Among Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Gary Johnson, Johnson received the best grade from the Secular Coalition of America on the organization's 2012 Presidential Election Scorecard. As both Obama and Romney make sure to demonstrate their affinity for religious mumbo-jumbo, Johnson has kept his religious beliefs largely obscured from public view, which is exactly how it ought to be for presidential candidates. But instead, religious belief is all but a prerequisite for holding elected office, despite Article VI of the Constitution, which states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any office or public Trust under the United States." Yet such tests are administered all the time by a populace that demands its leaders believe the same hokum they do.
Here's how the Secular Coalition of America marked the candidates:
The full report can be found here.
During a Google+ Hangout Q&A last year, Johnson was asked how he would protect minority religious rights. He responded,
"Well just that there should be a separation of church and state and that I think that the … I happen to think that the world kind of looks down on Republicans for their social conservative views which include religion in government. I think that that should not play a role in any of this. And you know when Republicans talk about values .. you know what I bet you and I have the same values."
It is impossible to imagine either Obama or Romney making such a statement, that religion should not play any role in politics whatsoever. In August, Obama and Romney took turns telling Cathedral Age — the magazine of Washington National Cathedral — how important their respective faiths are to them: "Mr. Obama says his Christian faith gives him security and comfort he would not have otherwise: 'That I am loved. That, at the end of the day, God is in control.'" Obama also reaffirmed that his "faith in Jesus is legitimate is real."
For his part, Romney has mostly avoided speaking too much about his religion — Mormonism — which involves the belief that the Garden of Eden was located in present day Missouri, and that god is a physical being about six feet tall who lives somewhere near the planet Kolob. Considering this, Romney appears to have made a wise choice.
On the other hand, Obama's belief (which is also Romney's) that Jesus was sent earthward to be tortured and crucified as part of a cruel child sacrifice orchestrated by the "loving" almighty tyrant in the sky, is just as absurd. But what mainstream Christianity has that Mormonism lacks, is a two-millenia history behind it, which is plenty of time for an air of legitimacy to build up around such fantastic claims, whose origins become murkier as time proceeds.
Thankfully, the American public appears to be easing up on its demand that presidential candidates be people of faith. For the first time, in July a Gallup poll revealed that a majority of Americans (54%) said they would vote for a qualified atheist for president. And in a recent Pew Research poll, one-fifth Americans described themselves as having no religious affiliation. This percentage of "nones" was the highest in the survey's history. While the United States is still the most religious developed country in the world, secularists can take solace in small victories that will likely become bigger over time.
Thank Zeus for that.