Would Sanders be a Godless President?

Once upon a time, Bernie Sanders would have had another political vulnerability besides his socialism — namely, his atheism.

In 2016, a Democratic National Committee staffer had to apologize after the WikiLeaks hack exposed an email he wrote that suggested using Bernie’s atheism against him in the primary.

This year, Bernie’s religion — or lack of it — has barely made a ripple or even occasioned any comment. It used to be expected that serious presidential candidates would have religious faith and discuss it, in keeping with the religious coloration of the country they sought to govern. Just as the taboo against openly socialist candidates has given way, so has the old norm about religiosity eroded nearly to the vanishing point.

Sanders, a secular Jew, doesn’t call himself an atheist. The way he puts it is that he isn’t “actively ­involved in organized religion,” and that he believes in God, just not in a traditional matter. “To me,” he has said of his religion, “it means that all of us are connected, all of life is connected and that we are all tied together.”

Asked by Jimmy Kimmel whether he believes in God, he said, “I am what I am. And what I believe in, and what my spirituality is about, is that we’re all in this together.”

Functionally, this means his religion is indistinguishable from the vision of solidarity undergirding his socialist politics.

Indeed, the connection to Israel that Sanders touts to prove that he isn’t anti-Israel had much more to do with a political commitment than a religious one.

He lived for a time on a kibbutz in 1963 as a guest of a secular, socialist youth movement. According to the New York Times, the kibbutz “saw the Soviet Union as a model and often flew the red flag at outdoor events.” Sanders told a publication called Jewish Currents that “it was there that I saw and ­experienced for myself many of the progressive values upon which ­Israel was founded.”

His brother said of Bernie in a 2016 Washington Post interview that “he is quite substantially not religious.”

Read the rest at: Godless

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