Does a candidate’s faith matter?

Patheos is running this campaign where they have a weekly question that several of their writers tackle.  Here’s is this week’s:

Does a candidate’s faith matter?  For instance: Is it wrong or un-American to take a candidate’s faith into account when choosing for whom to vote?  Is it wrong for a Christian (or Muslim, or Jew, or Atheist…) to prefer, between two otherwise equal candidates, a person of her own faith?

Yes, a candidate’s faith matters, but only because reason matters.  As I’ve often said, the salvation of humankind is our intellect and reason.  It’s why we have abundant food, water we can drink without worrying about being sick, cell phones, airplanes, indoor plumbing, pornography at our fingertips, beer, etc.  I want a President who relies on reason to solve our problems.

The moment a President stops thinking about solutions to problems and stops working toward those solutions to instead beseech the ghost of a 2,000 year-old Canaanite Jew for help, he has in that moment made himself a less capable leader.

Sam Harris said it beautifully in Letter to a Christian Nation.

“The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.”

I want a President that trusts exclusively in humanity to fix our problems, since that is the source of every solution we’ve ever enjoyed.

Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.