Robert Kirby: Does religion belong in politics?

Robert Kirby

Some people take a lot of nonpolitical factors into account when they vote for a political office seeker. How much does religion play in the electoral process for you?

Do you prefer candidates who share your faith, candidates who have at least some faith, or candidates who don’t claim to be deity themselves?

It works the same in reverse. Perhaps candidates who seem to brag about their faith (or just mention it) are a major turnoff for you.

Some candidates will work their religious affiliation into whatever ads that feature their candidacy."

“My name is Ralph Fudge and I approve this message. I also go to church every Sunday.”

“Hi, I’m Bruce Wallop, but you might recognize me better as Bishop Wallop.”

Bringing religion into a political campaign, especially in Utah, seems risky. There are plenty of churchgoers who might think more highly of candidates if they somehow manage to squeeze in the fact that they served a church mission to the Galapagos Islands.

Then again, there are those tired of political meddling by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such statements would have the opposite effect.

“Another #*&@! Mormon in office. That’s all we need. Why can’t we run them off like they did back in Illinois?”

It’s understandable that voters would consider the candidates' brand of faith. It speaks volumes about positions they might take on legislation. U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is a devout Catholic, who is viewed as a surefire opponent of abortion. That alarms some people.

Not that religion is a guarantee as to how a candidate might vote. If I were to somehow get elected to the Utah Legislature, being Mormon wouldn’t necessarily guarantee me voting against a bill that would allow day care centers to serve Benadryl shooters to kids at snack time.

It’s all about the merits of the bill. Or should be.

There are many more polarizing topics when it comes to determining a candidate’s potential worth than a belief in a higher power. Most of these are overlooked by voters.

For example, Ben McAdams is running to keep his seat in Congress from Burgess Owens. Pollsters are predicting a close race.

I don’t care which church they attend, or if they even do. What I want to know is which of them is the better shot. What is their all-time favorite movie. What’s their stand on broccoli? Are they a cat or a dog person?

If it were a deciding factor in the election, would a candidate chew the head off a live rattlesnake, or push his grandma onto some railroad tracks to win?

This sounds ridiculous, but it’s my thinking that those are the real deal breakers. Those things tell you way more about a politician’s character than whether the candidate can stay awake in church.

"Hi, folks. My esteemed opponent Larry Erdman says he would be willing to push his grandmother onto some train tracks. But as we all know, talk is cheap in Washington.

“Well, my name is Robert Kirby, and I have pushed my grandma in front of a train. That’s just how committed I am to serving you in Congress.”

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.