Well, in the first place, anyone who thinks state or federal legislators (or even city council or school board members) are going to shelve their religious beliefs while they legislate just isn’t living in the real world. It is simply unreasonable to expect someone to set aside something that has a tremendous influence over the way he/she acts, thinks or speaks. I’m an atheist, but I understand perfectly that, when it comes time to cast a vote for or against a proposed law, every legislator has to look into his/her conscience and say, “Is this really the right thing to do?” And religion has a huge influence over a person’s conscience. It’s usually the way we were raised, it’s ingrained and imprinted and impressed – how can anyone possibly ignore that kind of influence? They can’t, and it’s silly to ask them to.
Having said that, however, I think it would be difficult for a candidate to be elected on a purely religious platform in most areas of the U.S. No doubt, there are pockets of religious fundamentalism where a candidate who vows to bring prayer back into schools and force Constitutional recoginition of Christianity as the official religion of the United States might be elected. That person would be pretty ineffective in the statehouse or Capitol, however.
Because religion is a deeply personal thing, I think most people object to someone from another religious group trying to legislate based on “what the Bible says.” When I was an Episcopalian, I was a devout one, steeped in the faith; but I was appalled at the lengths the local Baptists and Roman Catholics went to to try to overturn abortion rights and even bring prayer back into schools. My religious upbringing and indoctrination convinced me utterly that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was horrified on a daily basis at what those Baptists and Catholics were doing in His name. As a devout Episcopalian, I also worked to eliminate the death penalty in Colorado (still haven’t succeeded) and for a variety of other liberal causes. That’s what we Episcopalians were back then – we were social liberals.
What I think **Guinistasia ** was trying to say was that, if a lawmaker wants his or her actions and decisions to be guided by his or her religion, that’s fine; but not all of us subscribe to the tenets of the Bible, so it’s a really bad idea to try to legislate from the Bible. I would find no more validity in a law based entirely on the Gospel of St. Mark than you would a law based entirely on the Book of Mormon.
One man’s unassailable truth is another man’s mythology; we don’t all believe the same thing, so we can’t ever agree on what the Bible really says. We can’t even really agree on what is and isn’t moral.
The real basis for and measure of legislation, I believe, is what the legislator believes is good for the country and for the future of our civilization. Sometimes that’s just too big a question for any person to satisfactorily answer, and we just have to fall back on what we believe to be the truth. And if our lawmakers always did that, I’d be fine with it. What I detest is lawmakers always voting according to what’s going to bring in the most campaign money and the most votes. Sometimes I wish they’d adopt a piece of legislation that caused real hardship to Americans, but was the right thing to do, just to show that they really do know how to lead. I’m not holding my breath.