The generation of leaders that founded the United States of America sought to keep private religious beliefs from the operation of a democratically elected government. Last night, Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock and presidential candidate Mitt Romney both displayed the reason that, constitutional issues aside, mixing religion and politics is a strategically unwise idea.
Last night, in a debate with his right wing Democratic rival Joe Donnelly, Mourdock stated that, if elected to the U.S. Senate, his policies will be directed by the religious belief that rape and pregnancy by rape is “something that God intended to happen”. Soon after the debate, the Mitt Romney for President campaign issued a statement declaring that Mitt Romney disagrees, and believes that God does not intend for rapes or pregnancy by rape to happen.
Richard Mourdock’s reflect a cruel religious perspective that won’t be popular with many voters. Mourdock seems to believe that the Christian god, infinitely powerful, actively desires rapes to take place, and wants women to become pregnant against their will. The fact that Mourdock was using this private religious belief of his to justify withholding abortion services during the very earliest stages of pregnancy, when human life exists in the form of only a few undifferentiated cells, makes him seem particularly sadistic.
Mitt Romney’s position seeks to avoid the Christian sadism of Richard Mourdock, but seems incoherent, upon reflection. Romney’s statement implies that the god he believes in is a rather minor supernatural character, without much power to influence events on Planet Earth. Yet, Romney has stated that he would direct the policies of the federal government of the United States according to the whims of this weak divinity. That seems like a risky idea.
Both candidates would have done better to leave their religious beliefs out of their political campaigns, from the start. The best a person can say about religion is that it provides a set of values based upon stories that aren’t intended to be accepted as literally true. However, both Romney and Mourdock have promoted literal belief in the existence of supernatural beings, who have particular political agendas, and suggested that the U.S. federal government form allegiances with these beings. That choice to mix their literalist religious belief into their political campaigns has led them into cruelty and nonsense.