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Secular coalition grades presidential candidates
October 17th, 2012
09:11 AM ET

Secular coalition grades presidential candidates

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – When judged on their ability to relate to the desires of secular Americans, the presidential candidates aren’t making the grade, according to a large coalition of secular organizations.

Looking at their positions on everything from faith’s place in the presidency to where it fits in education, health care and other American priorities, GOP candidate Mitt Romney got an F, President Barack Obama barely got by, earning a C, and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson came out at the top of the class, receiving a B.

At a time when the Pew Forum determined the religiously unaffiliated are the fastest growing “religious” group in America, with one in five Americans not affiliated with any religion, a candidate scorecard from secularists should matter, says Lauren Anderson Youngblood, spokeswoman for the Secular Coalition for America.

The coalition, which is made up of a collection of atheist, humanist and agnostic organizations, set out to grade the candidates by first identifying the criteria it deemed most important. The coalition then crafted questions to determine where the politicians stack up when it comes to, say, their stances on faith-based initiatives, public prayer and support of the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. The group pulled media reports and speech transcripts to find answers and further analyze these politicians’ performances on issues that matter to secular voters.

The coalition asked, for example, “What role would religion play in the candidate's decision-making as president of the United States?”

Based on an Obama speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2012, one in which the president said he has “fallen on my knees” and asked God for guidance “in the life of this nation,” the group handed down an F. But Romney didn’t fare any better – earning the same grade for saying in his 2007 speech on faith in America that he “will also offer perspectives on how my own faith would inform my presidency, if I were elected.”

Marks given for various questions were then added up to determine the candidates’ final grades.

Though the goal in doing this was to “help people who vote on secular values” decide who to vote for, the coalition spokeswoman believes the results could be valuable to the candidates, too.

“Political parties need to learn how to reach out to the secular community, and I think tools like the scorecard will help them do that,” Youngblood said.

The scorecard faults Obama on his continuation of faith-based initiatives, his support of keeping “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and his participation in prayer events. Obama earned As for his recognition of America as a secular nation, his appreciation of the separation of church and state, and his support of science in education.

Out of 17 categories, Romney received two As – for his support of science in education and his willingness to appoint someone secular, which he said he would do in a 2007 interview with NBC’s Tim Russert. Romney’s more common grade, though, is an F, where the coalition faults him for his use of faith in decision-making, his stance on separation of church and state and his use of religious beliefs to determine public health care policy.

Youngblood told CNN that the coalition did send questionnaires to each campaign, allowing them to answer for themselves, but no one responded – a result she called “unfortunate.”

“Many of them have religion and government intertwined,” Youngblood said, “and we are not even on their radar, not even important enough to return our questionnaire.”

But one party in particular may soon have to take notice, says John Green, a senior adviser to Pew.

Pointing to 2008 exit polls and findings that 63% of the religiously unaffiliated identify with or lean Democrat, he said that group may be poised to gain a foothold, much as the religious right gained power in the GOP in the 1980s.

For many secularists, agnostics and atheists, a standing and recognized influence can’t come soon enough.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Barack Obama • Belief • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (325 Responses)
  1. realbuckyball

    All candidates for an office which allows them access to the "briefcase" with nuclear codes, needs to affirm the following, before running for office, and before talking the oath of office :

    I, Joe/Jane Blow, do hereby swear and affirm, that I do not accept that in this room, here and now, there are actually demons, angels, invisible beings, invisible devils, invisible pink unicorns, or gods, and that if I begin to think there are, I will seek immediate Psychiatric help, and hand over the reins of government to someone sane, and capable.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • NoMore

      Congratulations. You officially have the mark of the beast ingrained in your pea brain.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Yes. I would feel safer knowing that someone who could initiate a nuclear winter has no worries about punishment in the afterlife–wouldn't you?

      October 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      "mark of the Beast'
      Heh heh. grow up.

