Steve Mason in the previous issue (Aug/Sept 2001) discusses Darwinian evolution and reminds us that as a species evolves, variations present in a current generation are not always improvements over a previous generation. He then opines that practice of a religion is diagnostic evidence of an evolutionary throwback.
Mr. Mason enumerates a list of behaviours and beliefs supposedly indicative of an adherence to belief in creation science. Within that list is a phrase which piqued my curiosity: "those who lobby against atheists in the Boy Scouts and vote for presidents who swear on the Bible (seeing no conflict of church and state)"
First, since the Boy Scouts are a private club, rather than an arm of government, lobbying against atheists in that club does not impinge upon the hallowed separation of church and state. So therefore, the expression in parentheses must apply to those who vote for a presidential candidate known to practice a religion.
Mr. Mason may have wished to state that voting for a candidate who practices a religion is as much to be scorned as practicing a religion one's self, and that both actions are similarly indicative of some sort of evolutionary fault.
But true freedom of or from religion, and true separation of church and state, must allow equal access to political office and the means of campaigning, with equal irrelevance placed on each specific choice of faith, including atheism as a faith. (To be certain that no god exists, one must either arrogantly proclaim knowledge of all things in the universe in order to be certain that not a single one of them is a god, or as is more common among atheists, to admit knowledge of only some things, from which one extrapolates in a leap of faith equal to that of a religion, that no other unknown thing could possibly be a god.)
Equal to the evil that a theocracy wreaks in requiring all those who hold public office to adhere to a government-issued religion, is the evil of repression wrought by a form of government in which practice of a religion would disqualify a candidate from seeking public office, or would be grounds for dismissal of a standing officer. That too is a breach of the separation of church and state, and must be as vehemently resisted by atheists as it by religious people.
Therefore, for a voter committed to the idea of separation of church and state, to forgo making an objective choice after separating a candidate's prospective abilities in public office from his personal cosmology, and instead proceed to disqualify a candidate merely on the grounds of religion, would amount to engaging the state's power (in the form of the franchise to vote) in the repression of that religion. It would be an acme of hypocrisy to equate such repression with the freedoms guaranteed by the separation of church and state.