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mr blur

(7,753 posts)
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 06:18 AM Feb 2012

As a foreigner, I find it astonishing that religion plays such a large part

in the US electoral process.

Here in the UK no politician would campaign on a religious platform. I can't think of any politician here who has even mentioned religion as a way of getting votes. As the slimy Tony Blair said, if you go on about religion in the UK, people will "think you're a nutter". Yet in the US it seems to be expected that you must have "faith" and should tell us all about it, to the extent of formulating policy based on it.

Of course we have religious loonies/extremists here too, but none of them ever runs for Prime Minister and wouldn't get very far if they did.

I have no idea (nor interest in) what faiths our leading politicians might follow, apart from the Deputy Prime Minister who, in answer to a direct question, described himself as "not a man of faith" (although he then spoiled the moment by adding, "...but my wife is".)

Of course The Fool Cameron recently described Britain as "a Christian country" but that was as much of a sop to his Daily Mail fanbase as anything else.

Do people of faith in the US feel it important to hear about such things from those who want to be President?

21 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
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As a foreigner, I find it astonishing that religion plays such a large part (Original Post) mr blur Feb 2012 OP
Over half of the population squicked Feb 2012 #1
Yep, talk about wedge issues and ignore the important stuff. jakeXT Feb 2012 #2
Except for many of us, those "wedge issues" involve our bodily integrity, and a sickening iris27 Feb 2012 #21
Apparently they do. MrModerate Feb 2012 #3
As an American, I find it astonishing as well. CanonRay Feb 2012 #4
+1 kickysnana Feb 2012 #5
You've had to be some kind of Christian in the US for a long time, however Silent3 Feb 2012 #7
That's right. Lydia Leftcoast Feb 2012 #14
Exploiting is exactly the right word, imo cbayer Feb 2012 #15
So, would that make you a "nutter" over here? nt humblebum Feb 2012 #6
Santorum's level of religious rhetoric... Silent3 Feb 2012 #8
Most of them simply misunderstand the term GOD dickthegrouch Feb 2012 #9
IDS is Christian Prophet 451 Feb 2012 #10
+1 LeftishBrit Feb 2012 #16
I didn't know that Prophet 451 Feb 2012 #20
I wrote a song about IDS's views at around that time: LeftishBrit Feb 2012 #18
Pretty good n/t Prophet 451 Feb 2012 #19
Just wait 'til the election gets even closer Rob H. Feb 2012 #11
We have a lot of ignorant people in this country snooper2 Feb 2012 #12
Good point. GB and Europe have far more atheists than US Brettongarcia Feb 2012 #13
'no politician would campaign on a religious platform' LeftishBrit Feb 2012 #17

squicked

(18 posts)
1. Over half of the population
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 06:45 AM
Feb 2012

identify themselves as Christians but it takes third place in their life behind family and earnings. Media plays a big role in defining what is important in our elections. So wedge issues are pitted against christian values and that is defined as news. So it keeps the "little" people fighting against each other while much needed tax paid programs like social security and medicare are cut and subsidies/bailouts are given to to the wealthy. It's the old bait and switch routine and it works well in this country.

iris27

(1,951 posts)
21. Except for many of us, those "wedge issues" involve our bodily integrity, and a sickening
Fri Feb 24, 2012, 04:27 PM
Feb 2012

number of state laws were passed against us in 2011. So they, too, are important stuff. (As is gay rights, but at least most of the legislative momentum there is in a positive direction!)

 

MrModerate

(9,753 posts)
3. Apparently they do.
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 08:57 AM
Feb 2012

I've lived outside the States for many years, and even from over here you can't ignore the waves of religiousity that roll off any national candidate in the US.

It's appalling, but someone who acknowledged they were "not a man of faith" would mark the day as the end of his political career.

CanonRay

(13,955 posts)
4. As an American, I find it astonishing as well.
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 09:13 AM
Feb 2012

I'm actually continually surprised and shocked by it. When I was a kid, no one gave a crap which religion you were in until the Kennedy election, and he put that to bed. Nixon's being a Quaker was like: very intersting, who cares. Now it's all these idiots talk about, and it is probably the least relevant thing about them as applies to governing...or at least it should be.

Silent3

(14,896 posts)
7. You've had to be some kind of Christian in the US for a long time, however
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 10:22 AM
Feb 2012

...to have much of a hope of winning high elected office. While the culture wars have heated up in the past 30 years since Reagan, there hasn't ever been a time where non-Christians would fare well here, with perhaps the exception of the occasional Jew here and there, and some of the deists of the American Revolution.

Don't forget that it was in the 1950's that "under God" was crammed into the Pledge of Allegiance. "In God We Trust" as been on coins since 1864, it became the official motto of the US in 1956, and was slapped on paper currency in 1957.

Lydia Leftcoast

(48,217 posts)
14. That's right.
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 04:18 PM
Feb 2012

It didn't used to be that way.

It started in the 80s when the Republicans began exploiting social issues to win the previously politically uninvolved fundamentalists to their side.