      Van hagar
      Grow up

      If the ONLY reason YOU do anything, is because mommy is going to wup your ass, you are one sorry ass indeed.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Really? You suggest I grow up and then you resort to a listless insult. Classic. O.k. you won the debate. Congrats.

      October 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • LinCA

      Very few things are scarier than a trigger to weapons of mass destruction in the hands of someone who believes he has a god on his side.

      October 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Anybody know how to read?

      LinCA, how 'bout just a plain ol' narcissist? That holloweeny enufff fer ya?

      October 18, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Bob

      Because all the greatest leaders the world has ever known have been atheists? LOL

      October 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Anybody know how to read?

      You said, "how 'bout just a plain ol' narcissist? That holloweeny enufff fer ya?"
      Yeah, that alone makes Romney unfit for office, but it isn't nearly as scary as his professed beliefs in imaginary friends.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  2. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    there is big time misunderstand of word A L L A H, Christians, Atheists, Jews or hindus, call ELLAH or ALLAH, self center ism by fundamentals of Persian language, they are not noun's but an adjective, an act of a person in a delusional given state, Human ELLAH or ALLAH can never be in state of delusional, denial of truth absolute in a permanent state. So to claim to be an Isla mic a secular in permanent state is re'tarded ism, denial of truth absolute, Truth absolute is not GOD but GAWD, foundation of American consti pation and essence of existence for every trouble in middle east, and matter.

    October 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Knock knock
      Who's there ?
      Islam.
      Islam who ?
      Islam the door on you.

      "al-Ilah" was the crescent phase of the Arabic moon cycle. All of Arabia worshiped the moon-god. Allah is just the development of that.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      al-Ilah meant "the god", as in the "generic" god.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • NoMore

      Pea brain, satanists worship the moon.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  3. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    goon people suggest I should seek professional help, my professional help is my ALLAH, AL, The, LA, Limited, H or T, truth, denier of GAWD, consti pation of Americans.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      There are absolutely no gods, absolute truths, or absolutes.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Not Deceived

      Come on Tom, the only absolute the atheists know is Vodka.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Typical "demonization of the other" by theists, whose (supposed) god told them "Judge not lest ye be judged".

      October 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You mean Absolut? Even Absolut only goes to 100 proof.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      "Absolute" is the "Reification fallacy.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  4. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    "HARAMEE" mean's nothing else but believer of truth absolute ALLAH, goon Taliban as saviors, none other , founding fathers of Mecca, rejected Sunni ism, corruption of truth absolute, religion's and obeyed truth absolute GAWD, and made truth absolute God, foundation of American consti pation by hoodlums of Arabian origin. Period.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, ignorant by faith.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  5. Rational Libertarian

    Good ol' Johnson. Not my favorite Libertarian, but far better than the other two idiots.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  6. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    "Diests" mean's nothing else but believer of truth absolute as GOD, none other , founding fathers rejected hinduism, corruption of truth absolute, religion's and obeyed truth absolute GOD, and made truth absolute God, foundation of American consti tution. Period.

    October 17, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      If you think that anyone is reading more than 3 words of what you post you are truly a delusional person.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      hindu's, deniers of truth absolute have no excuse left for their hinduism, denial of truth absolute GOD, Do not worry about other's, every one is not a hindu, liar like you.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  7. STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

    there is big time misunderstand of word Secular, Atheist Jew or hindu, self center ism by fundamentals of language, they are not noun's but an adjective, an act of a person in a given state, Human can never be in state of hinduism, denial of truth absolute in a permanent state. So to claim to be a hindu, Jew, Atheist or a secular in permanent state is hinduism, denial of truth absolute, Truth absolute is GOD, foundation of American consti tution and essence of existence for every one thing, and matter. As it is quoted by
    Rainer Braendlein
    America needs the divine wisdom of the genuine American Benjamin Franklin again.

