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Religion in 08: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (Update)

John on December 14, 2007 at 5:04 pm

With Huck only in the lead for about a week and a half, I’m already sick of the piling on and the general anti-religious climate emanating from many quarters. Charles Krauthammer, whom I respect a great deal, recently said “This campaign is knee-deep in religion, and it’s only going to get worse.”Actually, this isn’t the first time Charles has made this claim. He said much the same thing a week ago in the Washington Post.

Rich Lowry, who I also respect (and still hope to write for one day), has a piece today suggesting that voting for Huckabee is Republican suicide. A number of high profile bloggers have been quick to pile on the anti-Huck bandwagon. The desire to have a candidate who is not quite so religious is palpable. It’s also perfectly reasonable. I have nothing against anyone stating their opinion. I know all of them would extend me the same courtesy. So here goes…

All this outspoken desire to re-secularize the process says as much about the commenters as it does about the candidates. This is the enlightenment approach to faith, i.e. religion is fine so long as it doesn’t actually matter. And that’s especially the case when it comes to politics. I don’t care if you believe in God just keep it to yourself. And please, please don’t talk about it in an election.

That sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach might have worked 40 years ago, as Krauthammer plausibly claims, but let’s face it things have changed:

  • Forty years ago we didn’t have abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy.
  • Forty years ago we weren’t on the verge of making gay marriage normative.
  • Forty years ago, porn wasn’t available to 7 year olds in every home (via the web) and in many libraries.
  • Forty years ago divorce was not “no fault.”
  • Forty years ago, violence and misogyny were not burning up the charts.
  • Forty years ago, Christians weren’t being labeled incipient Theocrats by a plurality of the left.
  • Finally and most importantly, forty years ago we weren’t at war with Islamic fundamentalists who hate us, in no small part, because of the culture we export to the world.

A lot has changed and, by and large, religious Americans (who make up at least 40% of the population) have been told to sit back, shut up and let others do the driving.

It reminds me of the left’s take on the 1992 Republican Convention. All those mean people talking about a culture war. Dan Quayle talking about a fictional TV character. How absurd?! The left, who controlled the press even more then than they do now, made sure it went down as the year of the “angry, white male.” To this day, few remember that the “culture war” wasn’t about imposing theocracy on unbelievers, it was about resisting the push from the other side of the aisle. It wasn’t offense, it was defense. In that sense, those who called it a “crusade” would be right.

The bottom line is this. Religious Americans have no right to impose a religious test for office on all Americans, but they damn well have a right to get straight answers about the deep convictions of the person they elect to be leader of this nation and, de facto, the free world. And, yes, that’s bound to include some questions about morality, truth and religion.

My response to the opinion makers who’ve decided there’s just too much theology being bandied about this election cycle is simple. We’ve seen what silence brings us. The era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is over.

Get used to it.

Update: A related post over at JunkYard Blog about the Huck phenomenon. I don’t know if SeeDubya would agree with what I said above, but I agree with what he said.

Update 12/16: Another case in point. Newsweek reporter/blogger Christopher Dickey concerned about incipient theocracy:

If we are not careful, as we bend to the winds of religiosity that have overwhelmed our political debate, the right to think could well be at stake in many trials to come.

If I can paraphrase a wise man…Each generation is most afraid of becoming that which it is least likely to become. You’re proof of that, Christopher.

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Category: Politics, Religion & Faith |

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