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2008 potential presidential candidates:

U.S. Constitution and religion.
Candidates' popularity.
Science v. religion...

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Candidate's religion and the U.S. Constitution:

Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution states:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

However, the U.S. allows individuals to freely discriminate on the basis of religion when they decide for whom to vote. There is widespread hatred and mistrust among American voters of candidates of minority religious affiliations:

  • Mistrust of Atheists is so great that non non-theists have essentially no chance of being elected to any office if their faith becomes generally known. There are probably many Atheist politicians, but almost all have remained quite silent on their religious affiliation.
  • In the past, there was a major reluctance by many voters to vote for a Roman Catholic candidate until J.F. Kennedy delivered a speech before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association during the 1960 presidential campaign. He said:

"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute ... where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from ... [an] ecclesiastical source."

Kennedy won over Nixon by 113,000 votes (0.1%) in spite of anti-Catholic hatred and bigotry.

  • A major mistrust of Mormon candidates has surfaced recently. It is particularly strong among some evangelical Protestants. It was triggered by Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Hugh Hewitt, in an address to the Evangelical Theological Society in late 2006. identified three religiously-based objections by some evangelicals to Mitt Romney's candidacy. He suggested:
    1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would control any Mormon elected as president.
    2. A Mormon president would energize Mormons missionaries globally.
    3. The Mormon faith is irrational. 1

    We suspect that the same concerns could be expressed by any commentator about a candidate who belongs to another faith group. It is important to realize that any religion appears to be irrational and positively weird to many followers of another religion.

Frustration among Republican voters largely resolved:

The Pew Research Center published a fascinating report on 2007-OCT-31. They note that the general public is mainly concerned about the war, economy health care and education. Concern about same-sex marriage, abortion access and terrorist attack appears to be dwindling. All of these factors may have a negative effect on Republican candidates' results in the election.

They found that among Republican voters and those leaning towards the Republicans:

  • 46% of  feel that the current slate of Republican candidates are only fair or poor.
  • 44% would consider bolting from the Republican party and voting for a conservative third party candidate. Among white evangelicals, this number is 55%
  • 50% say that their presidential vote is more against another candidate rather than for their candidate.

Throughout much of 2007, evangelical Christian voters were searching for a candidate that they could support with enthusiasm. Some were attracted to Rudy Giuliani, because he was perceived as being the strongest candidate -- the one most likely to win the election for president. But many could not handle what they perceived as his moral failings and his formerly liberal views on various topics.

By late 2007-DEC, many evangelicals had settled on Mike Huckabee. He had a surge in the polls, which he attributed to supernatural causes. He had emphasized during his campaign his religious background as an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, his opposition to abortion access, his opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians, and his opposition to gun control. Well known is his support for:

  • The 1998 Southern Baptist Convention statement that "A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ." He was one of 131 leading evangelicals to sign a full-page ad in USA Today in support of the statement.  12
  • The Convention's year 2000 statements denying women access to ordination, stating that the Bible is "totally true," and that "there is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord."
  • Creation science and his opposition to the theory of evolution.

Entrance polls at the Iowa caucus on 2008-JAN-03 showed that such conservative values had outranked electability in importance. Newsweek reported that:

"Six in 10 of his backers said the most important quality in picking a candidate was someone who shared their values, while a third of his supporters said he says what he believes. Fewer than one in 20 said they thought he had the best chance of winning in November. ... A significant chunk of Huckabee supporters -- eight in 10 -- said they are born again or evangelical Christians, compared to less than half of Romney's backers. Nearly two-thirds of Huckabee voters also said it was very important that their candidate share their religious beliefs, compared to about one in five of Romney's. ... In the end, the race for the gold medal in Iowa boiled down to message vs. money -- and message won. 13

After Super Tuesday on 2008-FEB-05, with the withdrawal of Mitt Romney from the slate of Republican hopefuls, John McCain appears to have a massive lead over:

  • Mike Huckabee who has not been able to expand his support beyond his base among southerners and evangelicals, and
  • Ron Paul who has proven his ability to raise impressive funding, but has not been able to translate this into voter support from voters.

Many in the Republican Party view McCain as a liberal. James Dobson, founder of the fundamentalist group Focus on the Family, and arguably the most powerful religious leader in the U.S.  expressed the views of many fundamentalists and other evangelical Christians, when he wrote:

"Should Sen. McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime. I certainly can't vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama based on their virulently anti-family policy positions. If these are the nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life." (More info.)

The vote in 2008 NOV may actually be decided by the potential voters who simply could not support either party's candidate, and who stayed away from the voting booths.

