Can we afford to live by the rules and regulations of some stone-age desert people who had less knowledge and understanding of the world than a 10-year-old has today (geography, physics, biology, etc.)? And lastly, can we afford to be ruled by people who claim that god told them what to do, (invade Iraq, for example)?
Although as an atheist, I'm skeptical of those who lean too heavily on communication with a god, I grant respect to their beliefs. It is true that President Carter got us into a mess in the Middle-East (and elsewhere) by virtue of his pacifist religious beliefs. However, as with George Bush, this was based upon religious values, not based upon direct communication with God. Talking to God is not the same as holding a two way conversation. One can ask for enlightenment or with help fighting personal demons, as Carter claimed he did when he fought against "sinning in his mind."
The so-called religious right has no monopoly on religious principles which may have an impact on public policy. The religious left is extremely powerful even if the media do not demonize them with those words. The Quakers whose creed is based upon their reading of the words of Jesus concerning turning the other cheek, are devoted to pacifist activities and public protest. I note that President Clinton sent his daughter to a Quaker (Society of Friends) school and that Governor Michael Dukakis was trained at a Quaker school. It is seldom that one will not find an American Society of Friends involvement in war protest, gay rights marches and death penalty vigils. Activists (and presidents) on both the right and left deserve our respect for their values even if we don't agree with them.
One may argue issues without pretending that there is no basis for discussion, because one's opponent is some kind of nut who hears the voice of God in his or her head. If our media were not so biased, we would hear more about the political activities of the Society of Friends, and we would recognize that religious pressure groups have influence on both sides of the aisle. (We were fortunate in our philosophy club to have a talk by a member who went to a Quaker school as well as a member who was active in constructing telephone trees for the purpose of activating protests at a moments notice). Is this an interference of religious belief in politics or a natural expression of people of like values in public affairs?
With respect -Joel