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Austin Cline

Secular Coalition of America is Scoring Political Candidates

By July 18, 2012

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Far-right religious groups have a long history of creating 'scorecards' or ratings guides for political candidates, informing religious voters about where candidates stand on issues and what they've done. Now the Secular Coalition of America is doing it, too, trying to help inform secular voters.

Voter Election Guides
Voter Election Guides
Photo: David McNew/Getty

The far-right religious groups got into trouble more than once with their voter guides because they kept trying to get the guides distributed in churches. Even under the best of circumstances, that came close to crossing a line that would put the churches' tax exempt status in jeopardy.

Fortunately that's one thing that the Secular Coalition of America won't have to deal with, which means that the legitimate and valuable aspect of this -- informing voters who care about secularism -- can proceed in a positive direction.

President Obama received A's for accepting evolution, supporting scientifically based regulations and legislation, combating religious discrimination and promoting civil rights.

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, received an A for accepting evolution and, in the "God, Faith and Governance" category, for saying he separates matters of faith from political leadership.

Mr. Obama got a C in that category, with the group citing an interview on "Nightline" in which the president said he prays for "guidance" in leading the country.

Ms. Youngblood said the group was in the process of updating its scorecard.

"Essentially, we're just trying to give voters what they need," she said.

Source: Washington Times

The Secular Coalition of America is also currently engaged in a national building effort, hoping to have chapters in all 50 sates by the end of 2012. That will difficult, especially with the more religious states, but it should be possible -- and it should make it easier for the SCA to have more influence.

But will they influence you at all? Assuming you had one of their scorecards, do you think you would incorporate it very much into your voting decisions -- at least when it comes to local and state elections (I'll assume that in elections for national office, you're better informed and have stronger opinions already)?

July 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm
(1) Cousin Ricky says:

How did Mr. Romney get an A in “God, Faith and Governance” after his 2008 speech where he defended freedom of religion for believers only, and with his opposition to marriage equality, which he reiterated in his speech at the double-misnamed Liberty University, where he also talked about “religious liberty” (right-wing code for exemption from the laws that apply to everyone else) and “religious conscience” (right-wing code for denying people health care)?

Due to Obama’s support for faith-based initiatives, I would not give him an A in that category. But however much he sprinkles God into his speeches (pretty much a political necessity), I don’t see his policies being influenced by religious dogma. I would certainly give him a higher score than Romney.

I certainly hope they are updating their scorecards.

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