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Bay Area Atheists/Agnostics/Humanists/Freethinkers/Skeptics Message Board › "Does Romney's Religious Devotion Make Him More, or Less, Trustworthy?&

"Does Romney's Religious Devotion Make Him More, or Less, Trustworthy?"

user 9892369
San Ramon, CA
Post #: 431
Does Romney's Religious Devotion Make Him More, or Less, Trustworthy?
Sunday, 14 October 2012
By Valerie Tarico, Truthout | Op-Ed­

Are the devout more likely to speak the truth, base policy on objective evidence and demonstrate integrity in public life? It turns out, many religious have nuanced definitions of integrity, and some faith leaders have used that as a license to deceive.

Mitt Romney may be a member of a religious minority, but conservative Christians are working hard to think of him as "one of us." Romney himself is hoping that they will take his religious devotion as a sign that he is a person of integrity, someone to be trusted even if he won't share his tax returns or details of policy proposals. Does religion make people more trustworthy?

Most religious people like to think so. In fact, many Christians believe that when they are taken up to heaven and the rest of us are Left Behind, the world will descend into an anarchy of deceit, exploitation and violence. In the words of the New Testament writer, Christians are the salt of the earth, a shining and uplifted light - a beacon in an otherwise vast moral void. In this view, nonbelief is associated with moral bankruptcy, but the right kind of religious devotion makes people honest and good. In the United States, a confession of atheism can bias voters against a political candidate more than many other factors. By contrast, a Jesus fish in a business logo says, "We are to be trusted." Even people who think that religion isn't true often think that it's a good moral influence. That is why Chris Rodda's book title, Liars for Jesus, had a particular bite.

It is also why scenarios like the following can make maligned nonbelievers feel downright righteous:

A Catholic Archbishop in Kenya tells the laity that condoms help spread HIV, and priests spread the word that rubbers actually are laced with the virus.Gordon Hinckley, president and prophet of the Mormon Church, faces a national audience and an awkward question: Do Mormons teach that God was once a man? "I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it," he told Time Magazine in 1997. A year later he tells Larry King that polygamy is "not doctrinal." A Pakistani Imam, Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, wants Christian families to move out of the neighborhood around his mosque. He plants evidence and then falsely accuses a mentally challenged 11-year-old girl of burning a Quran.An Evangelical historian, David Barton, determines to prove that America was founded as a Christian nation. His popular book, ironically titled The Jefferson Lies, gets pulled from bookstores by his publisher because it contains too many factual "deficiencies."Religious people lie about all kinds of things. So do the rest of us. But in each of these high-profile cases, a public role model was moved to lie in the service of religion itself. Each believed himself on a mission for God, one that could be achieved only by distorting reality. According to the dictates of dogma, lying was the lesser evil - less evil, for example, than contraception, public derision, diversity or secularism, and so faith became the impetus for dishonesty rather than a barrier against it.

The relationship between religion and honesty is, at best, complicated.
[article too large for one posting...continued in separate post...]

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
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