Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

I'm getting out the popcorn for this

It had to happen. The "Value Voters Summit" (the rest of us don't have values, or course) has become an occasion for people to start talking about how Mitt Romney is not a Christian. Reporters, for whatever reason, feel they have to tip toe around this and not actually discuss Mormon theology.

Not that I care, but obviously, Mormons are not Christians. The distance between the Latter Day Saints and any Christian denomination is vastly greater than the distance between Southern Baptists and Catholics. I don't know how many voters will care either, but this does mean that a major problem facing the Republican Party and the contemporary conservative movement in the U.S. has finally come to the surface. When you base party and movement identification on religious identification and theological commitment, you are building a foundation of rubble.

Faith unites the particular people who subscribe to any given version, but it divides them from everyone else. In the U.S. today, we have a secular society in which this doesn't matter to most people in daily life. Our friendships and workplace relationships generally ignore religious affiliation. There is prejudice among some people against Muslims, obviously, but we're on our way, I think, to ultimately integrating Islam into the tapestry as we have done with Judaism.

In politics, obviously, we have not gotten as far toward true secularism as we have in other spheres. Muslim candidates don't have a chance in most places, Keith Ellison being the exception that proves the rule. We elect Mormons and Jews to office quite commonly nowadays, but it's unclear whether either could be elected president. (I hope we don't get an affirmative answer the hard way, with Mitt Romney.) Atheists, however, have no chance, according to polls. We are disqualified in the eyes of more voters than are Muslims or homosexuals. (Truth.)

But, the Republicans are doing everything in their power to make this situation worse. By claiming that the U.S. is a Christian nation, they not only isolate themselves from non-Christians, they also poke the hornet's nest of who actually counts as a Christian. It works to stir up a certain segment of the electorate as long as those people think you're talking about them and saying they are the special, chosen people who should rule. But it means real trouble when they start quarreling with each other about who exactly is in and who isn't.

Enjoy the show.


Anonymous said...


kathy a. said...

isn't this just one of those things that should remind us of the importance of a separation between church and state?

if the various flavors of godly ones want to go at it hammer and tong, fine with me -- all the more reason to focus on real issues. and to discount those who think their god has told them such and such. not a one who wants to impose the dictates of their particular faith on others (i'm looking at some active candidates here) would wish for somebody else's faith to be imposed on them.