There is an interesting debate going on in St. Petersburg where mayoral candidate Bill Foster is being attacked for his belief in creationism. As Florida’s fourth-largest city, St. Petersburg has tried to attract businesses and industry. His critics claim that high-tech companies are going to get the wrong impression if the Mayor believes that the Earth was created in six days and that man walked with dinosaurs.
Foster once objected to his son being taught evolution in school. Pinellas School Board wanted teaching about alternatives to the theory of evolution, such as the Genesis account and repeated the ridiculous claims that Darwin contributed to the rise of Hitler and the Columbine massacre. We have seen this attack on Darwin by people like Ben Stein and others recently.
Foster, a member of Starkey Road Baptist Church in Seminole, has not backed down from his views during this debate. He insists that Genesis says that the Earth was created in six days and that this is literally true. He argues that man and dinosaurs clearly existed together despite the fact that there is a 60 million year gap between the two species. His proof is that “[d]inosaurs are mentioned in Job, so I don’t have any problem believing that dinosaurs roamed the earth.” Job refers to a “behemoth.”
Foster asks a legitimate question: “How does my knowledge of scientific theory impact my ability to rationally govern the city of St. Petersburg? It’s completely irrelevant.”
When do the radical personal views of a politician become relevant? We have seen Obama, Clinton, and other politicians routinely use their religious views as part of their campaigns. If it is appropriate to use religious views as a positive element in a campaign, it opens the door for its use as a negative element. It is not clear, however, that Foster has used his religious views as part of his campaign. For a prior column, click here.
Foster’s extreme views on education and Darwin may be a concern for citizens given the influence of a mayor on school board policies and candidates. Moreover, do extremist views indicate something about a candidate’s intellect or judgment? Would it be appropriate for a voter to oppose a candidate who belonged to a cult or a controversial faith? What do you think?
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