Silent3

(14,896 posts)
8. Santorum's level of religious rhetoric...
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 10:30 AM
Feb 2012

...will not play at all well in a general election, even if, sadly enough, it's apparently tasty motivational red meat for the Republican base.

Then again, I don't think people in the US are as disgusted as they should be by Santorum. If the economy suddenly took another dive or some other big crisis hit, no matter how little Obama has to do with it, our low-information emotionally-driven voters are quite capable of putting a "nutter" like Santorum into the White House.

dickthegrouch

(3,128 posts)
9. Most of them simply misunderstand the term GOD
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 10:51 AM
Feb 2012

As explained to me by an Indian colleague, GOD is actually an acronym for Gold, Oil and Drugs.
Makes far more sense that so many profess to have faith in those.

Damned churches and religions just obfuscate it for their own purposes.

Prophet 451

(9,796 posts)
10. IDS is Christian
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 11:04 AM
Feb 2012

He once said it was a "sin" to be unemployed, which tells you everything you need to know about his brand of Christianity.

LeftishBrit

(41,168 posts)
16. +1
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 05:45 PM
Feb 2012

Last edited Thu Feb 23, 2012, 07:54 PM - Edit history (1)

He also co-authored an article on 'Compassionate conservativism' with Rick Santorum in 2005.

LeftishBrit

(41,168 posts)
18. I wrote a song about IDS's views at around that time:
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 06:06 PM
Feb 2012

IAIN DUNCAN-SMITH'S SONG OF COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATIVISM

Oh, poverty’s a dreadful thing,
A sorrow and a shame.
It causes so much misery.
Someone must be to blame!
And who’s to blame is very clear.
Of one thing we are sure:
There never could be poverty,
If ‘twas not for the poor!

Some people choose to earn a lot,
And live in mansions fine.
They always eat the best of food
And drink the best of wine.
We’re glad they made this lifestyle choice.
It should be made by more.
Too many cause their own downfall,
By choosing to be poor!

Just think of Labour’s cruelty,
A model to avoid!
They gave too many benefits
To sick or unemployed.
That only reinforced their sin,
And made them do it more.
You just encourage poverty
When you reward the poor!

Oh, poverty’s a dreadful thing,
A scourge throughout the land.
It’s just like an addictive drug.
As such, it should be banned.
It’s really for poor people’s good,
That we’ve big cuts in store.
A big deterrent’s what they need
To make them not be poor!





Rob H.

(5,329 posts)
11. Just wait 'til the election gets even closer
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 11:09 AM
Feb 2012

You'll get to see all kinds of instances of candidates shifting into turbo-pander mode to try to prove they're more pious than their opponents.

Brettongarcia

(2,262 posts)
13. Good point. GB and Europe have far more atheists than US
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 02:02 PM
Feb 2012

It is only in the last few years, from about 1990, that Americans have even allowed atheists to speak prominently, without death threats.

Though that after all, is significant progress.

Not long ago by the way, the US was often rated 98% or 99% Christian; only recently has that number gone down to say, 89%. With the major remainer being taken now by agnostics, "no religion" folks, and a few atheists.

My impression is that in GB or England, the proportion is now closer to 50/50?

LeftishBrit

(41,168 posts)
17. 'no politician would campaign on a religious platform'
Thu Feb 23, 2012, 06:03 PM
Feb 2012

It's rare in the UK - except for the Paisleyites of Northern Ireland. However, NO one, wherever they live, should be complacent about these issues.

In the last election, the Tories won in my constituency by 176 votes, at least in part because of a smear campaign by the Rev Lynda Rose, the local representative of the anti-abortion 'Life' organization, who attacked him as 'Dr Death' for his 'support' for euthanasia and abortion; and similar attacks in the wider media, especially by Cristina Odone. There are other reasons - neither he nor the local party campaigned very assiduously; and he was a left-leaning LibDem, a species that has essentially gone the way of the dinosaurs. Nevertheless these vile smear campaigns, by which we were blindsided (you don't expect such things here!) certainly contributed very significantly; and certainly resulted in triumphant gloating, and support for repeating such actions elsewhere, by our very own Christian-Righties:

Immediately:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/georgepitcher/100038685/the-best-result-of-the-election-lets-rejoice-that-lib-dem-evan-harris-has-lost-his-seat/

And some time later, by Ann Widdecombe and Cristina Odone:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/cristinaodone/100103496/abortion-vote-the-fate-of-dr-evan-harris-should-be-a-warning-to-mps-who-ignore-their-christian-voters/

It was enough to make one want to dig a tunnel to Australia... Except that their conservative leader is Tony Abbott, the 'Mad Monk' and a convinced Christian-Rightie type; and just after our election, he fortunately failed to become Prime Minister - but by ONE SINGLE parliamentary seat! And that is, like Britain, a pretty secular country.

Of course, we are nothing like America with regard to the influence of the uglier sort of religion. Not only are we much more secular, but the proportion of Christian Left to Christian Right is much higher here than it seems to be in America. But no one should ever be as complacent as I once was.



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