« More on "sprawl" . . . | Main | Philip Roth: Men and Homo Academicus »

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Religion in Politics: Bad, Except When Good

It is an opinion commonly expressed by some liberals: socially conservative religious folks are entitled to their personal religious beliefs, but they ought not inject those beliefs into political and legal debates.  I've heard it said, for instance, that religious people may well choose not to abort, but they have no business telling nonbelievers (or those who believe differently) what to do, much less to legislate based on religious beliefs.

But do we really believe that religious beliefs have no place in national social and legal debates, that people must check their religious passions at the church/synagogue/mosque/ashram/temple/monastery/whatever-else-I've-forgotten door?

Put aside the obvious, that abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement were inspired and driven by religious belief and commitment, something that the popular (or at least, the northern white liberal) mythology seems to paper over to some degree.  Focus instead on one of today's socio-legal debates, the death penalty. 

According to this article, socially and religiously conservative Catholics increasingly question and oppose the death penalty.  When conservative Senators Santorum and Brownback raise questions about the death penalty, their motivation is plainly and unabashedly religious.  Same goes for the Pope and the various Priests, Nuns, and Bishops who have joined the abolitionist cause.  Yet liberal death penalty opponents seem more inclined to welcome these folks into the fray and less inclined to instruct them to keep their religious beliefs to themselves.

Am I missing something?  Is there a principled distinction between the death penalty and abortion such that religion may legitimately be brought to bear on the former but not the latter?

Posted by Hillel Levin on December 14, 2005 at 10:49 AM in Hillel Levin | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c6a7953ef00d834ae11af69e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Religion in Politics: Bad, Except When Good:

» Experiencing levitra. from Generic levitra.
Levitra users. Levitra experience. Levitra online. Levitra. [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 24, 2009 1:59:40 PM

» Carisoprodol. from What is carisoprodol.
Somas with carisoprodol doese t containt codine. Carisoprodol phentermine yellow. Carisoprodol. Carisoprodol fedex. [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 26, 2009 2:00:54 AM

» Levitra. from Buy sublingual levitra online.
Liquid levitra. Buy sublingual levitra online. Levitra side effects. Cialis viagra levitra. Levitra. [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 27, 2009 1:32:12 PM

Comments

Good question. Perhaps the liberal presumption against state violence plays a role: state violence can be opposed on any ground but can be supported only for "neutral" reasons. I'm not a member of the neutrality-liberal camp, so this is just a guess.

Posted by: Adil Haque | Dec 14, 2005 11:16:44 AM

I'm not sure how one whose job is to determine the law might separate "religion" from "morality", insofar as they are essentially the same thing. I am not pursuaded either that law and morality are separable, to the extent that it's hard to see what law IS based on other than morality (for example, explain why murder is wrong without use of moral terms).

I know you don't want to talk about the abortion thing here, but I would note on that point that while I am pro-life, I have a great deal of respect for many pro-choice people because I understand that their views are rational and internally consistent within their intellectual paradigm. The people I have no respect for are people who claim to be "personally pro-life while politically pro-choice," i.e., they think abortion is murder, but are perfectly happy to allow what they believe to be genocide to continue unimpeded by law. (Hence, the second debate was the moment where I got off the fence vis-a-vis John Kerry and realized I'd made a terrible mistake in even thinking about supporting him). Likewise, if you believe that the death penalty is wrong, you have an obligation to pursuade others of your view, otherwise you're tacitly condoning the practise.

To me, church and state are separable, but faith, morality and politics are not.

Posted by: Simon | Dec 14, 2005 12:47:51 PM

Simon:

I think you are way off. Someone may personally be "prolife" without believing that "abortion is murder." There are many religious jews who believe that abortion is wrong in very many circumstances, but who also believe that it should be legal because it is permissible (and perhaps even required) in certain other circumstances. Similarly, there may legitimately be people who believe that abortion is wrong for religious reasons, but that adherence to religious law is a matter between an individual and god.

More importantly, to put the question back to you: suppose you believe that anyone who does not accept jesus is damned to a life in hell, and that belief in jesus is as morally required as opposition to murder. Do you really think that the rest of us should stand by while such a person tries to legislate belief in Jesus?

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Dec 14, 2005 12:53:58 PM

I don't entirely agree with your premise. At the risk of generalizing, it's not that the left believes religiously motivated views are per se invalid in the political/legal spheres -- or at least, the left doesn't believe that all such views are per se invalid. To the extent that one's view is informed by one's faith, that view has as much legitimacy as any other in the political sphere.

