Earlier this week, the Virginian Pilot published an article entitled Forbes versus LeGrow: In God, only one trusts. Rather than focusing on the candidates' stances on political issues, the article focuses solely on the candidates' differing religious beliefs. Not only is this coverage thoroughly distasteful, but some of the comments added by readers demonstrate a sickening level of ignorance and intolerance. Voters in Virginia's 4th Congressional District need to look past religion this November. To do otherwise is to reinforce a culture of bigotry and hate that has plagued this great nation for far too long.
Allow me to start by correcting Mr. Forbes on the language used in the Declaration of Independence. The "Creator" referred to in the Declaration of Independence is not "God" as used in the Christian sense of the word. Rather, the word "Creator" is used here as a metaphor for "Nature". The Treaty of Tripoli clarifies this, explicitly stating that the US "is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion".
Secondly, Mr. Forbes swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Included in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution is the following:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion
Mr. Forbes has sponsored two bills which, if passed, would violate this Amendment:
- H.Con.Res.274 attempts to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as a national motto
- H.Res.397 falsely characterizes the founding of this nation as being religious in nature
By proposing this legislation, Mr. Forbes has made it clear that he has no intention to adhere to his oath to uphold the Constitution and is therefore unfit to hold office. Mr. Forbes also started a "Congressional Prayer Caucus", further blurring the line between church and state.
That's not to mention the fact that Mr. Forbes also participated in Glenn Beck's rally on 8-28-10, an event which was coincidentally held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech and at the same location. Mr. Forbes attendance at this event is an implicit endorsement of Beck's platform. The issues with such an endorsement are too numerous to list here, so instead I'll point to this clip from The Colbert Report and leave it at that.
The real issue that I want to address here, are the reactions from the VA Democrats in the Pilot article. State Delegate Lionell Spruill says "I can't take him to churches as an atheist... That would hurt me." Really? Contrary to popular belief, atheists do not spontaneously combust upon entering churches. Spruill is not in danger of being physically hurt by bringing Dr. LeGrow into a church. Instead the issue seems to be that Spruill is afraid that supporting an atheist for office may harm his chances for re-election. This behavior is inconsistent with the Democratic party's platform, which says that the party is committed to "[e]nding racial, ethnic, and religious profiling" (emphasis mine). Heck, even the Republican platform condones this type of behavior. The US Constitution explicitly states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States". It doesn't get much clearer than that.
Part of the problem is with constituents like Rev. Jake Manley Sr., who says in the Pilot article: "I could not vote for a man who doesn't believe in some power higher than his." Really, this is just a euphemism for "I could not vote for an atheist". This is religious profiling, and not even very subtle at that! If he had instead said "I could not vote for a Black/White/Mexican/Asian/Christian/Jew/Muslim" there would be public outrage! But for some reason, people think it's okay to engage in blatant discrimination against atheists. It's not.
My message to my fellow voters in VA-4 is to not let religion cloud your vision this November. Here we have an opportunity to replace an incumbent who has ignored his Congressional oath with a doctor who cares about providing people with medical care, better education, and a clean energy future. Vote with reason, your nation needs it right now.