Atheist Politicians

Jeff the Baptist wrote a post responding to a post of Hube’s about a survey indicating that a majority of Americans would not vote for an avowed atheist for President, the only group that gained a majority rejecting them. Like Jeff, I had to think about that one for a while. I was definitely uncomfortable with the idea but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. His post today, and a topic that was brought in our RCIA class tonight (the process those converting to Catholicism go through), crystallized it for me.

First, the discomfort comes from the simple fact that an atheist doesn’t believe in God. If someone doesn’t believe in God, what do they believe in? If there’s no overarching moral law, then he’s running for office just for power. If there is no external force in our lives and we’re just a random collection of cells that happened to become a human person, rather than a dog, tree or a rock, who cares about other people? Why should I look out for my fellow man?

The answer can be found in the notion of natural law. Catholic teaching (and at least some Protestants as well, I believe) is that God has written on our hearts a natural law that gives us an innate sense of right and wrong, which can manifest itself in our conscience. (I’m not a natural law theologian by any means, so I may get some details wrong.) It’s this natural law that leads those who deny God to still lead good lives that show they care about their fellow man. They may not believe in God, but due to following their, they are following the natural law He has written on their hearts. (Or as Jeff puts it, they “get it.”)

So, I could vote for an avowed atheist who was following, even unknowingly, the precepts of natural law, which should be the basis of our civil laws in any event. A topic for another time is whether or not civil laws should extend beyond natural law.

Quote-a-palooza

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” —George Washington

“Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy and chivalry.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory. Wisdom comes of such a recognition.” —Miguel de Cervantes

“Learn all you can, but learn to do something, or your learning will be useless and your vision will depart.” —Booker T. Washington

“You can observe a lot just by watching.” —Yogi Berra

“Slowly bleeding our forces by defunding what our commanders think they need to win (the House approach) or rewording the authorization of the use of force so that lawyers decide what operations are to be launched (the Senate approach) is no way to fight a war. It is no way to end a war. It is a way to complicate the war and make it inherently unwinnable—and to shirk the political responsibility for doing so.” —Charles Krauthammer

“So far, candidates have told us very little about where they think the world is headed and what we should do about it. And they’ve shown us little to indicate that they’ve thought seriously about governance and long-term problems like Social Security and Medicare.” —George Will

“A primary job of the federal government is to unify Americans. Besides being our native tongue, English is the language of commerce worldwide. Every student should be able to speak it fluently. That’s the only way to ensure that no child gets left behind.” —Ed Feulner

Jay Leno: The state of Virginia’s General Assembly has passed a resolution apologizing for slavery. Not a moment too soon. It’s good to nip these things in the bud before any hard feelings develop. … Speaking of that, according to a new report by genealogists, Al Sharpton’s ancestors were slaves once owned by Strom Thurmond’s relatives. And now Al Sharpton wants a DNA test to see if they are related. And somehow you know this is going to end up that Strom is the father of Anna Nicole’s baby. You know that’s going to happen.

Quote-a-palooza

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” —George Washington

“Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy and chivalry.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory. Wisdom comes of such a recognition.” —Miguel de Cervantes

“Learn all you can, but learn to do something, or your learning will be useless and your vision will depart.” —Booker T. Washington

“You can observe a lot just by watching.” —Yogi Berra

“Slowly bleeding our forces by defunding what our commanders think they need to win (the House approach) or rewording the authorization of the use of force so that lawyers decide what operations are to be launched (the Senate approach) is no way to fight a war. It is no way to end a war. It is a way to complicate the war and make it inherently unwinnable—and to shirk the political responsibility for doing so.” —Charles Krauthammer

“So far, candidates have told us very little about where they think the world is headed and what we should do about it. And they’ve shown us little to indicate that they’ve thought seriously about governance and long-term problems like Social Security and Medicare.” —George Will

“A primary job of the federal government is to unify Americans. Besides being our native tongue, English is the language of commerce worldwide. Every student should be able to speak it fluently. That’s the only way to ensure that no child gets left behind.” —Ed Feulner

Jay Leno: The state of Virginia’s General Assembly has passed a resolution apologizing for slavery. Not a moment too soon. It’s good to nip these things in the bud before any hard feelings develop. … Speaking of that, according to a new report by genealogists, Al Sharpton’s ancestors were slaves once owned by Strom Thurmond’s relatives. And now Al Sharpton wants a DNA test to see if they are related. And somehow you know this is going to end up that Strom is the father of Anna Nicole’s baby. You know that’s going to happen.

Quote-a-palooza

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” —George Washington

“Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy and chivalry.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory. Wisdom comes of such a recognition.” —Miguel de Cervantes

“Learn all you can, but learn to do something, or your learning will be useless and your vision will depart.” —Booker T. Washington

“You can observe a lot just by watching.” —Yogi Berra

“Slowly bleeding our forces by defunding what our commanders think they need to win (the House approach) or rewording the authorization of the use of force so that lawyers decide what operations are to be launched (the Senate approach) is no way to fight a war. It is no way to end a war. It is a way to complicate the war and make it inherently unwinnable—and to shirk the political responsibility for doing so.” —Charles Krauthammer

“So far, candidates have told us very little about where they think the world is headed and what we should do about it. And they’ve shown us little to indicate that they’ve thought seriously about governance and long-term problems like Social Security and Medicare.” —George Will

“A primary job of the federal government is to unify Americans. Besides being our native tongue, English is the language of commerce worldwide. Every student should be able to speak it fluently. That’s the only way to ensure that no child gets left behind.” —Ed Feulner

Jay Leno: The state of Virginia’s General Assembly has passed a resolution apologizing for slavery. Not a moment too soon. It’s good to nip these things in the bud before any hard feelings develop. … Speaking of that, according to a new report by genealogists, Al Sharpton’s ancestors were slaves once owned by Strom Thurmond’s relatives. And now Al Sharpton wants a DNA test to see if they are related. And somehow you know this is going to end up that Strom is the father of Anna Nicole’s baby. You know that’s going to happen.

Politicians and Catholics and Catholic Politicians: The Mess

Although, practically speaking, the 2008 presidential campaign began the day after the campaign of 2004 ended, it has lately shifted visibly and audibly into high gear. Make no mistake, that means trouble ahead for the Church.

It’s not only that several politicians who’d like to be president are Catholics who support legalized abortion. This truly is the Church’s most excruciating political problem today, but it’s hardly the only one.

That was painfully clear in the recent flap — mercifully brief — over former senator John Edwards’ refusal to fire two campaign staffers who made blatantly offensive anti-Catholic remarks on their blogs. When the predictable uproar erupted, both quit, apparently by their own choice.

For Catholics, the genuinely problematic aspect of the episode concerned not the two staffers but the candidate. Edwards, a Methodist, may be a decent fellow, but his obtuseness about Catholic feelings in response to severe provocation leaves a bad taste in many mouths.

And to think — the campaign has just begun!

Read the whole article

It’s not a fun time for Catholics in the political world. The most prominent Catholic politicians dissent from the Church on very grave issues. (I’m reminded of one thing I read that argued the surest way to promote Catholic values in the political is to not vote for Catholic politicians,) Given the candidates who are likely to be the nominees in the two major parties, it’ll be tough to choose come November 2008.