Instead, it's that subset of religious views that effectively ends debate -- "This is what God says, anything else is wrong, end of discussion" -- that are problematic. The reason these views are discounted is that there's no way to respond that moves the debate forward. If the religious view is expressed in such absolute terms, the other side can't hope to persuade, can't reach a middle ground, can't point to contrary facts or evidence.

Religiously motivated anti-death penalty advocacy is a good example. If an advocate states flatly, "Killing people is wrong. It's one of the commandments. Anyone who disagrees with me defies God," the view is likely not to get much traction in the public debate, because it doesn't leave any room for discussion. But if, instead, the speaker argues that the death penalty is wrong because all people have the potential for redemption, and this view is motivated by religious teachings, the view contributes to the public discourse. I don't see this as an inconsistent position.

Posted by: Jeremy | Dec 14, 2005 1:00:52 PM

For a liberal atheist like me, sometimes the religiously-inspired reasoning leads to the same end(s) as mine, which is perhaps the easiest outcome to take (for me, that is). The religious thrust of many civil rights leaders argued for the equal treatment of all humans, as did a humanitarian but non-religious agitators' stance. I think there are common moral grounds to argue from, other than the reducibly religious ones.

And the incredible diversity among those who have fought for civil rights - not just in this country, but elsewhere - is perhaps more interested in highlighting the universality of the position than in recalling its religious sources of inspiration (which I agree, were strong and deep-rooted, but not by any means the whole story). I don't think that's denial, though. I think that the strongest case for a position can be made precisely by extrapolating a claim to a universalist view: "all people should be treated equal" is stronger when it's not based in religion, particularly in a country that is theologically as diverse as ours (and, I would hope we can agree, wonderfully so).

Where it instantly gets more troublesome is when there are religious outcomes that may, or will, transpire. For instance, some of my religious friends think that while public welfare should be greatly reduced, private giving - by churches and other charitable organizations - should be greatly increased. They don't mind, of course, that the recipients of Christian charity may have to meet the approval of the givers involved. But what if the recipient is adamantly and vocally anti-Christian - is she out of luck? One problem with "privatizing" charity might specifically arise if the bulk of charitable giving falls into the purview of religious institutions. Obviously, it might go another way. But this is where someone religious and I might part ways as to the means, even if we are allied as to the cause (ameliorating poverty, say), and even if we both believe in the importance of enhanced private giving overall.

I feel a similar tension in the death penalty area, where the whole idea of "redemption", with its vaguely Judeo-Christian overtones, troubles me. I am adamantly opposed to the death penalty, primarily on the ground that a civilized society ought not engage in an "eye for an eye" (telling language!) practice. But where death row penitents have argued that their new-found religiosity renders them "redeemed", evinces their fitness to re-enter society, and merits their clemency? I just find that clemency on those grounds woudl be plain and simple religious discrimination; and I would have to object strenuously to claiming any alliance with those who are sympathetic to my anti-DP views from a religiously informed point of view.

So no, of course as an atheist I wouldn't want someone to check the basis of their world-view at the door. But I might find where their view leads them to create a schism between their views and mine. And further, I would want my view - even if it's the minority view in this country - to have fair representation at the legislative table. That's only Constitutional, though, isn't it? (or am I begging the question?)

Posted by: savitri | Dec 14, 2005 1:50:19 PM

I think you are way off. Someone may personally be "prolife" without believing that "abortion is murder."I can think of no legitimate reason to be pro-life unless one believes that abortion is murder. Any other reason would amount to simply a desire to control women's autonomy; the only reason I am pro-life, and therefore willing to accept a policy position which places a substantial and restrictive burden on women - indeed, the only reasonable cause for being so of which I can conceive - is because I believe those interests must be balanced against the life of the child that abortion kills. To justify such draconian curtailment of a woman's freedom, there has to be a pretty weighty competing interest on the other side of the balance. What else can one offer, other than the life of a child, to sit on the other side of that balance? That's not a rhetorical question, what other legitimate reason could one possibly have for being pro-life if not conviction that abortion is murder?

