Why would you vote for a president who has a different religion than you? If you are certain of the rightness of your own beliefs, and equally certain of the wrongness of a presidential candidate’s belief, that proves the candidate has, in your opinion, bad judgment about the most important question in reality.
For this discussion, I think you would have to say that someone who believes in a literal interpretation of the bible, complete with devils and angels, has a different religion from a Christian who believes much of the bible is not literal. The point is not whether the two have much in common, but how good they are at determining truth from nonsense. That’s exactly the sort of skill you want a president to have.
Arguably, sorting truth from nonsense is the biggest part of being president. Every big question has multiple possible solutions. The president’s job is to pick the right one.
You wouldn’t vote for a candidate who believes in Ouija boards or horoscopes, because such beliefs would be a reliable indication of simple-mindedness. So why would you vote for a candidate who can’t figure out what version of God is right? If he can’t get that right, according to you, how good is his judgment? You probably think picking the right religion is not a hard challenge, because you got it right without much struggle. You want your leader to be at least as smart as you.
The religion question with presidential candidates usually gets spun as an issue of whether the candidate would put his church ahead of his duties as leader of all people. The politically correct answer is no. But why would you trust a Catholic who wouldn’t take advice from the Pope, who the candidate believes gets advice directly from God? Such a candidate would be a liar or an idiot to ignore advice from God. There simply isn’t a third option. Or is there?
It certainly makes sense to tolerate religious differences among neighbors, as long as they aren’t bothering you. We accept that other people are free to make their own mistakes. You can’t save everyone. But you have no such obligation for open-mindedness when it comes to voting for a president. You want a president who has good judgment, and according to you, that means a person who picked the same religion you did.
Atheists suspect there is another reason people are so willing to vote for a person of another religion: No one really believes what they say they believe, at least not in the same way you believe you have to open the front door in order to walk through it. There are two sorts of belief. One is the type you act on, and the other is the type you use to feel good about your place in the universe. As long as a president doesn’t use religion as a guide to action, then it has no bearing on his potential job performance. And he is not a liar or a hypocrite if you accept the notion that there are two types of belief, and they don’t need to interfere with each other.
Do you buy that?