    Benjamin Franklin, the First American, about the faith (this is from his Autobiography which is even available online):

    I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and tho' some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I esteem'd the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, tho' with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mix'd with other articles,

    which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, served principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another. Fouding father's were perfectly right to reject hinduism, denial of truth absolute GOD, because religion's were created by hindu's, criminals by hinduism, corruption of truth absolute GOD.
    To see what founding father's of America were in realization and reason they rejected religion's as part of American consti tution please visit, limitisthetruth.com. .

    October 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Micky Mouseism source of Filthy word saladism

      Word Salad is the Source of intellectual dishonisty and delusionalism, seek a coherant form of communication before it is too late!!

      October 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      Way of a hundu, denier of truth absolute GOD to escape from acceptance of truth absolute. Use intellectualism to refute post than finding an excuse to escape. hindu, denier of truth absolute.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Not Deceived

      As usual, the nonbelievers that mock God have nothing to say but their egos propel them to write, just the same.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      The man of a million handles strikes again.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • STOP MURDER OF CHILDREN , Human be aware of hindu filthy dog's of hindu Atheism, self center ism , DENIAL OF TRUTH ABSOLUTE GOD.

      There are not two or more ways but only one way, WAY OF THE THE TRUTH ABSOLUTE, GOD, As he commanded for humanity, about Consti tution of truth absolute, SPEAK TRUTH, NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH ABSOLUTE, foundation of American consti tution, denied by hindu's traitor's, claiming to be American in hinduism, deception.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Ooga Booga Booga

      October 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Veritas

      ND. In reality the religious have nothing to say apart of science-denial so they can cling to their ancient superstitions. Nothing to do with atheist's ego.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I'm still trying to wrap my head around the concept of Hindu polytheistic atheism...

      October 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      So you accuse the atheists of not saying anything.....by not saying anything yourself.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Not Deceived

      Rational Libertarian, it's not the handle that is used, it's the message being made.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Which is that cheese is equidistant between Slurm and poop fish horse embargo.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Bob

      Religion coexists with science just fine. Atheists are just not able to coexist with religion because they're all too smart to learn the truth.

      October 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  8. Bob

    It's so funny how hard the atheists are trying to get a voice and how myuch CNN is trying to help them. First the misleading "Pew" report, and article after article of how this or that one supposedly important person doesn't believe in God, and now this.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Let's All Bow to the Saudi King...

      They're just doing their job. Conservatives just need to do their job better. Romney had several openings last night to shut down both Barry and Crowley. We need Eisenhower. We have Ford. I'll still take Ford over Obama.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bob,

      the Pew Report is quite clear about what they mean by "unaffilliated". That people choose to misinterpret it does not make it misleading.

      The Pew Forum is very clear that people who profess Atheist + Agnostic represents 5.5% of Americans. How are they being misleading?

      October 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      bob: theists have a voice, should atheists not?

      October 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Bob

      Sure, we're a representative republic and as such, "market driven" if you will. Everyone has a voice to whatever degree they have masses and money in their favor. I just think it's a little weird that CNN seems to have an interest in advertising for the atheist voice specifically and attempting to help them boost their marketshare. I used to kind of scoff at the conservastive accusation of the existence of the so called "liberal media" with an agenda, but as objectively as I am able to see it, it does appear that CNN gives a decidedly stronger boost to atheist and gay issues than any contrary perspectives.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Bob you are conflating "atheist" with "liberal". Being atheist has nothing to do with a political position.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      May be this is a forgotten term "Diests" meaning believes in a higher power but unwilling to assign a specific religion as the "one" way. 6 of the signers of the declaration of independence were Diests. That is over 10% ....just think about that. Now your comments equating "unafiliatted" with "Atheists" is not only wrong but just plain uninformed. People are sick of religion they havent given up believing but the trappings of genesis and the old testament are hard for someone with a middle school understanding of science to put their hands around. "blind faith" is for sheep, belief in something more powerful than ourselves while respecting science is not only possible but highly actually intuitive for a spiritual side. Atheists do deserve a voice and they are a growing sector in our soceity but more importantly this article is about a far larger portion of our society which deserves its voice heard as well.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Bob