More importantly, to put the question back to you: suppose you believe that anyone who does not accept jesus is damned to a life in hell, and that belief in jesus is as morally required as opposition to murder. Do you really think that the rest of us should stand by while such a person tries to legislate belief in Jesus?Well, ipso facto, Christians believe that one "who does not accept Jesus is damned to a[n] [afterlife]life in hell", which is precisely the purpose of evangelism. You can't legislate belief, and I think most Christians realize and appreciate that much. What you can do is to have a code of law which is sympathetic to (or at least, non inimical to) Christian morality, and the extent to which such a code can be created without violating the first amendment is the extent to which they should be permitted to do so, having won an election.

Posted by: Simon | Dec 14, 2005 2:18:11 PM

Religiously motivated anti-death penalty advocacy is a good example. If an advocate states flatly, "Killing people is wrong. It's one of the commandments. Anyone who disagrees with me defies God," the view is likely not to get much traction in the public debate, because it doesn't leave any room for discussion.I actually just read Closed Chambers, and this passage reminds me a lot of Lazarus' heaping of the blame for the trajectory of conservative jurisprudence vis-a-vis the death penalty at the doors of Justices Brennan and Marshall. Their constant insistence of a flat, abolitionist stance - all the worse for the fact they weren't just talking about abolishing the death penalty legitimately, they wanted to rule it unconstitutional - made them appear unreasonable, dogmatic and ultimately, they not only lost any semblance of credibility wher capital punishment was concerned, but drove colleagues to more extreme positions than they might otherwise have taken (White, in particular).

Posted by: Simon | Dec 14, 2005 2:32:51 PM

Simon:

I do think that someone can believe that abortion is the wrong thing to do with believing that a fetus is the equal of an infant or a grown person. Many religious jews believe exactly that, and therefore categorize themselves as generally prolife (with some exceptions) without believing that an abortion is akin to taking the life of an adult. It seems to me that your definition of "prolife" is tautological: to be prolife is to be against all abortions ever, and the only reason to be against all abortions ever is the belief that abortion is murder; therefore, prolife equals a belief that abortion is murder.

More important, of course, is the second question I posed. In fact, your view that one cannot legislate belief is rather modern and ahistorical. Forced conversion; forced baptism; forced church attendance are very much a part of our western christian history. So let's assume, in that good law school manner, that there are some people who believe that they are required by God to do so. And we don't have to assume, because there are such people. Are we to sit back and treat them as equally democratically legitimate to any other lobbying group? Suggested answer: no.

Please note that I'm actually in bottom-line agreement with you that it is absurd to ask people to completely drop their religious beliefs in the voting booth. But your stronger claim seems to me equally untenable. That is, the rest of us can say that some things are completely illegitimate.

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Dec 14, 2005 2:42:56 PM

Incidentally, lest it be misunderstood, I don't have a strong position on the death penalty (or at least, I am torn between two completely opposite strong positions). As a result, if I had a free hand to write the law in Indiana (wouldn't that be nice), I would abolish the death penalty, deferring to my concerns as to potential miscarriage of justice and physical suffering of the condemned. I also maintain that certain methods of execution - the electric chair in particular - are unconstitutional. But I none-the-less maintain that the death penalty itself is constitutional. This subject area troubles me a great deal.

Posted by: Simon | Dec 14, 2005 2:43:44 PM

I do think that someone can believe that abortion is the wrong thing to do with believing that a fetus is the equal of an infant or a grown person. Many religious jews believe exactly that, and therefore categorize themselves as generally prolife (with some exceptions) without believing that an abortion is akin to taking the life of an adult.Well, I realize that some people are pro-life without believing that abortion is murder. But as I said above, "[t]o justify such draconian curtailment of a woman's freedom [as banning abortion], there has to be a pretty weighty competing interest on the other side of the balance;" in my view, only the life of the child weighs sufficiently to justify banning abortion. I don't know for what other reason religious jews might be anti-abortion, but it'd be interesting to find out. From a distance, of course, since I don't think I'd be likely to accept their reasons as legitimate. ;)


[Y]our view that one cannot legislate belief is rather modern and ahistorical. Forced conversion; forced baptism; forced church attendance are very much a part of our western christian history. So let's assume, in that good law school manner, that there are some people who believe that they are required by God to do so. And we don't have to assume, because there are such people. Are we to sit back and treat them as equally democratically legitimate to any other lobbying group? Suggested answer: no.Well, no, but principally because doing so would be violative of the first amendment. There may well be other reasons too, but since "[f]orced conversion; forced baptism; forced church attendance" would be per se establishment (and almost certainly violative of free exercise) there's no nedd to reach more deep reasons.

