Dirty tricks or a dirty Islamist? The farce of religion knows no bounds in US Presidential race

It really is a tragedy for the whole world that so many citizens of the only superpower believe the bible to be true. Whichever interpretation of it people follow, they all take it as read that Jesus was a real historical figure of divine origin, and many millions of people accept the ludicrous idea that the Universe is less than 10,000 years old...

We all have to hope that pragmatism, especially in foreign policy, and the power of secular institutions will prevent a slide into theocracy. If it doesn't, we'd better start building bomb shelters (or at least hope the government can remember where the old cold-war ones are!)

This year will see a new President. I expect even members of the most isolated tribes in the jungles of Papua new Guinea have been unable to avoid this fact, indeed they may even discuss the merits of Clinton vs Obama over a dinner of neighbouring tribesmen!

Humorous musings aside, all of the candidates have to profess Christianity of some sort - not to do so would be electoral suicide - and of course questions of religion often crop up in debate.

Obama was openly questioned about allegations that he is a secret muslim, a sort of stealth jihadi - practicing Christian by day, dirty Islamist by night (must be why he disappears to the toilet at set times every day and carries that silly little mat with him, lol).

This stems from the fact that his father was a muslim, and some of the comments I've seen on forums and in the blogosphere show how people feel about this. People seem to think that because in Islam, if you're born to muslim parents (or even just one as in this case), you remain a muslim for life no matter what your professed views, and no matter that he was raised a Christian by his mother. The implications of this (so these people say) are that he will come under massive pressure from the muslim world to alter American foreign policy, and that being by birth a muslim he will be unable or find it extremely difficult to resist.

As an atheist, I am unable really to understand the deep prejudices that religious people feel toward one another, and I find the idea that from conception, a child belongs to a faith for life no matter what they go on to think or learn, frankly disgusting.

No doubt the issue of religion will remain centre stage in the ongoing election campaign. I sincerely hope that whoever wins (and by Jupiter it had better not be Huckabee) they will be pragmatic enough in office to resist the concerted attempts by the religious right to turn a nation founded on secular values into a Christian version of Saudi Arabia. If this happens, no god can save us from armageddon.

Follow the link in the title for The Times' coverage of this story.

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