The media runs Barack Obama through the wringer for his close association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, an angry, controversial preacher who has suggested that the U.S. government manufactured HIV to kill black people. Reporters call John McCain to task for having been endorsed by the divisive pastor John Hagee, who probably isn't a FaceBook friend of many Catholics, Jews or New Orleans residents. Rev. Wright has some valid points to make about racial inequality in the U.S., but on certain topics he is out to lunch, as is Hagee. If we are to condemn Obama and McCain for such associations (which obviously differ in degree), isn't it time to apply a similar litmus test to all candidates for higher office?
What if we were to disqualify all candidates with ties to delusional religious folks? Mind you, I'm not taking a Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion") position here in regards to religion. The existence of a superior being or energy, the origin of the universe(s) (pre-Big Bang), and the ultimate nature of reality are truths that are somewhat beyond our grasp at the moment. And I think are many wise preachers, rabbis and mullahs with highly evolved, rational minds. Rather, I am speaking of spiritual leaders who cling to outlandish beliefs.
So, here is my Delusional Spiritual Ally Test.
As a politician, you will disqualified from Congress, the White House or Supreme Court if you have attended the sermons or sought the endorsement of any religious mentors or allies who espouse any of the following ideas:
1. 9/11 was America's punishment for its sins or secularism
2. Hurricane Katrina was God's judgment on New Orleans
3. The world was created 6,000 - 10,000 years ago
4. Creationism should be taught in science classes
5. AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality or other sins
6. The U.S. government invented the HIV virus to wipe out minorities
7. The Rapture is almost upon us (*includes any millennial thinking)
8. All religions other than mine are false or evil
9. The anti-Christ is in league with the United Nations
10. My God is bigger than your god
Sincerely, if you accept any of the above, you are delusional (and I know what that says about a large swath of America). We should therefore disqualify all politicians with ties to Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye, James Dobson, Paul Crouch, and the late Jerry Falwell, all of whom adhere to at least a few of these beliefs. I also include those who seek the counsel of other fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Muslims with logic "left behind" in left field.
Okay, so Obama's out (Rev. Wright, #6). Bush would never have made the ballot. McCain would be disqualified for having sought the approval of an angry, controversial preacher given to delusionary thinking (Jerry Falwell: #1, 3, 4, etc.), and for having celebrated the support of another half-baked man of God (Hagee: #2). McCain once called leaders of the religious Right "agents of intolerance" and now panders shamelessly to them. He strove to make amends with Falwell by giving the commencement address at Jerry's fundamentalist Liberty College in 2006. That should give one pause. Let's hope McCain's appearance there was merely hypocrisy in action. If he wins the presidency do we want him seeking the counsel of his "higher father" on national security issues? That hasn't worked well recently.
In all seriousness, a politician should not be held accountable for the views of every author he has read, every preacher he has heard, or even every mentor he has had. We are all on a life-long learning curve and have had friends and bosses and associates and loved ones whose views now differ drastically from ours. We all learn and grow (we hope). What counts is what Obama or Clinton or McCain themselves believe now. We are voting for Obama, not Wright, or for McCain, not Hagee. It becomes a problem only if a candidate embraces absurd theories that impede their ability to govern or believes he or she is on a mission from God....
And with a little luck, we won't go down that road again.
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