Orson Scott Card has an article on Beliefnet called "Who Gets to Define 'Christian'?" It was written in response to Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.'s "Mormonism Is Not Christianity."
Card's lies and anti-atheist bigotry are on full display in this single paragraph:
We Mormons don’t agree with you on many vital points of doctrine. But I hope we all agree with each other about this: In a time when a vigorous atheist movement is trying to exclude religious people from participating in American public life unless they promise never to mention or think about their religion while in office, why are we arguing with each other?
A vigorous atheist movement? I wish! We're only about 3 percent of the American population, 9 percent if you include everyone called "non-religious." We're the least trusted group according the polls. At best only 45 percent of the population would vote for an atheist, and that's the bigotry Mr. Card wants to plug into.
Sure, some atheist books have ascended to the top of national bestseller lists. Christopher Hitchens’s God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything has, since its May 1 publication, sold 58,000 copies, according to this Publishers Weekly article. Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion, published last September, has sold 282,000 copies. The population of the United States is 301,139,947. Can you do the math Mr. Card? How do their sales compare with the sales of Tim LaHaye's and Jerry B. Jenkins' "Left Behind" books which have sold more than 62 million copies.
And according to Mr. Card this atheist movement is "trying to exclude religious people from participating in American public life unless they promise never to mention or think about their religion while in office." Where the hell does that even come from? How exactly are we trying to exclude religious people or silence them? By pointing out how crazy their statements are?
I'll admit that I'm a bit disgusted by all the god-blathering politicians have to do to get elected but there is a kind of god-blathering I consider "safe and sane enough" to vote for. For example, John Kerry's semi-quoting of Lincoln's "we pray that we are on God's side and not blaspheme and claim he is on our side," by saying: "I don't want to claim that God is on our side... I want to humbly pray that we are on God's side." Does Mr. Card think only a secretly crypto-atheist would say such a thing? John Kerry was accused of secretly being an atheist in addition to getting swift-boated.
There is, however, another kind of god-blathering I don't consider safe or sane, such as Kansas Senator and presidential candidate Sam Brownback's New York Times Op-Ed, "What I Think About Evolution," and Rep. Ben Bridges' and Rep. Warren Chisum's memo that called for the end of “tax-supported evolution science” because it has a religious agenda to name a few examples.
Does Mr. Card know the difference between safe and sane god-blathering and dangerously insane god-blathering? Or does the more god-blathering a candidate does make him a better candidate in my Mr. Card's mind? He doesn't seem like someone who would connect the Christian Right to the rise of American Fascism.
Then Mr. Card notes how "Christians" fight among themselves rather than defeat this dangerous atheist enemy. Like we atheists don't argue among ourselves?
Remarkably, Mr. Card inserts that paragraph just a few paragraphs after writing this:
We are as legitimate, as citizens and therefore as potential officeholders, as anybody else in America. Because there is no religious test for holding office in America.
And if you try to impose one, by saying that all persons belonging to this or that religion should never be elected president, then who is it who is rejecting the U.S. Constitution? Who is it who is saying that people with certain beliefs are second-class citizens, for no other reason than their religion?
You want to know who is it who is saying that people with certain beliefs are second-class citizens? How about the Democrat Mr. Card warning Republicans of a vigorous atheist movement that is trying to exclude religious people? Yea, right, 3 to 9 percent of the U.S. voters are going to exclude you Mr. Card. We can't even get most of the younger ones to vote at all they're so disgusted by politics.
If anyone is excluded as potential officeholders it's us atheists and it is in part because of liars like Mr. Card. Mr. Card who thinks he can make Mitt Romney acceptable to Republicans by repeating the magic word, "Jesus."
What if we define “Christians” the way most people would: “Believers in the divinity of Christ and in the necessity of the grace of Christ in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God.”
Or, “People who believe Christ is the Son of God and the only way to please God is by following Christ’s teachings as best you can all your life.”
Or how about, “People who believe that the New Testament is scripture and that its account of the life, death, resurrection, and teachings of Jesus is true and that we should act accordingly.”
We can come up with a lot of definitions that do a much better job of describing what most people mean when they use the word “Christian.”
How many ordinary Christians actually know or care about the “historic creeds and doctrinal affirmations” that form Dr. Mohler’s definition-of-choice?
That's what I would call mumbo-jumbo. Mr. Card repeatedly uses the magic, saving words, "Jesus," "Christ," "Christian," "New Testament," "God" and "Son of God" while being vague about the underlying details of what is believed about Jesus. Does he believe that Jesus cast demons out of a man and put them in pigs? Does he believe his faith can literally move mountains? Does he think Jesus came from a planet near a star called Kolob? Does he think "Christians" should establish an American theocracy? (Well, he probably doesn't but a number of the Republicans Mr. Card wants to reach probably do.)
Does Mr. Card care what some Christians he might vote for believe? If religious faith is so important would he vote for Osama bin Laden before he voted for an atheist? Interestingly, Mr. Card, a Democrat, decided to contrast Bill Clinton with George Bush:
How then would we find out what he really believes? What his standards are? How well he keeps his commitments? It’s not impossible to determine that even with people whose religious commitments are, shall we say, skin deep. It wasn’t hard to find out what Bill Clinton’s standards of truth-telling and word-keeping were before he was elected; he absolutely performed exactly as his past behavior had given us reason to expect. We got what we voted for.
So, Bill Clinton's god-blathering wasn't good enough for the Democrat Mr. Card? Did he vote for George Bush of whom he says:
Think about it. How often has President Bush been mocked because he believes he was born again? How often have his critics ridiculed him because he believes that when he prays, God hears him and even, sometimes, answers?
You mean that guy who got elected president twice in spite of being mocked and whom many people would now like to see impeached?
The president who just recently commuted Scooter Libby's sentence after saying this about the commutation process? Yea, right, Georgie has been a great example of a faithful president.
His profession of membership in a Church gives us a way to find out about the standards of good and evil, of right and wrong, that his religion teaches.
Umm... like we learned about George Bush's standards of good and evil, of right and wrong, that his religion teaches?
What I'd like to know about a presidential candidate is how they define the difference between good and evil because that's how you tell if they've fallen victim to the Manichean delusion. The Manichean delusion is the self-anointing of "us" as good and "them" as evil. Everything you do is good, everything your proclaimed enemy does is evil.
Just using the words Mr. Card does here, their paring, "good and evil," is a clue to his having become a victim of the Manichean delusion himself, because the opposite of "good" is not "evil" -- the opposite of "good" is "bad." Good is something that fulfills its role well, a sharp knife is a good knife, a dull knife is a bad knife. The opposite of "evil" is "love." Love is nurturing and caring and helping while evil wants to kill and cause pain, cause damage, halt plans.
The problem with such a non-Manichean definition is that doing evil can be a necessity in war.
Where I would be worried is when we have a candidate who does not profess any religion, or does not live up to the standards of the religion he professes.
In other words, Mr. Card is one of those many people who would not vote for an atheist and just might prefer Osama bin Laden as our president. Well, that might not be fair, but he sure doesn't seem to be warning those Republicans away from the Pat Robertsons, the James Dobsons and others.