Posted by: Simon | Dec 14, 2005 2:52:32 PM

You are question-beggaring. We're not talking about the descriptive question of whether this violates the first amendment. We are asking the normative question: is this a legitimate and desirable force in democratic-republican (small "R" of course) politics? The first amendment has nothing to do with it.

But let's talk for a moment about the first amendment. How is acting on your solely godly assurance that abortion is murder, and further your godly assurance that you have a duty to prevent such murder, and different from acting on a godly assurance that my soul will go to hell if you don't convert me, and further your godly assurance that you have a duty to prevent me from going to hell?

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Dec 14, 2005 3:02:45 PM

As to the first part - I don't agree that it's irrelevant. If a law would be unconstitutional, there's not much point in mooting it, except for academic interest. Which, um, I guess this is, LOL.

As to the second part - I'm not sure if that's rhetorical or not; my belief that abortion is murder is not religiously-grounded. I'm not a Christian. Murder is generally considered to be morally wrong even by atheists, so there's no reason why that might need religious motivation.

Posted by: Simon | Dec 14, 2005 3:32:16 PM

As to the first part, that's exactly what this is, an academic interest (though I think it has application beyond), so I'd be curious as to what your thoughts are.

As to the second, the "you" in the question was the figurative "you." That is, the person who believes that a fetus is the same thing as an adult because God said so, and who therefore thinks it is murder to abort it; and who also believes she has a duty to work to prevent murder.

Now, as it happens, I don't really think that most people who claim to believe that abortion is murder and the equivalent of killing a child actually believe that at all. Exceedingly few would support similar punishments for mothers who choose to abort; and exceedingly few would choose to save a thousand embryos from the proverbial burning building instead of the single adult.

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Dec 14, 2005 3:39:42 PM

I don't know that I can separate it to the extent that would be required. My gut instinct is that I don't think that it is desirable for people to legislative religious adherence, even absent the first amendment, but we quickly start to get into a gray area of what laws are compelled by religious belief vs. which are merely intrusive. I don't think it's appropriate to legally mandate attendance at church, but I do think that it's appropriate to legislate based on moral views - which stem from religious views, even in the nonbeliever - with the consent of the majority. But I'm having problems putting into words precisely what the difference is.

Posted by: Simon | Dec 14, 2005 4:28:00 PM

If I may intervene in the Simon-Levin debate: both are partly right. Levin is correct that you may believe that abortion is immoral, while opposing its criminalization. This is because the reasons to criminalize behavior come from political philosophy, which concerns the proper use of the coercive power of the state, not from moral philosophy, which concerns right individual action. We do not criminalize every immoral action: lying or cheating, for example (unless fraud or perjury). And we may have lots of consequentialist reasons not to criminalize abortion even if we thought it was immoral. On the other hand, Simon is right that if you consider abortion MURDER then you must favor its criminalization, because the same reasons to criminalize murder favor criminalizing abortion. But saying that abortion is morally objectionable is not the same as saying that it is murder. We may think that abortion belongs is precisely a kind of immoral action that, on balance, we should not criminalize, like lying or cheating.

Posted by: Fernando Teson | Dec 14, 2005 4:50:54 PM

Fernando:

In fact, I do not disagree with you. As I've written elsewhere, I fully understand why those who believe it is "murder" (whether for religious reasons or other) would outlaw it. And, as you note, I obviously agree that one can believe it is immoral, yet still choose not to outlaw it.

I've also expressed doubt that people who claim to believe that abortion is murder TRULY so believe. If they do, must they not advocate the same kind of punishments for abortion that they do for other "murders"?

One sticking point between Simon and me that you do not address is that Simon seems to believe that one could ONLY choose to outlaw abortion if she believes it is murder.

Posted by: Hillel Levin | Dec 14, 2005 4:56:38 PM

But saying that abortion is morally objectionable is not the same as saying that it is murder.There's quite a lot I disagree with on some level or another in your post, but this sticks out in particular, not because I disagree with it, per se, but because I just don't understand the premise of the point. For what other reason might one say that abortion is morally objectionable? I mean, obviously if one thinks abortion is murder, then one will think it is morally objectionable. But if one does not think abortion is murder, what exactly is it about the action of abortion which might be morally objectionable? I just can't think of any other basis for it.

