[On Sunday, April 8, Meet the Press had a discussion titled “Religion and Politics.” (Start at 18:18) Part of that conversation included a remark by Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham and a religious leader in her own right, where she stated that she would not vote for an atheist. Her reason, a person cannot be a moral person “without a reverence, a fear of Almighty God.” Host David Gregory and the others sitting on the panel did not call her on this statement.
Additionally, the members of the panel were all Christians, Gregory is a Jew, but Islam, atheism, and other world religions were not represented. This upset me and I wrote the following letter to MTP executive producer, Betsey Fischer…]Betsey Fischer, Executive Producer Meet the Press NBC News 4001 Nebraska Avenue Washington, DC 20016-2733
Re: Religion and Politics
Dear Ms. Fischer:
I had the honor to watch Mr. Gregory’s segment on religion and politics.
I am pleased that you elected to air this segment on this day. I am also pleased that Missouri’s Representative and United Methodist Pastor Emanuel Clever (D-MO) was asked to be a voice of political reason. His position concerning Article VI, clause 3 of the Constitution is one that I not only support, but have written about extensively. (http://inkandvoice.com/2011/11/church-state/)
I do understand that there is a fine line between freedom of expression and the separation of secular and sectarian powers. However, when political candidates use religion as a qualifier to be elected to a position of public trust, that would appear to be a violation of the constitutional mandate.
I am, however, very disappointed concerning two aspects of this segment.
First, Meet the Press did not include an atheist in this discussion. It is important for the American public to know that atheists are patriotic Americans who, for the most part, are not anti-religion. More specifically, we are not all anti-Christian. (http://inkandvoice.com/2012/04/americans-patriots-atheists/)
Second, I am upset that Mr. Gregory did not follow-up on Anne Graham Lotz’s comment concerning atheism. She said that she would not vote for a person who did not believe in God because a non-believer could not be morally good. Listening to Ms. Lotz and the Rev. Billy Graham preach, I can only assume that Ms. Lotz meant the God as believed by Jews and Christians. Fact; many conservative Christians do not believe that Muslims believe in the same God.
Mr. Gregory needed to follow-up by asking if her position included not voting for Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Shinto and other non-western religious groups. Gregory needed to follow-up asking if voting for Christian only, is Ms. Lotz advocating for a Christian government.
I am an atheist, author, educator and weekly essayist for the Columbia Missourian and InkandVoice.com/editorials. I have written in support of those of religion and in support of the separation of Church and State.
Thank you for your time.
David Rosman’s newest book, A Christian Nation? An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs is now available through Amazon.com in paperback or eBook versions.
You can invite David to speak to your group or organization. For more information, please contact him at Speaker@InkandVoice.com