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Rocky Anderson A Presidential Candidate Of No Religion

The Constitution of the United States of America is clear on the matter: Religious identity isn’t supposed to be one of the qualifications for a political candidate. The closing words of Article VI of the Constitution are: “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

In presidential politics, this ideal of secular government is routinely ignored. Presidential candidates go to outlandish lengths to prove their Christianity to voters, saying that they’ve received direct orders from the Christian god to make a run for the White House. Barack Obama attends extremist right wing religious events like the Prayer Breakfast, has preacher Rick Warren convert his inauguration into a religious ceremony, and talks about how the Bible dictates White House policies. One would think that these politicians are campaigning to become Preacher In Chief.

A short statement about religion made by presidential candidate Rocky Anderson therefore comes as a welcome surprise.

When Anderson was asked during an online discussion, “What religion are you a part of?”, he gave the following response:

non religious presdiential campaign button“None. I decided when in college that I should carefully consider the best ethical course for my life, then follow those guideposts, without focusing on the theological issues that divert so many people from doing the work that needs to be done, particularly on behalf of those who are most vulnerable and who need the help. I respect those who have, and who live, religious beliefs and values and believe that we each have our own way of making a positive difference while on earth.”

Rocky Anderson’s declaration of no religion, combined with acceptance of other people’s different ideas about religion, is a startling reminder of the approach counseled by the founders of the USA. The Constitution supports freedom of religion through separation of religion and government. Under this arrangement, decisions about religion are private, and not relevant to political debates. Whether a person wants to be religious or not is their own business, not something that the power of government ought to influence either way.

It’s interesting to see what Rocky Anderson said, and what he didn’t say. He said that he’s not part of any religion. That could mean that Rocky Anderson is an atheist. It could mean that he has some individual religious beliefs, but is not a member of any religious organization. What’s important is that Anderson puts such questions in their proper context: Theological debates about religious identity are less important than what we do in the world to try to make it a better place.

What Rocky Anderson is willing to say, while Obama and the Republicans strike poses of conspicuous Christianity, is that a presidential candidate ought to be judged according to deeds, rather than religious creeds.

7 thoughts on “Rocky Anderson A Presidential Candidate Of No Religion”

  1. t ball says:

    Judge by deeds, not by creeds is a slogan I could get behind.

    1. Stephen Kent Gray says:

      I don’t think wether or not a candidate is religious or not or secular or not is that informative on if they would make a good President!

      1. Stephen Kent Gray says:

        The Wikipedia article on him say religion “unknown”.

  2. Charles Manning (manning120) says:

    Thanks for the quotation by Anderson. There’s more to the story. He grew up a Mormon. Wikipedia relates the following:

    “[H]e has described his disagreement with certain doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ, particularly the denial, before 1978, of the priesthood and temple ceremonies to people of African descent . . . Anderson also expresses disagreement with what he describes as the L.D.S. teaching of personal moral abdication through obedience to people in positions of authority . . . Anderson studied ethics, political philosophy, and religious philosophy at the University of Utah. He also explored theological issues in depth and determined that the best course for him was to intensely consider ethical choices, then set certain moral guideposts for his life, and focus on trying to live accordingly, without regard to the doctrines of any organized religion. . . While expressing the importance of some fundamental moral lessons he learned as a young member of the Mormon Church, and while describing the value he places on his Mormon heritage, . . . Anderson has spoken out about the L.D.S. Church’s alleged discrimination against gays and lesbians.”

    The contrast with Obama and the Republicans is startling.

    1. Peregrin Wood says:

      What’s really excellent about Rocky Anderson is that he’s been able to come out of his negative experience without being nasty in return. I’m still working on being able to do that.

  3. Richard Winger says:

    Thank you, Charles Manning. The original post is interesting but your added detail makes the post far more interesting than it would have been without what you added.

  4. Charlotte Scot says:

    Rocky sent out a news release about this on 2/18:

    The news in the past week has been dominated by the attempts of religions to control policy and doctrine in this country. ??Justice Party Presidential candidate Rocky Anderson says this trend cannot be allowed to continue.??“As a country we have long since crossed the line of separation of church and state and this is wrong. People have a right to worship as they choose, or to refrain from worshipping. They don’t have the right to impose their religious beliefs on others.”??Anderson feels that personal religious beliefs entered into the Komen Foundation’s decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood (a decision reversed later.)??“A member of the Komen board, who has now resigned, shares the beliefs of the religious right that Planned Parenthood should not receive founding because, in her view, Planned Parenthood promotes abortion. I served on the Board of Directors of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and provided pro bono legal services for them because of my tremendous commitment to the provision of family planning education and services for all.  One thing we should all be able to agree on is that the best means of preventing abortions is to provide good sex education and offer affordable family planning information and services.” ??Another issue Anderson says is an affront to the separation of church and state is the outcry from religious institutions that take money from the federal government, but don’t want to provide health care if it conflicts with their doctrine.??“The battle over providing contraceptives to women is not about religion.  It is about health care and the irrefutable truth that women have the right to control their own bodies.  The separation of church and state was not so much about keeping religion out of government as is was about not promoting one religious belief over another. ”??Rocky Anderson knows these are hotbed issues but he feels he must speak out on these vital issues.??“I’ve never ‘squirmed’ on these questions and I don’t change my views, as other politicians do, for political expediency. We should all value the diversity in religious (and non-religious) traditions and be respectful and compassionate toward each other. To do that, we should keep religion out of politics.”

    If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Rocky Anderson, please contact: Charlotte Scot at 505-603-2739, email, or visit

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