Science vs. religion aspects:

A nationally televised debate among the ten leading Republican candidates for the presidency was held on 2007-MAY-03. A question from the floor asked if any of them "does not believe in evolution." Three raised their hands: Senator Sam Brownback, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo.

Columnist Matt Henderson was not impressed by their beliefs. He said of the three potential candidates:

"That alone should spell an immediate end to their respective candidacies. ...It indicates that their minds have been so thoroughly poisoned by religious literalism -- truly fundamentalism of the most dangerous kind -- that they have lost touch with reality."

According to American Atheists:

"The debate over evolution and creationism (once confined to fundamentalist and evangelical churches or the occasional University debate club) has, over the last decade, swelled to become a major feature of the culture wars.  Now it is a political topic, and even a litmus test for millions of voters.  Surveys indicate that an astonishing number of Americans no longer put trust in the scientific explanations of how life on Earth evolved, and instead look to a literal interpretation of the Bible. 4

An additional oath of office:

Michael Masley is a street musician in Berkeley, CA. He has adopted a penname of "Artist General." Since 2006, he has been bugging the media to ask political candidates whether they would be willing to "... agree never to accept any personal profits flowing from any military action you authorize or promote?"

Steven T Jones of the San Francisco Bay Guardian commented:

"If the question does get asked, Masley thinks Bush might do his deer-in-headlights impression, or that he'd dodge it or lie in a way that might touch off more media interest in the issue. After all, Vice President Dick Cheney has profited handsomely from actions he took as Poppy Bush's secretary of defense, most notably deciding to outsource many military functions and then becoming CEO of Halliburton, which then got the no-bid contracts to do that work."

"Who knows, maybe mainstream journalists might even begin questioning why a war cabinet of Texas oilmen lied their way into occupying some of the most oil-rich regions of the world. Or maybe that's asking too much." 9

Social and religious conservatives consider a third party option:

Dr. James Dobson of the fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family Action discussed the results of a meeting in Salt Lake City on 2007-SEP-30. It was attended by over 50 "pro-family" leaders. Pro-family is a term frequently used by religious and social conservatives to refer to opposition to same-sex marriage; equal rights for gays, lesbians, and transsexuals; abortion access; physician assisted suicide, stem cell research, comprehensive sex education in schools, etc.

By a nearly unanimous vote, the attendees decided that if neither the Republican nor the Democratic party nominates a presidential candidate who "pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate." There was no consensus reached on whether to create a third party in that event. Dobson writes: "Winning the presidential election is vitally important, but not at the expense of what we hold most dear." 8

Our candidate for meaningless polls:

A Canadian Press/Harris Decima survey asked Canadians whether they would support the Democratic or Republican party if they were able to vote for president of the U.S. They favored Democrats by a margin of 49% to 12%. Even Canadians who describe themselves as conservative favored the Democrats by a margin of 47 to 23%. 1,000 subjects were included. The margin of error is ~+mn~ 3.1 percentage points. 14

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. JohnS, "The Three Evangelical Objections," Article VI Blog, 2006-DEC-04, at:
  2. Liz Sidoti, "Romney Tops Straw Poll of GOP Activists," ABC News, 2007-MAR-04, at:
  3. "Washington Post - ABC News Poll, The Washington Post, 2007-APR-16, at:
  4. "GOP debate reveals widespread ignorance of science, startling role of how religion is affecting politics, culture," AANews newsletter, 2007-MAY-06.
  5. "Pro-life Candidate Thompson now leads Republican nomination," LifeSiteNews, 2007-JUN-20.
  6. Liz Sidoti, "AP Poll: GOP Pick Is 'None of the Above'," Associated Press, 2007-JUL-17, at:
  7. "Hart / Newhouse poll," 2007-SEP, at: This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 
  8. James Dobson, "The Values Test," CitizenLink. 2007-OCT-04, at:
  9. Dave Terpeny, "Artist General Warning: Recusal Question Bad For Bush," 2006-JUL-01, KyndMusic, at:
  10. Anne E. Kornblut and Jon Cohen, "Clinton slips in Iowa poll," Washington Post, 2007-NOV-19. at:
  11. "A Year Ahead, Republicans Face Tough Political Terrain," Pew Research Center, 2007-OCT-31, at: Full report at:
  12. Tom Strode, "Evangelicals' USA Today ad affirms SBC for family stance," Baptist Press, 1998-AUG-27, at:
  13. Liz Sidoti, "Analysis: Evangelicals choose one of own," Associated Press, 2008-JAN-04, at:
  14. "Canadians like any Democrat: Poll," The Canadian Press, 2008-JAN-07, at:

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Copyright 2006 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-JUL
Latest update: 2008-JUL-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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