      Even this article states that atheism is traditionally embraced more in liberal politics than conservative. My argument is that CNN giving a representationally inflated platform to atheist politics is part of it's borader desire to promote liberal politics in general, while being able to discalim and protect the illusion of greater objectivity by pointing to the fact that it's part of blogs and op-ed pieces. Of course, who determines which blogs and op-ed pieces get printed?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • sam

      C'mon, Bob. Your argument is disingenius at best. I'm sorry not all the opinion pieces make you happy. Is that better?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Not Deceived

      Atheists always talk, but, as usual, have nothing concrete to say.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      @Bob,

      That is true. Now you have to ask yourself the question, Why? Probably because most intellectuals have freed their mind and gotten rid of all of the garbage of dogma that you espouse. Liberals give up in believing in magic beings, that being a ho mose xual is evil, and that Romney is telling the truth.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Bob

      You think I'm lying about my opinion that is based on personal and anecdotal observation? I just think that, compared to the numbers of the demographics involved, CNN gives an inordinate amount of time to atheist and other typically liberal leaning voices. I guess you could call it their form of affirmative action, if you're in favor of that sort of thing.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Bob

      @HoneyBadger, firstly, most people, including most intellectuals, are theists. Secondly, if youd spent as much time around intellectuals as I have, you wouldn't be so excited to have any of them on your team. It's kind of like Woody Allen said, "Intellectuals are proof that you can be absolutely brilliant, yet have no idea what's going on".

      October 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Bob,

      The reason atheists generally embrace liberals is because liberals don't accuse them of being satan worshippers and claim this is a christian country and that only christians should be allowed in positions of power in govt. The conservatives kowtow to the christian fundamentalists, the conservatives have for the most part expressly conveyed that there is no room in their tent for secular voters.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bob

      You display a remarkable grasp of the obvious, but I don't think anyone asked such a question.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Veritas

      ND. Can you provide examples?

      October 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • ;p;

      "most people, including most intellectuals, are theists."

      Try not to be too general. Also, you wanting it does not necessarily make it true

      Life's hard that way

      October 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bob

      I'm just stating what seems to be an obvious fact, which is that even if the numbers are growing at the moment, I don't think that atheism is anywhere near a majority in any demographic, including among "intellectuals", however one may define them. It doesn't really matter to me to have more religious people, we have too many half assed ones as it is. I'd rather see them go stand with the rest of the people who want to die forever or to go all the way with their faith rather than sitting on the fence.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Not Deceived

      People who claim themselves intellectuals do so because they can't/don't/won't do any thing. Therefore, they need a reason to exist. Useless at it's best.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • bpuharic

      There are as many atheists are there are Jews. You saying Jews shouldn't have a voice because they're only a few percent?

      October 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Bob

      As far as government goes, representation is designed and controlled by the voting system, electoral college, lobby culture, etc. I'm saying that on a large scale, industry leading news website, to have greater representation for minority political groups and ideals than for majority give the appearance of bias and a specific political agenda.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bob,

      Does CNN lean left? Yes, I would say so, but in terms of trying to amplify a minority atheist agenda? No.

      Don't confuse responses here (which I am proud to say include many atheist voices) with the editorial choices made by the Belief Blog staff. They know that wedge issues will generate lots of visitors and they happily trot out articles that are deliberately provocative – on both sides of the divide. No harm nor foul there.

      But back to neutrality. Nature abhors a vacuum and Fox News, by being so decidedly right wing in their presentation of current events pulls news agencies left to fill the void. By itself MSNBC (which I personally find unwatchable by the way) doesn't fill this void and the epithet of 'lamestream liberal media' probably does reflect the more centrist news organizations trending slightly left to counterbalance Fox.