One sticking point between Simon and me that you do not address is that Simon seems to believe that one could ONLY choose to outlaw abortion if she believes it is murder.That's not quite an accurate statement of my views; as noted above, I realize that there are people who are anti-abortion who do not believe that abortion is murder, I just don't recognize the adequacy - validity, even - of any other reason. I.e., it's not that I believe that "one could ONLY choose to outlaw abortion if she believes it is murder," rather, I believe that one can only reasonably choose to outlaw abortion if one believes it is muder, absent some other equally-compelling reason. No matter how much one likes or dislikes abortion on an abstract level, it remains inescapable that outlawing abortion places an immensely invasive restriction on the lives of women. In order to justify such an intimate and invasive restriction, there has to be a genuinely compelling reason to do so, and I just don't see what else could shoulder that burden other than belief that abortion is murder.

Posted by: Simon | Dec 14, 2005 5:57:47 PM

I think that Hillel responded already to the point you make, Simon. I may consider abortion immoral because it kills the fetus, which (I may think) is bad, but not as bad as killing a live human being. I may also believe that there are all kinds of bad social effects of outlawing abortion, such that, while remaining free to criticize and discourage those who perform it, would (reluctantly, perhaps) not criminalize it. Compare with killing a cat. Suppose I want to say that wantonly killing a cat is immoral. Suppose, further, that, for whatever reason, I don't want to criminalize cat-killing. You may retort that "cat-killing is murder, what possible reason may you have against cat-killing other than it is murder?". As Levin pointed out, this is a fallacy. I morally condemn cat-killing but don't believe it's murder, and, for a number of other reasons, I don't think it is a good idea to criminalize it. (Needless, to say, I don't necessarily endorse all this, in fact, I think that cat-killing ought to be a crime, but it is certainly not murder.)
My own provisional view on abotion is that in many situations it is plainly immoral ("I want to abort to play the tennis tournament"); in many others ("I am poor and can't support the child") it is perhaps less immoral but still troubling; and in a narrow set of circumstances (saving the mother's life) it might be justified. I certainly agree with the spirit of your position, namely that those who see abortion on a same footing with nail-clipping are morally perverse.
I would be curious to know what other things in my post you find objectionable.

Posted by: Fernando Teson | Dec 14, 2005 8:21:34 PM

I think it's pragmatic. What political group ever discourages allies who aren't widely considered as noxious (don't expect the liberals to cheer on neo-naxis or NAMBLA if those groups were to oppose the death penalty)?

Posted by: jc | Dec 15, 2005 9:07:06 AM

I have to respond to Simon's comments, particularly these:

"I can think of no legitimate reason to be pro-life unless one believes that abortion is murder. Any other reason would amount to simply a desire to control women's autonomy"

"For what other reason might one say that abortion is morally objectionable? I mean, obviously if one thinks abortion is murder, then one will think it is morally objectionable. But if one does not think abortion is murder, what exactly is it about the action of abortion which might be morally objectionable? I just can't think of any other basis for it."

It seems to me that there are multiple reasons to see abortion as morally objectionable without equating it to murder. The unnecessary ending of life might be considered immoral -- though not equivalent to murder; the failure to take accountability for one's actions (e.g. having unprotected sex) might be considered immoral -- and certainly not equivalent to murder.

But I thought you might be interested to hear the Mormon church's stance on the matter. (Hillel has offered the stance of some Jews as exemplary of a pro-life position that does not equate abortion with murder, so I'm offering another.)

The Mormon stance is interesting because the Mormon church rarely takes an official stance on political issues, and in fact prefers to proclaim political neutrality while encouraging political activism. So when the church does take an explicit stance, it's newsworthy (at least among Mormons).

The Mormon church has stated explicitly that abortion is NOT murder. But it has also stated explicitly that abortion is morally wrong, except in cases of rape, health-risk, incest, etc. -- in these cases, the decision should be made in consultation with church leaders and with much prayer and deliberation.

The rationale for declaring abortion immoral grows out of Mormon theology: Mormons believe in a pre-mortal existence, that we are all the spirit-children of God, and that we come to this earth to receive a body and to learn to choose between good & evil, and to be tested, all in the hopes of returning to live with God again. To abort a fetus is to inhibit that plan -- it denies the entrance of these spirit-children into this mortal life, which entrance is necessary to their eternal progression. To inhibit God's plan and the eternal progression of others is immoral.

