Since Mitt Romney's faith has once again been injected into the national political discussion, it would behoove us to examine his personal religious values and beliefs as he himself has expressed them, rather than through the lens of stereotypes.
From this experiment and others like it, we believe in an inborn sense of fairness. But there is more: primate studies also tell us something about empathy and altruism. In contrast to inequity, which is on the rise in our society, empathy appears in decline.
No one would be foolish enough to argue that the 2012 elections will be a cakewalk for either side. It will be tough, it will be dirty, it will be expensive, and it will be close. So, what is the GOP doing to tilt this relatively level playing field to its advantage?
Isn't the whole point of winning the office of president that you can talk to the nation without others belittling what you say? I began to think of some great presidential moments and what their rebuttals might have sounded like, had they been allowed at the time.
Over the past decade we have taken many long steps across the divide that separates a republic from an empire. The recovery of our proper ground depends on our seeing for ourselves the rightness of Abraham Lincoln's recoil from wars that are not wars of necessity.
As an atheist who lives in a culture that privileges religious expression, I believe that anti-atheist attitudes will be overcome through invested relationships with the religious, not combative shouting matches.
Perhaps President Abraham Lincoln's famous words of hope for a "... government of the people, by the people, for the people..." will yet ring true again -- with a little help from Russ Feingold and his growing movement.