For all the discussion about America becoming a “post-Christian nation,” Americans have a hard time electing presidents who aren’t Christian. Perhaps the closest we’ve come in recent years to a president outside of the Christian tradition was Mitt Romney, and many Christian leaders argued against voting for Romney because of his Mormonism.
This election cycle, one distinctly non-Christian candidate is proving to be a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton’s once certain Democratic nomination: Bernie Sanders.
A Washington Post article on Sanders’ religious views revealed that he believes in the idea of God only in the most vague and inconsequential sense: “To me, it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected, and that we are all tied together.” This concept of deity combined with his emphasis on living ethically suggests that Sanders is functionally a humanist, a conclusion Jennifer Michael Hecht draws in her recent article for Quartz.
Hecht argues that Sanders may be precisely the kind of president we need to govern our divided country. We need a president, the logic goes, not driven by particular religious motives but by universal ethics, unity, and compassion. Citing a number of stats that show a rise in non-religious people in America, Hecht implies that a secularizing country needs a secular leader.
This poses an important question for Christians: Given the changing demographics of our country, and the increased tensions between Christians and more secularized forces in our country over issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, what kind of leader is most equipped to navigate these tensions? Should we elect a secular leader, hoping that he or she can arbitrate ...1