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Questions for Election Candidates


Time for us all to go into election mode.  I’ve seen a lot of elections and to my shame I’ve never properly engaged with politicians.  They came to my door, shook my hand and muttered some platitudes and comments about me doing my best for them on polling day and that was it.  How were they to know what my priorities really were?  Well not any more – I intend to ask each canvasser a small number of questions about the issues that matter to me.  Their answers will inform my decision about how I will vote and hopefully my questions will inform them about the kind of issues I’m concerned about.

We discussed this at the January meeting of the mid-west humanists.  There was general agreement that it is a good idea and that perhaps we should go further.  Some organisations issue questions to candidates and publish the answers as a kind of voters guide.  It is a very good way for an interest group to let politicians and the wider public know about their concerns.  See this example from the Atheist Community of Austin.

We decided to draw up a list of questions relating to humanist/atheist/skeptic concerns that we could send to candidates and publish their answers.  The very fact of sending out a press release will generate interest in the topics chosen and in our work because the media is always looking for new angles during an election.  Listed below are some suggested questions. 

  1. Do you favour bringing education fully into state control?
  2. Do you favour having no law against blasphemy?
  3. Do you favour removing the requirement in the constitution that judges and the president swear a religious oath on entering office?
  4. Do you favour the introduction of legislation to regulate abortion?
  5. Do you favour the removal of funding for religious chaplains in state funded institutions?

Please feel free to suggest amendments or additional questions in the comments.


8 Responses

  1. Well we did it first – so there!

  2. I just noticed that this was published http://www.atheist.ie/2011/01/six-questions-for-secular-voters/

    1. Will you work to reform the education system so that all children in your constituency can access publicly-funded schools which have no religious ethos?
    2. Would you support a referendum to remove religious references from the Constitution, including the religious oath for the President and Judges?
    3. Do you believe that blasphemy should be a criminal offence?
    4. Would you support legislation to prevent state-funded hospitals from having a religious ethos that makes medical decisions based on religious beliefs?
    5. Would you vote to ensure that religious bodies are treated the same as other organisations under equality and employment legislation?
    6. Do you believe that religions, like other organisations, should have to pay their fair share of tax on income that is not used to fund charitable activities?

  3. I think it would be more productive to frame the questions as ‘What are your views on……’
    Politicians seeking election tend to tell all prospective voters what they want to hear. Don’t give the game away & really find out the candidates views.

  4. “Do you favour the introduction of legislation to regulate abortion?”
    Firstly that question doesn’t make any sense. We already have laws regulating abortion in this state. It’s just that it makes it illegal except in the case the mothers life is at risk and even then, as recent court cases have shown, they’re not even enforced correctly .
    What I suspect you’re suggesting is that we as humanists/atheists/skeptics should be checking if candidates DO support abortion. It should be noted not all humanists/atheists/whatever support fully legalised abortion like in the UK. It’s really disingenuous to suggest otherwise. Just because the people making the most noise opposing something are religious it doesn’t mean we as non-religious people automatically support it. Abortion is a complex issue and although many atheists/humanists support the idea it doesn’t really belong on the same list as questions about religious discrimination against us.

  5. I would absolutely favour a complete re-write of the constitution. It is so drenched with religion that it could only have been written with the RCC pulling the strings. Time to grow up as a nation and a good start would be a totally secular constitution. A look to the American document would be a good starting point.

  6. The Workers’ Party favours the establishment of a secular socialist republic and answers “yes” to each of the 5 questions asked above.

  7. Actually I think that would be the best question to ask, Sean: Do you favour re-writing many sections of the Bunreacht na hEireann to reflect the truly pluralistic and multicultural country we inhabit? Or would you rather live in the vague shadow of our catholic ‘heritage?’

  8. I agree of course, and tried something similar on the last round and was met with glazed-eyes and empty platitudes.

    We have to face the uncomfortable reality that what passes for politics in this country is provincial an intellectually barren. I doubt that most of the people calling to our doors would know what motivates an atheist and would care even less.

    To really upset/expose them, ask how they feel about gay marriage, immigration and a rewriting of the constitution.

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