Why do politicians running for office seem to speak so often about their religious beliefs and religious themes? I suspect that it is due, in part, to their belief that their acknowledgement of their faith somehow legitimizes them as decent and dependable. They hope that voters see their churchgoing habits as a sign that they are someone to be trusted.
I’m sure such protestations of faith appeal to some voters, but for me they tend to set off alarm bells. In my experience, vendors who advertise their religious beliefs — say, with a cross on their Yellow Pages ad or a religious saying on the sides of their panel trucks — often turn out to be less than scrupulous. It’s as if such people use the overt religious symbols and sayings as selling points for their services, in an effort to entice the unwary. They appear at your house to give you a quote, sprinkle some Bible phrases or references to “the Lord” or “Christ Jesus” in their presentations, and hope that you let down their guard. And then, weeks later when the job has been done poorly or not done at all, you can’t reach them.
I’m not saying that businessmen who talk openly about their religious views are all a bunch of crooks, but I am saying that, in the business context, people who wear their faith on their sleeve tend to raise my level of skepticism. That same heightened skepticism applies to politicians who dwell upon their religious views. Being religious doesn’t make a person a better plumber or house painter — and I don’t think it makes a politician any more likely to live up to his campaign promises.