Religious questions

The NYT’s Bill Keller has posted a list of religious-themed questions that he sent to the current crop of presidential candidates, ostensibly to see how intertwined their political views are with their religious views, but more likely because it will attract the interest of political observers. (Hat-tip to Ramesh Ponnuru at NRO.) Here are my answers to the questions:

1) Sure it’s fair to question. To demagogue, no.

2) Yes. (I’m sensing an Obama-themed questionnaire thus far.)

3) Yes, America is a Christian nation, not in the sense that our government’s policies are informed by the teachings of Jesus Christ, but in that the majority of Americans are Christian.

4) This question is nonsense. I cannot conceive of a situation where following the Constitution means going against the tenets of Christianity. And if a law was passed that I must worship another God, must commit adultery or must lie, I will probably side with my faith. Doesn’t seem too likely though.

5) I don’t see how this would be relevant, seeing as “What is your religion?” is not a question that is asked of potential federal appointees. “Will you strictly follow and uphold the Constitution?” would suffice for me.

6) No, Mormons are not Christians. No it should not. (See my previous answer.)

7) Its influence is overrated. And to say that only Christians should hold secular positions is unrealistic. A Christian should pray that God would guide every leader in the way that He sees fit.

8) I think the question of whether evolution is true or not is irrelevant. A president has no authority whether it’s taught in schools — that’s a teacher’s purview.

And at this point, it’s useless to argue that evolution should not be taught in schools. It will be regardless. Though it would be nice if it was taught more as the theory that it is than as fact.

9) Yes. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause only prevents the federal government from establishing a state religion and from prohibiting a person from practicing their religion. By my reading, the First Amendment does not preclude prayer in public schools.

  • joshua4234

    3) America is also a white nation and a female nation, wording it this way is just weird. I reject that wording.

    4) Say perhaps a candidate thinks allowing abortion in society is against Christianity, but the constitution has been interpreted by court cases to allow it to take place legally. Something more like this.

    5) Some parts of society hate Muslims and atheists and don’t want them in government. I guess it’s interesting to see who they will pander to.

    6) I don’t care if anyone calls them Christians, since I’m not one, but I think their Mormonism might be more relevant because of the nature of the doctrines of Mormonism concerning the President of the church, similar to Catholics. I mean they literally believe another person can receive information directly from a god. Scary.

    7) Dominionism is probably over hyped, but I definitely wouldn’t want someone who believes it in the White House.

    8) Firstly, it shouldn’t just be up to teachers, we have curriculum for a reason, otherwise anyone could just teach anything they wanted. Secondly, you need to learn what theory and fact mean in a scientific context. The theory is like the model that explains why the facts are the way they are, we can even use it to make predictions. The theory is things like natural selection, genetic drift, gene flow, etc. It’s a fact that things evolved and speciated and have common ancestors. Just spend like an hour on wiki.

    9) I don’t think you read the first amendment right. It doesn’t say “Congress shall make no law establishing a state religion” it says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Let’s break this down, what is “an establishment?” You ever talked about a business by saying “this establishment?” Basically it’s an institution, so an institution of religion, aka church. Now what does “respecting” mean? Does it just mean establishing as a state religion? or perhaps treating it favorably compared to a different religious thought? This is why I take it to mean it shouldn’t give one religion preferential treatment to another, and thus by extension not prefer any religion or not having one. Thus, public teachers being an extension of the state shouldn’t lead prayer.

  • Calladus

    6) I see no difference Christians who accept the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Christians who accept the teachings of Martin Luther or John Calvin. “Jesus in America” makes as much sense to me as “once saved, always saved” or “Salvation through grace, not works.” All of these ideas came pass centuries after the supposed death of Jesus, and all are, or have been, considered “heresy” by the “true” Church.

    What I do notice is that almost every Christian denomination is quick to judge who is, and who is not a “true Christian”. And we all know what the bible says about judging, right?

    8) As long as we are teaching evolution as “only a theory” we should also teach the germ theory of disease as “only a theory” or the theory of heliocentricism is “only a theory”. Perhaps we should – along with creationism – teach that disease is caused by miasmas and that the sun, planets and universe revolve around the Earth.

    In other words, yes, you misunderstand the word “theory” as used by scientists.

    9) Every child is free to pray in school. What is forbidden is for the teacher to lead the prayer, or for the school to sanction the prayer. What if your child’s teacher were Islamic? Should she be allowed to pull out prayer mats for the students and lead them all in prayer? Would you support that?