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News United States President's Relegion

  1. Mar 19, 2008 #1
    Why the Americans (unlike most European countries) are always concerned about the religion of the United States President? And do you think that an atheist or an irreligious person can be the United States President?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2008 #2
    USE SPELL CHECK. It helps for people to take your topics seriously.

    Religion is religion, if you have it you might be interested in whether your commander in chief shares your beliefs. If you don't have it, you might be more concerned about how he combs his hair.

    To answer your second question, you don't have to be "religious" to be President. There is nothing that would legally prevent an athiest from taking office. It just so happens that most Americans are religious therefore they tend to gravitate towards a candidate who is as well. Make sense? Democracy, the consensus (if they vote) tend to get their way.
  4. Mar 19, 2008 #3


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    This is not just a case for Americans or Europeans or whatever (except may the communists). Perhaps some believe that you cannot have high morals if you have no religion, because there is nothing (like a god) that can "guide you".

    As to whether an atheist can be the US president: I don't think so,.. not in my lifetime anyway.
  5. Mar 19, 2008 #4
    Most Americans believe in the fallacy, that if someone labels themselves as a member of the same belief system as you, then they must have the same beliefs as you. So naturally, politicians try to exploit this.
  6. Mar 19, 2008 #5


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    This is how Bush was elected, twice.

    Another thing is that American politics are like a religion. Democrats and republicans are extreme opposites, and they will never admit the other had a good idea, nor will they change positions on something unless doing so will cost them an election. The parties take unchangeable stances on things, much like a religion would. The president acts like the pope in that he's never around to be part of the political process; he just sits in his castle and signs things. The president never goes to TV or radio stations for interviews, he doesn't openly debate anyone, he's never out in the open for security reasons, and he's highly regarded with terms like "commander in chief". The system runs like a religion, so it almost makes sense that religion would be brought into it.

    In British style politics, the leader is part of the debating process. If someone like Blair says something stupid, people will openly call him out in parliament and make him look like an idiot. He is not held to a higher standard than anyone else. He can be called out, laughed at, yelled at, and debated with. Prime ministers are often interviewed on things when they walk out of parliament, we see them on TV all the time, and we know exactly what they're thinking because they tell us what they're thinking. When it comes to US presidents, you never really know what they're thinking because they're never asked. Presidents only speak when they have something to announce, and even then, announcements are usually done by the press secretary. You may not speak to pope Bush the second, please direct your questions to Dana Perino.

    It's also worth noting that Americans treat the constitution as if it's biblical text. Everyone rigidly sticks to the constitution and will try to avoid any deviation, because the constitution is the word of god. Even the people trying to deviate from the constitution will make up excuses for why their idea does not contradict the constitution. Our proposed gun ban is not against the second amendment because the comma is to catch your breath and that amendment is actually referring to the militia that has gun rights (wtf??). Other countries simply don't do that. If people want to ban guns, they say guns are dangerous and they won't try to make up some excuse for why it's not a rights violation. The people opposing them don't try to talk about some kind of right or some document with god-like power, they just reply "you're an idiot, how am I supposed to shoot wolves on my land?"

    Religion will never leave US politics because the entire country is evangelical about everything. Christians hate the atheists, atheists hate the Christians, republican hate democrats, and so on. Other countries don't run like that. Atheists and Christians, or liberals and conservatives in countries like Canada don't really fight against each other; they just have a difference of opinion and leave it at that. The strong polarization between things like liberal against conservative are somewhat unique to the US; most countries are not that heavily divided on anything.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2008
  7. Mar 19, 2008 #6


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    I like to think that Brits have a deep cynicism about politicians whereas Americans are rather more hopeful!
    What's slightly more scary is that a US politician will pretend to be religious to encourage voters from the same religion - while a British politician will cover up their religious beliefs so people don't think they are crazy.
    I would rather have a cynical opportunist in charge than somebody (like Blair) who thinks they actually are on a mission from God!
  8. Mar 19, 2008 #7


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    A classic case of that happened in Canada a few years ago. A guy running for prime minister, named Stockwell Day, was discovered to be a pretty hard core religious guy. After that, he fell off the earth. I haven't heard anything about him since that time.
  9. Mar 20, 2008 #8


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    Although unlike the monarch there is no actual constitutional ban on a non-Anglican becoming prime minister of Britain in reality there is a 'de facto' ban. One of the prime ministers duties is to appoint Church of England bishops so it is hard to see how a catholic or atheist could fulfil that role.

    That's why T Blair waited until he had left office before converting to catholicism.
  10. Mar 20, 2008 #9
    And this past month the church authorities voted to end that process.
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