Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Candidates rate poorly in secular report card
First Published Jan 05 2012 02:48 pm • Last Updated Jan 05 2012 02:59 pm

If kids brought home grades like this, they’d be grounded.

The Secular Coalition for America rated all presidential candidates on nine issues, including church-state separation, civil rights, evolution and taxpayer funding of religion.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

At the bottom of the class is Michele Bachmann, who scored straight F’s before bowing out of the race after the Iowa caucuses. She was followed closely by former Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who both scored a string of F’s and a single C.

At the top of the class were President Barack Obama with three A’s, three B’s and a C — a modest mixed bag — and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman with four B’s and an A.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney racked up five C’s, two A’s and two A’s.

The report card is the first ever issued for presidential candidates by the coalition, said SCA President Herb Silverman and is intended to help "secular-minded Americans" in the voting booth.

Most secularists, however, won’t be voting in a GOP primary: data from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life show that religiously "unaffiliated" Americans tend to favor Democrats over Republicans, 55 percent to 23 percent.

"A lot of people in both parties have mentioned we have freedom of religion, but not freedom from religion," Silverman said. "We want to show that nontheists are an integral part of our culture and should be respected as much as people with other worldviews."

The Secular Coalition for America has 10 member organizations, including American Atheists, the Council for Secular Humanism and the American Humanist Association. Another 33 groups are "endorsing" organizations.

The coalition isn’t alone in rating candidates against a specific agenda. John Green, an expert on religion and politics at the University of Akron, said political score cards have been used by everyone from organized labor to the Christian Coalition, and can be effective tools.


story continues below
story continues below

"First, they publicize candidates’ and officeholders’ positions and records from the group’s point of view to the wider public," Green said. "Second, these report cards can be used to mobilize the group’s members and supporters to vote for or against a candidate."

But how effective they are is debatable. Last year, a study by Georgetown University found that only 16 percent of U.S. Catholics were aware of a voting guide issued every four years by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and only a quarter of those said it influenced their votes.

The coalition will issue an updated report card before the November elections, based on candidates’ responses to a questionnaire. Silverman, whose group sent the guide to more than 35,000 supporters, said he was more disappointed than surprised by the grades.

"Some of the candidates continue to use their faith as a reason for promoting certain programs," he said. "I would rather they indicate why their positions are good based on secular reasons because they are supposed to be following our secular Constitution."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.