THE BLOG
04/16/2008 03:22 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Religion in Politics: Does Anyone Really Believe Obama, Clinton and McCain Are Particularly Devout?

Regarding the recent brouhaha about whether Barack Obama insulted small town religious beliefs at a recent San Francisco fund-raiser, and the joint pouncing upon that fact by the Clinton and McCain forces (not to mention Obama's defensive remarks), I can only suggest it's time to say "Enough with the competition for who believes in God the most!"

I'm really tired about the fact that it's become increasingly common for presidential candidates to insist how much religious belief plays such a prominent role in their lives no matter how progressive and forward thinking they purport to be.

And how much the media perpetuates its supposed significance.

I have no proof to discount what the preponderance of politicians say, but I hereby suggest that it's all a lot of bunk. There are occasional candidates, such as Joe Lieberman (whose politics generally revolt me) who appear to have led their lives in strict conformance with the tenets of a particular religion. However, most of these folks' pronouncements, including the ones in the public eye today and in spite of their very public attendance at Sunday services, seem designed to appeal to a mass audience of believers rather than actually provide an indicative revelation of the devout convictions they presume to uphold.

These candidates are among the high and mighty, are well traveled and also well educated and would, I believe, be hard pressed to fall prey to doctrinaire thinking unless it suited them politically. How else to explain Mitt Romney's "conversion" to right-wing political theory in his abandonment of abortion rights and gay partnerships when he was no longer running for governor of progressive Massachusetts, as he attempted to convince mainstream Republicans that he was truly one of their own?

It's equally hard to believe that either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would be so committed to spiritual teachings, considering their backgrounds and academic experiences. Nor even that John McCain, a man with playboy adult beginnings, family connections and ambitious meandering while a Naval Liaison to the U.S. Senate, would consign his mindset to the limited viewpoints that pervade many orthodox religious followers.

And by the way, why is it so important that any of our major candidates or candidates for anything other than church or synagogue leadership be obliged to submit to these expectations? Shouldn't competence and a moral persona be the ultimate arbiters as to whether we select one or the other rather than their unceasing and sometimes nauseating attempts to top each other with how much faith plays a part in their lives?

What if belief in a higher power is not a major factor in a candidate's convictions at all? Should we discount those with the courage to admit this apparently unpopular blasphemous trait, in spite of the fact that he or she might be a terrific and lovely human being, with charitable instincts, good ideas and the capacity to instill confidence in our well being?

Let's do away with religion as a necessary and evidently weighty requirement for public office and instead pay more attention to the aforesaid qualifications. It would be a helluva lot more honest and possibly achieve the level of leadership we as a nation sorely need.