      October 17, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """I just think it's a little weird that CNN seems to have an interest in advertising for the atheist voice specifically"""

      I don't think it started that way, Bob. The religious blog became a focal point for secularists. CNN took notice and began producing articles with us in mind, knowing that they'll get a lot more eyeballs to their webpages with more controversial subjects.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  9. Let's All Bow to the Saudi King...

    ... just like our president does. Bow, Barry. Bow at the waist. Don't look up.

    Meanwhile, the fvcking liberals are sticking to their game plan. Lie, overstate, understate, misrepresent, damn the facts – warp bullshít speed ahead, and by all means, make sure that there's a liberal MSM moderator in charge of all the debates. (and in Candy Crowley's case, make sure she has a copy of all the Democratic talking points complete with annotations showing when to interrupt and support their candidate, cut off Republican responses before they gain traction, and ensure that the Republican gets at least 4 minutes less time than their candidate.)

    Hey, Candy – from me to you – get stuffed. Of course that goes for the collective liberal MSM, networks, MSNBC, Reuters, CNN, etc. I guess it's come to the point where we need moderators to moderate the moderators... Or how about someone from Fox 'co-moderates' future debates? Or wouldn't that be fair... to the liberals?

    I have come to despise liberals. These moderation of these debates is just the icing on the cake. Interestingly, years ago I didn't give a shít about liberals, Saudi-funded Ivy League universities, Chicago gutter politics, immigration, Muslims, or even atheists. Even longer ago when I was a kid I was a member of the SDS – Students for a Democratic Society, protesting against our involvement in Vietnam. The 'parent' organization was the SMC – Student Mobilization Corps. Of course I later learned that it had another name – the Strike Mobilization Committee. My generation might remember their destructive activities on college campuses.... and their founders. Bernadine Dohern and Bill Ayers, aka, the Weather Underground.

    I proclaimed proudly to my WW2 veteran dad: "Hey, I joined the SDS today, and we're protesting against the Vietnam war!!

    My dad's response: "What are you, fvcking communist?"

    Needless to say, I eventually grew up. Children all start out as liberals and eventually grow up to become conservatives.

    October 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      So "Barry" bows. "W" used to hold hands with him, like gay lovers or gradeschoolers – take your pick.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      partisan fvcknuts (from both sides) are harming this country

      October 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Yawn

      So you went from one bad-choice nut-ball extreme to the other. That certainly qualifies you for today's Who's The Biggest Whacko Poster" contest, and you certainly have a good chance. Rainer is here though, and he might bump tou to second-rate whacko.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • sam

      Congrats, you swung from being a complete idiot in one direction to being a complete idiot in the other. The problem here has always been you, not the world around you.

      October 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Not Deceived

      Yawn, you're in the running.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      What Sam Stone said.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Sanji

      I asked my mom about the 1960's when she was a young 2nd generation Indian wife and mother. She laughed and said that the viet namese protesters of the late 1960's were like the occupy protesters of this generation, except they had a cause and actually did something. The occupy protesters of today just sleep in their tents, blow weed and fart.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """just like our president does. Bow, Barry. Bow at the waist."""

      Stop this partisan nonsense and learn a little about world diplomacy.

      Have you forgotten Bush Jr holding hands with the Saudi king?

      October 18, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  10. Honey Badger Dont Care

    Grading Romney is simple.

    Truth-fullness – F- –

    October 17, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • OgLikeRock

      Og ask rock; "why people want leaders to be mindlessly super st itious? seem stupid to Og.."

      Rock have no answer....rock smart, not supers ti tious. Og like rock...

      October 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  11. Rainer Braendlein

    America needs the divine wisdom of the genuine American Benjamin Franklin again.

    Benjamin Franklin, the First American, about the faith (this is from his Autobiography which is even available online):

    I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and tho' some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I esteem'd the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, tho' with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mix'd with other articles,

    which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serv'd principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another.

