Carnal Reason notes a difference in how politicians’ religious beliefs are often regarded, depending on their politics:
Many critics stand ready to mock Palin’s Christianity. Fair enough. Will they also mock Obama’s and Biden’s?
Christianity is a miracle religion. Absent belief in the miraculous, there is nothing left of Christianity worth the name. Here is the story in a nutshell: Christ was both man and God. God took on human flesh and entered into the physical world to perform a mission. The mission was to save the fallen human race, and to do so Christ had to die and then rise from the dead. That is why Easter, not Christmas, is the greatest of Christian holidays. It celebrates the Resurrection, the central dogma of Christianity. This is not my just my opinion, it is orthodox Christian teaching. In Corinthians 15:17 Paul states that “if Christ be not raised, your faith is in vain”.
Obama has gone on record as stating that Christ is his Lord, that he prays to Jesus. I see three possibilities: 1. Obama was lying: he believes no such thing, but finds it politically expedient to claim he does. 2. Obama accepts as fact the Resurrection of Christ. 3. Obama is an idiot.
Obama is no idiot. So does he believe that a corpse dead on Friday came back to life on Sunday? And if so, does he accept as facts the rest of Christ’s miracles? Prior to his death, Christ is said to have resurrected a corpse, made the blind see, walked on water, and turned water into wine. I can’t see why anyone would believe in the Resurrection, and deny the rest. Why strain at gnats? The theory that the earth is only 6000 years old appears to be pre-scientific nonsense. It contradicts known facts about the rates at which radioactive materials decay. By the same token, a corpse coming back to life violates the laws of thermodynamics, and walking on water violates the laws of gravity.
So far as I know Palin is not a Young Earther. But if she were, her belief would be no more at odds with science than is Obama’s stated belief that Christ is Lord. I suspect those who mock Palin’s belief without mocking Obama’s do so because in their hearts they imagine that Obama does not actually believe. He just says what he has to say to attain power. And they’re ok with that. They mock Palin because they imagine she means what she says.
I do not see how belief in the Resurrection or in the Young Earth theory has much practical bearing on fitness to execute the responsibilities of office. I do think it would be gross dishonesty to claim to believe in Christ, if one does not so believe, merely to gain office. The man who would lie about that would lie about anything.
In the comments, Georges points out that a willingness to lie about religious beliefs, if that’s what’s happening, doesn’t prove that a candidate would therefore “lie about anything.” I agree. But CR’s broader argument does highlight an assumption and double standard which seems fairly common and ought to be noted for what it is. Perhaps some voters prefer suspected insincerity (in this matter at least) to suspected credulousness and irrationality. But if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better, if not good, to acknowledge that is what’s being assumed? I also like the notion of weighing Biblical miracles and trying to decide which is less impossible and thus more rational. Is a resurrected messiah less or more impossible than, say, walking on water? Can an impossible thing be more impossible than another impossible thing? Is that how impossibility works – in degrees? Or is it a matter of counting the number of impossible things a given candidate believes, or claims to believe, and opting for the one with the shorter list? The assumptions being made aren’t entirely obvious.