Does espousing any religion denote integrity or character? Not so you’d notice. Do we need to know if a politician has any religious beliefs? I can’t see that it’s any of our business; it tells us no more than his shoe size would. But I may simply be a snob, as I do find our pervasive obsessive interest in the lives of strangers deeply distasteful, if not despicable.
Of course, the unspoken political reality is that candidates have little choice but to profess conventional piety for even a prayer of being elected dogcatcher in this country. Given that fact, I would be shocked but delighted by any candidate with the courage and candor to acknowledge his or her atheism. However, in our current climate of rligious extremism, I fear that an avowed pedophile might garner more votes than an atheist
The hypocrisy of this attitude also disturbs me. I’m not sure people even expect a politician to tell the truth about religious beliefs, or much else, they just insist on hearing it, so they can convince themselves that they are voting for a "good, moral, god-fearing person." Like Bush and company? If they’re moral, we might be better off with scoundrels. If they bought the campaign rhetoric, surely folks would be more outraged by the flagrant lies, frauds and overall misconduct our representatives seem to lapse into once they’re in power. Instead, folks tend to shrug and say "oh, they all do that sort of thing," and just let it go. Unfortunately, that cynical resignation empowers and emboldens the crooks and liars. I’m not sure we always get the leaders we deserve–I can’t believe any of us have been sufficiently evil to have earned the present bunch, at least–but I do think we will get nothing better if we tolerate the slackers and toadies we have now. Nothing even embarrasses them, and they seem happy to do anything except the jobs we hired them for.