The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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October 7, 2012

Robin L. Quillon | Religious bigots aggravate grueling campaign season

— Are you as tired as I am of this long election year? It feels like the campaign has been going on for four years now.

Maybe you do as well, but I have family and friends on both sides of the aisle who absolutely love this political stuff. They eat, sleep and drink it. Their idea of relaxation and fun is proselytizing for their party. 

In the newspaper business, it is vital we are engaged in this political process by meeting and unpacking the views, ideas and positions of all the candidates. We want to clearly understand them and report to you what their vision is concerning our region, state or nation. That is our job and duty to you – our readers.

We literally spend hours and days devoted to talking with and understanding the positions and differences between the candidates for each office. I wish everyone could do the same and not rely solely on the commercials, editorials, rumors or surrogate talking points to guide their votes.

While our republic mandates this process every two, four and six years, still, it wears me down. Frankly, by this time, I count down the days until it is over. I look forward to returning to a normal flow and routine – the rutting season finally comes to an end.

I am tired of the never-ending political commercials, the endless junk mail. I am tired of the aggressive point and counterpoints, the twisting and turning of words to suit a position. I am tired of the character assassinations. I am tired of the constant grappling for the upper hand. I am tired of the talking heads on all the networks. I am tired of the spin doctors and the cascading flow of slanted, so-called press releases. I kid you not, folks, we recently received a press release from a party asking us to tell readers about a political TV commercial they were releasing!

I am tired of the networks that have completely lost their reporting objectivity and credibility. I am tired of the way it makes me feel inside about politics and those elected to serve. I am tired of the vitriol. I am tired of the promises made and broken. I am tired of the excuses for failure. I am tired of the constant blaming of others.

But most of all, I am sick and tired of the religious bigots who vote, NOT based on a person’s character or vision for America, but solely – and I mean solely – because that candidate chooses to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, which might be different than that of their own.

I spoke to one such narrow-minded bigot the other day. In the end, this conversation opened my eyes to this sad-but-true fact: Religious bigotry is alive and well right here in our backyard.

I am reminded of what John F. Kennedy said in an address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in 1960 as he sought the presidency. He implored the nation: “I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected president. The real issues in this campaign have been obscured – perhaps deliberately – in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again – not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me – but what kind of America I believe in.”

I recommend to this local bigot to read and ponder the speech given by Martin Luther King in 1963. King, speaking in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the great civil rights movement, said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Imagine that, judging or voting for a candidate based upon the content of his or her character, or by what kind of America he or she believes in.

Unfortunately, religious bigots are incapable of understanding the true meaning of these great words. They cannot see past their extreme and exclusionist hatred. They are often blinded by the ignorant, false traditions of their fathers and are incapable of correcting their insidious paths.

I pity the religious bigots; it must be a frustrating, lonely and angry life.

Indeed, I am tired of this grueling political process. But it is a necessary one, one which I embrace wholeheartily. This peaceful transition of power in America is the envy of the world.

It is an absolute shame that religious bigots will squander – and it is their right to do so – their votes solely based upon someone’s religious beliefs.

Robin L. Quillon is publisher of The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at rquillon@tribdem.com.

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