Secular Coalition for America Gives Cory Booker an ‘A’ and Chris Christie an ‘F’ in Latest Scorecards

The Secular Coalition for America (in conjunction with the Secular Coalition for New Jersey) just released its scorecards for the upcoming gubernatorial and senatorial elections in New Jersey and, in both races, the grades couldn’t be further apart.

In the October 16 special election to Frank Lautenberg‘s senate seat, Democrat Cory Booker is running against Republican Steve Lonegan.

The SCA gave Booker an “A” on issues of church/state separation while Lonegan received an “F”:

Cory Booker (via The Blaze)

Not too surpri—whoa, what’s that “F” in Booker’s column?

It’s based entirely on statements he made in support of taxpayer-funded vouchers that would allow parents to send their children to private and religious schools, something that church/state separation advocates have fought against everywhere. He’s wrong on that issue and the SCA was right to give him a failing grade. (Booker’s composite score was a 2.25/3 which was the bare minimum he needed to earn an overall grade of “A.”)

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Tuesday gives Booker a 53%-41% edge right now.

Meanwhile, for the November 5 Governor’s race, Democrat Barbara A. Buono may be getting crushed in the polls by Republican Chris Christie, but she has him beaten on the scorecard. She earned straight “A”s while Christie failed miserably:

Christie isn’t opposed to civil unions, though he has vetoed legislation allowing for marriage equality.

Christie’s leading in a Kean University poll released yesterday 52%-34%. Should be an easy victory for him, unfortunately.

The SCA’s Edwina Rogers, while notably Republican herself, says her group will “work to educate and unify lawmakers on both sides of the aisle behind our country’s core secular founding principles.”

“The separation of religion and government affects all of us in a positive way — including protecting the religious from having another’s brand of religion imposed on them,” Rogers said. “These secular values are particularly important to remember and protect at the state level, where we’re seeing some of the most egregious legislation in state capitals across the country.

As much as I would love for these scorecards to sway voters, I would assume voters have already made their decision. But for any independent stragglers who care about church/state separation, these results should point you in the right direction.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • aoscott

    Make no mistake, Booker is hardly different than Christie, especially when it comes to “national security.” Both will bend over backwards to allow the government to violate our rights.

  • Brian K

    Edit: deleted the doublepost.

  • Brian K

    This scorecard makes some very dubious claims. Like question 1:

    What role would religion play in the candidate’s decision making in his or her role as Governor of New Jersey? Does the candidate support a mutual separation between religion and government?

    Bruno’s score is listed as an A, with the defense being “Makes no mention of religion on her campaign website and rarely mentions religion in public statements – which demonstrates a strong separation between her private religious views and her role as a public servant.”

    That’s pretty a pretty flimsy justification, like they’re starting with the conclusion she’s adequately secular (democrat) until proven otherwise.

    And question 4:

    Does the candidate support scientifically based regulations including science surrounding reproduction, stem cell research, climate change and other issues?

    Christe gets an F, noting “Christie: Is opposed abortion except in cases of incest, rape, and when the life of the mother is in danger and supports restrictions such as banning late-term abortions…”

    I don’t see how someone’s stance on abortion restrictions is automatically a litmus test for their secularity. Carl Sagan didn’t support 3rd trimester abortions, was he not secular enough?

    I give the scorecard a C-, because it clearly shot it’s eye out.

  • 3lemenope

    The mushy middle has recently distinguished itself in both parties for being as wrong as one can possibly be, as a matter of first impression, on war and international relations. As much as I might disagree with them both on many, many issues, it is nice to have voices on the left like Sanders and on the right like Paul who don’t have stars tattooed on the inside of their eyelids when it comes to military issues and are resistant to the drumbeat of war.

  • Lauren Anderson Youngblood

    Hi Brian,
    Regarding Buono’s answer to question 1: she received an A for making no mention of religion, because the Secular Coalition advocates for a complete separation between religion and government. The fact that she does not mention religion on her website, interviews or in other public statements when others would have, demonstrates her willingness/ability to separate her personal religious beliefs from her role as a lawmaker, which is exactly what we want –her religion shouldn’t play a role in decisions made for our secular government and not discussing it demonstrates that. Furthermore her stances on the other issues help to inform a general sense of her position on church state separation issues, and her policies back this up. If you’ll notice, despite that Christie said he doesn’t allow his personal religious beliefs to affect his decisions as a public lawmaker, his policy positions demonstrate otherwise, which affected his grade for question 1.

    Regarding the inclusion of abortion–while there are some nontheists who are against women’s access to abortions they are a very slim minority, and the vast majority of those who oppose abortion and contraception access do so for religious reasons. Attempting to impose on the public (by virtue of holding public office) one’s religious views on abortion is a violation of our first amendment. –Lauren Anderson Youngblood (Communications Manager, Secular Coalition for America)

  • Brian K

    Thanks for your response. You are likely correct that nontheists who are against women’s access to abortions IN TOTO are a very slim minority, but it seems likely that there is a sizable number who support some form of restriction on late-term or partial-birth abortion. Do you have a source to support that claim?

  • Lauren Anderson Youngblood

    Brian, yes we do have reliable data that indicates that above claim. Unfortunately, the study I’m referring to is an embargoed study that we cannot publicly cite as a reference until it’s officially made public.

  • revyloution

    These grades always get a laugh out of me. The politicians who get ‘A’s and the politicians who get ‘F’s are both equally proud of their attention from the group.

    Christie could probably use it in a campaign ad to get votes. “Hey, vote for me,the Secular Coalition gave me an F.”

  • UWIR

    I hardly think that supporting vouchers warrants an “F”. If a Medicare patient goes to a Catholic hospital, is it a violation of SOCAS to reimburse the doctor? Yes, I understand that there are SOCAS concerns regarding vouchers, but to say that it’s such a clear-cut issue that anyone disagrees deserves an “F” is a bit overboard.


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