Still Hoping for a Secular Miracle

A secular miracle for me would be a politician who claims, “God told me to run for office, but not to accept any financial contributions.”

I’m tempted to write the shortest answer by any Washington Post panelist to any question we’ve ever been asked.

Question: Does God endorse candidates? Answer: No!

I wish even those who aren’t atheists would answer as I did, but apparently not. Any politician whose answer is different from mine has the potential of being downright dangerous. If a candidate says God endorses his or her run, I will run in the other direction and vote for only those who take personal responsibility for their own decisions.

Any candidate who believes God is responsible for his or her election is deluded, and deluded people can’t be counted on to make rational decisions. Psychologist Thomas Szasz said, “If you talk to God, you are praying. If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.”

It’s a sad state of affairs when the best I can say about some politicians is that they are hypocrites, simply pandering to gullible voters. These are the politicians who act as if God’s plans for them always seem to coincide with their own (ungodly) plans for themselves. It reminds me of the time former televangelist and college president Oral Roberts announced during a January 1987 fundraising drive that unless he raised $8 million by that March, God would “call him home.”

Roberts raised $9.1 million, so I guess God postponed calling Roberts home until 2009, when he did die. Regardless of my views on Oral Roberts, at least he had the decency to not run for president.

An extraordinary event is often called a “miracle,” which can have either a religious or secular connotation. It can be viewed as a supernatural event or an event so surprising as to change your view of the natural world. A secular miracle for me would be a politician who claims, “God told me to run for office, but not to accept any financial contributions.”


Herb Silverman Herb Silverman is founder and President Emeritus of the Secular Coalition for America, author of “Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt,” and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Charleston.

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