law and faith in God help cultivate and reinforce compassion and wisdom. But if the atheist running for office happens to get there some other way, he has this rabbi’s vote.
Quaker John Woolman, an 18th century mystic, wrote “There is a principle placed in the human mind which is pure and proceeds from God; deep and inward, it is confined to no religion nor excluded from any where the heart stands in perfect sincerity.”
As an atheist, I just about always vote for political candidates who say they believe in God. Not because I’m impressed by their professed God beliefs, but because I have no other choice.
We cannot, as Queen Elizabeth I said wisely many centuries ago, cut windows into people’s souls. I can see what you do, but must take your word for what you believe. So if you are to be a public servant, show me what you do.
Humanizing those with different religious and philosophical worldviews is essential to ensuring that pluralism is upheld for all communities.
According to new research, “for the religious, reading that atheism was rather more common than they previously believed had a remarkable effect: it effectively abolished their distrust of atheists.”
In a time in which religion is often chosen purposely rather than assumed as a family inheritance, the proclamation of personal belief is an insight into a political figure’s values.