    This respect to all, with an opinion that the worst had some good effects, induc'd me to avoid all discourse that might tend to lessen the good opinion another might have of his own religion; and as our province increas'd in people, and new places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary contributions, my mite for such purpose, whatever might be the sect, was never refused.

    Tho' I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of its propriety, and of its utility when rightly conducted, and I regularly paid my annual subscription for the support of the only Presbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia. He us'd to visit me sometimes as a friend, and admonish me to attend his administrations, and I was now and then prevail'd on to do so, once for five Sundays successively. Had he been in my opinion a good preacher, perhaps I might have continued, notwithstanding the occasion I had for the Sunday's leisure in my course of study; but his discourses were chiefly either polemic arguments, or explications of the peculiar doctrines of our sect, and were all to me very dry, uninteresting, and unedifying, since not a single moral principle was inculcated or enforc'd, their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens.

    At length he took for his text that verse of the fourth chapter of Philippians, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report, if there be any virtue, or any praise, think on these things." And I imagin'd, in a sermon on such a text, we could not miss of having some morality. But he confin'd himself to five points only, as meant by the apostle, viz.: 1. Keeping holy the Sabbath day. 2. Being diligent in reading the holy Scriptures. 3. Attending duly the publick worship. 4. Partaking of the Sacrament. 5. Paying a due respect to God's ministers. These might be all good things; but, as they were not the kind of good things that I expected from that text, I despaired of ever meeting with them from any other, was disgusted, and attended his preaching no more. I had some years before compos'd a little Liturgy, or form of prayer, for my own private use (viz., in 1728), enti-tled, Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion. I return'd to the use of this, and went no more to the public assemblies. My conduct might be blameable, but I leave it, without attempting further to excuse it; my present purpose being to relate facts, and not to make apologies for them.

    Rainer: Also the Pruzzian King Frederic the Great was very disappointed by the Protestant Church of his time, although he loved the genuine doctrine of Jesus Christ: Love God and your neighbour through the power which God gives you as a free present despite your sinful flesh (body).

    I as a believer agree with Benjamin and Frederic: Our current churches are totally corrupted, they don't teach the genuine gospel of Jesus Christ but harmful heresies. Don't let us forsake Christianity but the churches which have been infiltrated by wolves in sheep's clothing, and let us reform the churches and chase away the criminal leaders.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Please consider that in this context with the word "sect" Franklin did not mean demonic cults like LDS or Watchtower Society which emerged first after Franklin's death but he meant various Protestant denominations, alltogether Puritarians, which had forsaken the Church of England in order to be more faithful Christians in America.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • WASP

      @rain: so you basically agree with atheists, your jesus and george carlin about prayer.
      matthew 6:6 "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

      george carlin said it best" keep thy religion to thy self."

      nice to see we can finally agree on something. lmfao

      October 17, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • mama k

      Well we certainly don't need any more mixing of religion in public service. Around the time that the Constitution was being ratified, there was great feuding between various sects of Christianity going on in a number of states. This is probably why James Madison, our 4th POTUS, and chief architect of the Constitution said this:

      During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

      –(A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the Virginia General Assembly, 1785)

      and then ten years later:

      Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?

      –(A Memorial and Remonstrance, addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of VA, 1795)

      Of course we only need to look to Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd POTUS, to find someone equally, if not more outspoken about the dangers of involving religion in government:

      Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

      –(Letter (as POTUS) to the Virginia Baptists (1808))

      and then of course we have clarifying moments in history such as:

      President John Adams and the U.S. Senate on behalf of the U.S.:

      As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;

      –(from Article 11 of the U.S. treaty ratified with Tripoli in 1797)

      I also like something Senator John F Kennedy said on Sept. 12, 1960, just prior to his winning the Presidential election:

      I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.

      October 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian"

      You spelled "indoctrinated" wrong.

      October 17, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      [1706-1790] American public official, writer, scientist, and printer who played a major part in the American Revolution.