Meanwhile, abortion cannot be equated with murder for at least one reason: the Church has taken no stance on when the spirit enters the body, and if the spirit has not yet entered the fetus at the time of the abortion, then the conditions do not exist for a murder to have taken place -- though the inhibition of God's plan has still occurred.

It should be noted that the Mormon stance on abortion is more moderate than the Evangelical (i.e. "Religious Right") stance, which tends to equate abortion with murder and also tends to call for a ban on all abortion -- the Mormon stance requires some legal provision for abortion in those aforementioned cases. (These more-moderate stances are what might cause Mitt Romney some trouble if he runs for president in 08, because they may not be acceptable to the evangelical base of the Republican party.)

Anyway, the point is that there are other ways of construing abortion as immoral without even coming near to the equation of abortion with murder. Just thought you should know.

Posted by: Jason | Dec 15, 2005 10:56:27 AM

By the way, it's just as silly to ask people with religious beliefs to "check them at the door" as it is to ask people with other philosophical or theoretical convictions to "check them at the door." A worldview is a worldview, whether you try to carve distinctions between "politics," "philosophy" and "religion" or not. You cannot divorce yourself from your worldview and check it at the door. How would you talk about anything?

I do agree, though, with the person who noted that debate-ending rhetoric should be checked. Discussion and debate have to continue. All worldviews ("religious" or otherwise) should be welcome at the table, so long as the discussion and debate continues. For those who want to end debate and declare the "final word" on an issue, we can thank them for offering their position, then go on to continue the discussion without them.

I'm perfectly comfortable with "allowing" religiously inflected views and rhetoric -- despite the fact that I'm an avowed leftist (even a self-proclaimed radical on some issues) who believes strongly in a clear separation of church and state. After all, I'm also an orthodox Mormon who cannot separate my "political" worldview from my "religious" one.

Posted by: Jason | Dec 15, 2005 11:17:06 AM

Not to get into substantive debates on these issues; back to Levin's original question:

Is there a principled distinction between the death penalty and abortion such that religion may legitimately be brought to bear on the former but not the latter?

In a word, No. There is no principled distinction between the two issues. The only reason that liberals behave differently in those two instances is their view of religion as purely instrumental. If religion supports your partisan policy, rely on religion all you want. If religion opposes your partisan policy, profess that it is totally off-limits to rely on religion. Religion is either highly praiseworthy or totally illegitimate, depending on whether it serves liberal ends.

Posted by: Niels Jackson | Dec 15, 2005 1:37:34 PM

Niels,
You're far too one-sided in this accusation. Conservatives are just as selective and opportunistic as liberals are in their uses of religion.

Examples? Christ was the "Prince of Peace," yet conservatives tend to be far more hawkish and warmongering than liberals. And they'll rely on religion for arguments against abortion and in favor of the death penalty, but suddenly they forget what New Testament Christianity teaches when it comes to providing for the poor and unfortunate of society. And they'll adopt religion to talk about "family values," but it's been the conservatives who have been historically on the morally wrong side of the debate over racism, sexism, and civil rights.

And my personal favorite example of the conservative misuse of religion: their persistent insistence on ascribing an overtly Christian identity to the Founding Fathers -- usually in arguing for the Christian "origins" or "nature" of America -- when in fact most of the Founding Fathers were Deists and not Christians in any traditional sense of the word.

Neither side of the aisle has a monopoly on opportunism and the (mis)use of religion. You're right: liberals do it. But so do conservatives.

As I believe G.B. Shaw once said, "Christianity might be a good thing, if anyone ever tried it."

And to paraphrase Mark Twain: "There's only been one Christian in the history of the world, and they crucified him -- early."

The Right has no grounds for the self-righteous claim that they are more religious than the Left, or that their religion is somehow more valid or pure or genuine than the Left's. But that doesn't stop them from making the claim anyway -- and that self-righteousness is yet another way in which they belie their claim to a more genuine religiosity.

Posted by: Jason | Dec 15, 2005 3:51:26 PM

[this post is just to put an end to those italics that Niels started]

Posted by: Jason | Dec 15, 2005 3:53:02 PM

Hmmm. Not sure how to get rid of those italics.

But I also wanted to add that there seems to be an overabundance (especially lately) of conservatives who are having ethical problems -- taking bribes, laundering money, mishandling funds, leaking classified information, etc., etc. Is this demonstrative of religious commitments that are superior to those of the liberals?

Posted by: Jason | Dec 15, 2005 4:00:13 PM

Post a comment