Interesting that Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, penned a piece today called “Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith.” Interesting because this follows comments by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput at Catholic World Youth Day in Spain. Maybe his words stung Keller, brought up Catholic, to launch this salvo against religious Republicans.
It’s really a stunning piece, dripping with hate and bile. “This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life – and to get over them,” Keller writes.
Forget that he didn’t feel that way in 2008. The media didn’t want to know too much about Obama’s faith and they certainly didn’t question anything about it, even his hate filled pastor. That got a pass. And why would anyone want to confront scruples? Aren’t they a good thing? Usually we ask for candidates that do have scruples.
Keller goes on to rip Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, both Mormons, in a snooty way, saying “I honestly don’t care if Mitt Romney wears Mormon undergarments beneath his Gap skinny jeans, or if he believes that the stories of ancient American prophets were engraved on gold tablets and buried in upstate New York.” Obviously he does or he wouldn’t mention it. Wait for it – yes, polygamy gets worked in there, too. It was a foundation of their faith, but he goes on to say, “I grew up believing that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ.” Zing to you Rick Santorum. By the way, he calls Catholicism (along with Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann’s faiths) “fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity.”
Somehow Keller manages to drag the Civil War in on this “discussion” of faith. He says Perry and Bachmann and/or their supporters are “Dominionists.” He defines Dominionists as people who believe the pre-Civil War South was “a pretty nice place for slaves…and that only Christians should preside over earthly institutions.”
Keller goes on to wonder about how Bachmann feels about Robert E. Lee, since she recommended a biography of him that Keller says claimed the Civil War was “a clash between a Christian South and a godless North.”
In the meantime Keller manages to drag up John Hagee, the pastor whose endorsement John McCain refused, and slur the Tea Party, a constituency that “comes with strings.”
Keller wants to pose three questions to these candidates: Do they think this is a Judeo-Christian nation; would they appoint a Muslim or atheist to the federal bench; and what is their attitude towards evolution?
It’s not a search for truth; Keller wants to lay a minefield for the candidates.
All interesting since Archbishop Chaput spoke out about the liberal media “bias against traditional Christian belief” and “ferocious public smears and legal threats” against Catholics and other religions just last week.
“We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith…They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach god’s truth,” Chaput said.
He went on to warn about the dangers in attacking religion. “Forcing religious faith out of a nation’s public square and out of a country’s public debates does not serve democracy…What it does do is impose a kind of unofficial state atheism. To put it another way, if we ban Christian Churches or other religious communities from taking an active role in our nation’s civic life, we’re really just enforcing a new kind of state sponsored intolerance – a religion without God.”
Mr. Keller and his ilk do not like faith because they like to play God. They can’t do it if God is in the way.