      "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758

      "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches."

      "He (the Rev. Mr. Whitefield) used, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard." Franklin's Autobiography

      "In the affairs of the world, men are saved, not by faith, but by the want of it."

      �Some volumes against Deism fell into my hands. They were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle�s Lecture. It happened that they produced on me an effect precisely the reverse of what was intended by the writers; for the arguments of the Deists, which were cited in order to be refuted, appealed to me much more forcibly than the refutation itself. In a word, I soon became a thorough Deist.�

      "I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies."

      October 17, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @fluffy,

      as pithy as the famous 'lighthouse' quote is, it's not strictly accurate and is considered as missattributed.

      (From wikiquotes)
      After describing a narrow escape from shipwreck [Franklin] added:
      "The bell ringing for church, we went thither immediately, and with hearts full of grat;tude, returned sincere thanks to God for the mercies we had received: were I a Roman Catholic, perhaps I should on this occasion vow to build a chapel to some saint, but as I am not, if I were to vow at all, it should be to build a light-house."

      October 17, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  12. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Bottom line: Romney is Mormon because he was born Mormon. Should we hold this against him? After all, Obama also believes in "pretty/ugly wingie thingies, bodily resurrections and atonement mumbo jumbo.

    Warren Buffett, THE AGNOSTIC, for President !!!!
    Bill Gates, THE AGNOSTIC for VP !!!!

    One should be voting based on rational thinking. Believing in angels, satans, bodily resurrections, atonement, and heavens of all kinds is irrational.

    Apparently, BO and MR have been severely brainwashed in their theologically and historically flawed Christianity and they are too weak to escape its felonious grip.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Not Deceived

      You couldn't pull them away from their bridge game.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  13. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    While speaking at Liberty U. in September and saying: “I will not take God out of my heart, I will not take God out of the public square, and I will not take it out of the platform of my party," how could Mittens get any grade other than an "F" by secularists.

    Mittens' pandering to the evangelicals directly and by proxy through Mark DeMoss, culminating in what appears to be the abuse of Dr. Billy Graham's advancing age and ill-health by reversing the Billy Graham's Evangelistic Association's position of Mormonism as a cult additionally demonstrates that he is a slave to the votes of evangelicals.

    October 17, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Not Deceived

      Where is the atheists' reasoning? Oh, that's right, they just make crap up as they beat others down to step on and over to get ahead.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Not Deceived,

      merely the appllication of logic sir. Try it sometime.

      October 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  14. tallulah13

    I believe that religion is simply another weapon in the ar.senal for people running for office. Until the electorate lets go of their beliefs, political figures must maintain the illusion of their own beliefs. This is why I look at actions, not words.

    I will not vote for Romney because the policies he champions are proven failures. I am not the biggest Obama fan, but I think he has done as well as anyone could, given the situation he was elected into. Therefore, I will vote to keep the current administration in office.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Not Deceived

      Bozo Alert for simplistic tallulah13.

      October 17, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  15. Cynicrat

    A nice article. Thanks, Dan(s) et al...

    But it will be ignored just as they ignored the questionnaires, ignore the law, ignore our American rights and freedoms, and ignore anything that does not agree with their delusional biases.

    The criminal activities that are done using religious values to justify them...will continue as long as we refuse to hold anyone accountable for all the corruption in our government.

    Without addressing the corruption, it doesn't matter what anyone "says" they are going to do, because it won't matter. Their words will, as usual, have no worth whatsoever.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  16. Elizbeth

    No Gary Johnson? Typical biased omission. Hacks.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • ME II

      "...and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson came out at the top of the class, receiving a B." from the article above

      October 17, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  17. ME II

    While this is obviously not the entire area of interest for secular voters, it does highlight the candidates' views on specific items of interest for secular voters.
    In other words, I seriously doubt anyone will use only these issues to determine their vote, nor should they, but these issues may influence their vote.

