On Tuesday, the Secular Coalition for America (SCA), a lobbying group that represents atheists and non-theists, released its "2012 Presidential Candidate Scorecard." The tool, which takes into account the Libertarian and Green Party candidates in addition to the Republican and Democratic front-runners, is intended to help non-believers select a candidate who is sensitive to their views on the role of faith in government.
Like any report card, candidates are given a grade that ranges from "A" to "F" (D wasn't an option). Only those contenders who are on the ballot in enough states that they would, theoretically, be able to reach 270 electoral votes -- the magic number needed to win the presidency -- are included.
Naturally, one might wonder what the grades are based upon. According to a press release put out by the SCA, the candidates' public statements and actions in five areas and on 17 issues were considered. The main focus of these topics, of course, is the separation of church and state and how it pertains to education, health and safety and a variety of other issues.
Here's how the candidates fared:
- Gary Johnson, Libertarian: B
- Barack Obama, Democrat: C
- Mitt Romney, Republican: F
- Jill Stein, Green Party: Incomplete
A detailed analysis of the contenders' stances on subjects ranging from the contraceptive mandate to "recognition of the U.S. as a secular nation" (Obama scored an "A" in this latter area and Romney received an "F") can be found on the SCA web site. An overview of the scorecard, though, which is broken down issue-by-issue, can be found, below:
Photo Credit: Secular Coalition of America
The SCA maintains that the report card is important for non-believers, as it may help guide their actions at the polls come November. For atheist activists who hold dear to their secular values, it's likely that the candidates' opinions on the separation of church and state will hold sway.
But it's also likely that there are many atheists, just as there are people of faith, whose deep concern for the economy will trump angst over candidates' views on faith in the public sphere. Regardless, the SCA believes that the scorecard paints a telling picture about America's need to return to its purportedly secular roots.
"This scorecard shows that our current politicians still have a long way to go in protecting the secular values that America was founded on," said Edwina Rogers, executive director of the SCA.