While Americans are more likely to vote for a gay candidate than an atheist, there has been an uptick in the percentage of those who say that their presidential choice’s faith plays no role in their decision — about six out of 10 Americans currently take that view.
This might be the case in research polls, but on the trail it’s hard to find. Today’s candidates wear their faith proudly, especially in the more conservative GOP vetting process. Democrats don’t get a free pass — Barack Obama’s religiosity has been repeatedly questioned, though then again, so has everything else about the man. Still, in the pursuit to the primaries, the right wing leans heavy on the god tip.
Which is why it was odd that Mitt Romney essentially got a free pass in 2012. While Obama’s connections to pastor Jeremiah Wright were highlighted for months (even years, in the fringes), it was taboo to discuss Romney’s Mormonism.
While nitpicking over faith is not the most critical element of any man's or woman’s campaign, understanding what they believe sheds insights into who they are as a person — and with every candidate trying to seem like the "people’s choice" right now, beliefs do play a role in the ability to lead, especially when a politician believes we’re living in "End Times."
Which brings up to Mike Huckabee. While he’s still over a week away from announcing — why have a countdown clock on your website when we already know what it’s for? — he recently stood atop Mt. Carmel in Israel right where the Armageddon is prophesied to go down. In a video he goes on to explain that if God calls on him, he’ll help bring the fire of heaven down to Earth, even if no one else listens.
Removing yourself from the pack is crucial in politics, which is why Huckabee stated that he’d stand there “even if there are hundreds and hundreds of false prophets on the other side.” Without that "other side," there would be nothing separating Huckabee from his competitors. He has to align himself with a divine entity otherwise his religious identity makes no sense. And to do so, there must be enemies; if everyone were on the same page, there would be no need for righteousness in the first place.
Speaking of righteousness: Ted Cruz. After strategically announcing his presidential ambitions at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, he’s taking his Seven Mountains Dominionist theology to the main stage. Like Huckabee, Cruz awaits the apocalypse, which, in rather explicit terms, means that government is one of the "seven mountains" that his brand of Christianity must overtake. In 2013, he stated:
"We understand that our rights come not from a king or queen, not from government, but from The Lord God Almighty. Today there are great challenges facing our nation, but if America is going to continue to stand strong, we must first be on our knees."
The catch, of course, is that only the espousers of such ideologies know exactly what their god wants; thus submission is accomplished through legislation. For Cruz, this includes banning abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, and introducing constitutional amendments to block courts from allowing gay marriages.
Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio share Catholicism, though for the latter it’s been a rocky road getting there, with this brief dabble in Mormonism. Rubio’s new brand of religiosity involves Christ Fellowship, the 13th largest church in the country. In this Miami hotspot, exorcisms chase the demons out of adherents; evolution is fervently denied; and the Earth is but 6,000 years young. Good luck with science funding while he holds office.
Bush too had a conversion, from Episcopalian to Catholicism. His PAC is called "The Right To Rise," with its ominous religious undertones. Unlike the other candidates, he says his faith serves as a “guide post” for his decisions, but he admits that not all his decisions line up perfectly with Catholic teachings — such as the many executions he’s overseen while in office in Florida.
Coinciding with Rubio’s creationism is Ben Carson, a Seventh Day Adventist, which, of course, means that he believes the Earth was literally created in six days. Obviously, then, evolution is out — rather surprising given Carson’s scientific pedigree. Yet neurosurgeons tend to get wacky ideas — I’m looking at you, Eben Alexander — that have nothing to do with reality. Welcome to the club, Mr. Carson.
And then we have Rick Perry. But seriously, how much longer will that last?
Don’t think I’m leaving the left behind. It’s just that nobody has stepped up to challenge Hillary Clinton yet (though Bernie Sanders is exploring the possibility; 9/11 truther Jeff Boss is in the mix for some reason; and then there's the man who already has my vote: Vermin Supreme). She’s spent her time so far blanketing the media with a dizzying tour, akin to Bush’s fundraising prowess: Both are trying to seem that they are the only viable contenders, in part by relying on name power, in part by sucking up all the money.
As part of her initiative, there’s Faith Voters for Hillary, a relatively benign campaign compared to others mentioned above. On the site she plays up her Methodist upbringing and throws a few biblical quotes into the mix, but otherwise she’s a running on a family values platform, even supporting a potential constitutional amendment to get hidden money our of politics — a tough pill to swallow from someone as corporate-backed as her.
Still, we won’t hear apocalyptic tales or anti-abortion rhetoric coming from Clinton’s mouth. For the most part, she’ll keep her religion under wraps, except when it suits her to give a shoutout to the g-o-d. How much that will influence her decisions if she should get into office, we don’t know. But for the other contenders, so far, that is not the case at all.
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