    Kudos to the Secular Coalition for America.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  18. Rainer Braendlein

    Benjamin Franklin, the First American, about the faith (this is from his Autobiography which is even available online):

    I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and tho' some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible, others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter. These I esteem'd the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, tho' with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mix'd with other articles,

    which, without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serv'd principally to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another.

    This respect to all, with an opinion that the worst had some good effects, induc'd me to avoid all discourse that might tend to lessen the good opinion another might have of his own religion; and as our province increas'd in people, and new places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary contributions, my mite for such purpose, whatever might be the sect, was never refused.

    Tho' I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of its propriety, and of its utility when rightly conducted, and I regularly paid my annual subscription for the support of the only Presbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia. He us'd to visit me sometimes as a friend, and admonish me to attend his administrations, and I was now and then prevail'd on to do so, once for five Sundays successively. Had he been in my opinion a good preacher, perhaps I might have continued, notwithstanding the occasion I had for the Sunday's leisure in my course of study; but his discourses were chiefly either polemic arguments, or explications of the peculiar doctrines of our sect, and were all to me very dry, uninteresting, and unedifying, since not a single moral principle was inculcated or enforc'd, their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens.

    At length he took for his text that verse of the fourth chapter of Philippians, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report, if there be any virtue, or any praise, think on these things." And I imagin'd, in a sermon on such a text, we could not miss of having some morality. But he confin'd himself to five points only, as meant by the apostle, viz.: 1. Keeping holy the Sabbath day. 2. Being diligent in reading the holy Scriptures. 3. Attending duly the publick worship. 4. Partaking of the Sacrament. 5. Paying a due respect to God's ministers. These might be all good things; but, as they were not the kind of good things that I expected from that text, I despaired of ever meeting with them from any other, was disgusted, and attended his preaching no more. I had some years before compos'd a little Liturgy, or form of prayer, for my own private use (viz., in 1728), enti-tled, Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion. I return'd to the use of this, and went no more to the public assemblies. My conduct might be blameable, but I leave it, without attempting further to excuse it; my present purpose being to relate facts, and not to make apologies for them.

    Rainer: Also the Pruzzian King Frederic the Great was very disappointed by the Protestant Church of his time, although he loved the genuine doctrine of Jesus Christ: Love God and your neighbour through the power which God gives you as a free present despite your sinful flesh (body).

    I as a believer agree with Benjamin and Frederic: Our current churches are totally corrupted, they don't teach the genuine gospel of Jesus Christ but harmful heresies. Don't let us forsake Christianity but the churches which have been infiltrated by wolves in sheep's clothing, and let us reform the churches and chase away the criminal leaders.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Reality

      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      October 17, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  19. Rynomite

    They forget one very important thing.

    The party you vote for is often influenced by your wealth/income if your income/wealth is at an extreme end of the wealth spectrum.

    Being Rich trumps Religious Affiliation.
    Being Poor trumps Religious Affiliation.

    There are plenty of wealthy, educated atheists who vote Republican.
    There are plenty of dirt poor, uneducated fundamentalists who vote Democrat.

    October 17, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  20. Jim Whitmore

    Who cares?

    October 17, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • IslandAtheist

      me

      October 17, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • ME II

      Me too (no pun intended)

      October 17, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Zoop

      Me three (keeping it going)

      I threw somethign at m TV last night when Romney started talking about god last night. Childhood stories have no place in government.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Abdullo

      @Zoop, election is all about getting votes, be it su~ckers, dum~basses, dimwits, or religious nutcases, so what the hell!! just tell them what they like to hear "Childhood stories" or I met this guy here and I met that guy there, these people are poor dumb snakes like to dance on tunes of "Political" snake charmers.

      October 17, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Cynicrat

      I sort of care. But I tend to be cynical about these things you know...

      October 17, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • fintastic

      Me also. Keep religion out of government. Didn't belong then, doesn't belong now.

      October 17, 2012 at 11:06 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.