Ah, yes: the perennial Terrible Two Topics. While there is much to say on the twain, I shall only say a jot or two today.
Religion is stacking up to be quite the topic during this election cycle. When questioners bring up the matter of religion, or try to pursue it very far, one of the common preferred responses is, "My religion is very private. I keep it separate from my politics. My religion will not influence me one way or the other in office."
What's surprising about this paint-thin response is how often it works. I suppose we can thank the mainstream media's abysmal ignorance of and incuriosity towards religion or philosophy for that.
This response — if it means anything at all — can only mean one of three things:
- The speaker is a liar
- The speaker is a hypocrite
- The speaker can't rub two live neurons together
I assume that most religions teach something about the meaning of life and all that. Wellsir, that's worldview: the way you look at things, the way you think about things. Your evaluative and interpretive grid.
So what our (not-so) fictional speaker is saying amounts to this: "My worldview doesn't influence how I relate to the world." Which is just as silly as it sounds.
If our speaker knows his statement to be a load of codswallop, then he's a liar. He is knowingly saying what is untrue. (To which many astute readers will doubtless respond, "Hel-lo? Politician?")
But our speaker may be sincere. In that case, he is a hypocrite. His religion is a mere formality. It really does not form his worldview, in which case he does not really believe it.
Still, the third option is a live option. Our man (or woman!) has somehow made it through four to six decades, held positions of power and influence, persuaded people to support him (or her!) to the tune of millions of dollars — and has never thought about anything deeper than an opinion poll. In fact, perhaps he (or she!) chose his (or her!) religion because it polled well.
In any of these cases, I think it is worth knowing. I'd like to know whether the man (or woman!) whose finger I'm going to position next to The Button, who is making me such billowy assurances and sketching out such grand plans, who is trying to hard to win my trust in his (or her!) judgment, who will make choices that could have an effect on my children and their children — whether that person, I say, is a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool.
(Additional related thoughts may be found here.)