America: More Likely To Elect A Gay, Muslim, Former Drug User Than An Athiestby Doug Mataconis
That is the somewhat interesting result of a recent New York Times poll:
THE probing about his Mormon beliefs has by now become familiar to the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But when Mary Van Steenis, a teacher at a local Christian school, took the microphone at a recent â€œAsk Mitt Anythingâ€ forum in Pella, Iowa, to ask her question, it still felt as if some sort of unspoken boundary of social etiquette had been breached.
Mrs. Van Steenis wanted Mr. Romney to say where the Book of Mormon would figure in his decision making as president.
â€œWhere would the Bible be?â€ she asked. â€œWould it be above the Book of the Mormon, or would it be beneath it?â€
Although the Constitution bars any religious test for office, if polls are to be believed, Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, faces a serious obstacle to winning the presidency because of his faith. Surveys show a substantial percentage of Americans would be less likely to vote for a Mormon, or for that matter a Muslim or an atheist. But how rigid is that sentiment?
Just take a look at the numbers and it seems pretty rigid.
This is why candidates appearing at churches and Presidents invoking God are part of the public religion of the United States. The voters expect it, heck in some parts of the country I’d go so far as to say they demand it. This is hardly surprising, since the United States has always been a far more openly religious country than most of the West.
And repression has often been part of the package.
The Puritans, for example, didn’t come to the New World for religious freedom so much as they came so that they’d be able to impose their own brand of religious tyranny free from interference by the Church of England. And it happened in other colonies as well, with the exception of Quaker dominated Pennsylvania. That’s why we have a First Amendment and that’s why the Constitution specifically provides that there is no religious test for holding office.
But Constitutional amendments can only go so far. Toleration for other’s beliefs is not something that can be imposed, it must be learned. And it would seem we still have a long way to go.