The National Catholic Review

Bill Keller, the outgoing editor of the New York Times, pens a column in the NYT magazine this week seeking answers to questions about the religious beliefs of GOP presidential candidates, and how those beliefs might impact their governance. He snidely suggests that if a candidate claimed belief in aliens, voters would want to know how those aliens impacted their views, and then suggests that religious beliefs deserve similar scrutiny. He writes:

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. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a “cult” and that many others think is just weird. (Huntsman says he is not “overly religious.”) Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity — and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism — which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.

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, or that Mormonism’s founding prophet practiced polygamy (which was disavowed by the church in 1890). Every faith has its baggage, and every faith holds beliefs that will seem bizarre to outsiders. I grew up believing that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ.

But I do want to know if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as "the reality-based community." I do care if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.

Putting aside his snarky tone, do Keller's question have merit? While a religious test is both unsavory and unconstitutional, should religious beliefs be more formally and closely examined in political campaigns? Do the extreme beliefs of several GOP candidates in this cycle call for closer questioning? 

Michael J. O'Loughlin

Comments

Anonymous | 8/29/2011 - 2:55pm
Beth,

Sorry,  Townhall is a conservative site and I found the article through a series of articles discussing attacks on Perry and how the strategy is evolving.  Religion and evolution are part of the strategy but not all and it will be interesting to watch this play out as people know exactly what each author is trying to do including those here.  We will see how the smears on the various candidates evolve.


Speaking of evolving.  Apparently Perry misspoke.  They do not teach creationism in Texas and the guy he appointed in charge of schools is a Darwinist and has not impemented anything close to a discussion of Darwinism's limitations.  They are allowed to discuss the limitations of any theory in Texas schools but apparently in this case not much is happening.  This link is from an Intelligent design web site and the author I believe is a Catholic, but not 100% sure, and he is not a new earth creationist which are the bad creationists.  Catholics are creationists and are ok with the secularists as long as they believe God had nothing to do with the origin of life or its changes over the ages.


http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/08/governor_perry_thinks_texas_sc049711.html 
Beth Cioffoletti | 8/29/2011 - 1:21pm
JR - I looked at that site and got immediately turned off with the language, referring to Obama as a "hand-picked socialist messiah" and a pop up for Cheney's book.  If you're going to refer me to sites, at least try for some that are less obviously biased.
Anonymous | 8/29/2011 - 11:05am
Last week I listened to Bill McGurn on the John Batchelor show.  He had written a column a couple days previously in the Wall Street Journal on religious tolerance and the discussion on the show discussed the false fear of religious imposed restrictions on our society.  The reality is that it is just the opposite.  It is restrictions on religions that is the real issue.  I wonder how much of the concern for politician's religious beliefs or associations has nothing to do with religion or fear of what might come from these beliefs but solely a way of taking hits at various politician one does not like.  That is my assessment of the intentions of the authors here.   Here is a link for the article
 
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903480904576510510748329454.html


 
Beth Cioffoletti | 8/29/2011 - 9:11am
I liked Douthat's op-ed piece in the NYT this morning.

Richard Rohr's daily meditation today also has a relevant perspective:

"Unfortunately, in the West, prayer had become something functional; something you did to achieve a desired effect—which too often puts the ego back in charge. As soon as you make prayer a way to get what you want, you’re not moving into any kind of new state of consciousness. It's the same old consciousness, but now well disguised: "How can I get God to do what I want God to do?" It's the egocentric self deciding what it needs, but now, instead of just manipulating everybody else, it tries to manipulate God.

"This is one reason religion is so dangerous and often so delusional. If religion does not transform people at the level of both mind and heart, it ends up giving self-centered people a very pious and untouchable way to be on top and in control. Now God becomes their defense system for their small self! Even Jesus found this to be true of the scribes, Pharisees, and teachers of the law." - Fr. Richard Rohr OFM
Anonymous | 8/28/2011 - 4:51pm
I apologize.

On my previous post the first sentence should read

''I only made the comment because someone here brought up the idea of vetting.  ''Im sure the vetting of Perry will reveal more and more and I know you guys will stop objecting to the vetting because it will happen without your approval anyway. ''
Anonymous | 8/28/2011 - 4:46pm
I only made the comment because someone here brought up the idea of vetting.  ''that politicians of all parties, in every city, in every office,  have sleaze balls in that city donating money and  sidling up to them to get influence.''


I replied that ''So to say that Perry will be vetted is probably true but it is not true if one is a Democrat.''  and Beth asked me for the basis of my comment about Obama not being vetted and I replied directly to her.


''that politicians of all parties, in every city, in every office,  have sleaze balls in that city donating money and  sidling up to them to get influence.''


It seemed the other way around in Chicago as Obama funneled money to these slum lords or asked them for advice.  But I am glad that we do not have to look forward to any posts by authors or commenters here about Perry and his contributors since such a post is out of bounds here.
ed gleason | 8/28/2011 - 3:18pm
JR here is your problem as I see it. First the thread is about religious views.   Also  Everyone who reads this America blog knows that politicians of all parties, in every city, in every office,  have sleaze balls in that city donating money and  sidling up to them to get influence. The questions America blog readers will ask,  was there criminal action involved. So you will not convince anyone on this blog unless you can show criminal action. Association with Rev.Wright, Rezco, Gov Blago, Ayers Daly  etc etc etc is a big waste of time on this blog. Go with your stuff to FOX news.. hurry though, Murdock et al might be indicted.  
Stephen SCHEWE | 8/28/2011 - 3:12pm
In my opinion, the religious beliefs of Presidential candidates are relevant when those beliefs form the basis of potential public policy.  The more seriously they take their faith, the more questions are appropriate.  Traditionally, for example, there's been a difference between the aspirational parts of faith vs. the evolution of the lower standard of civil law which everyone must obey.  There are roots in common law endorsing "thou shalt not kill," for example, but not for regulations enforcing the Sermon on the Mount.  Voters can legitimately ask how a candidate will balance the aspirations of his or her faith with the U.S. Constitution, the claims of science, or even with common sense.

There are also fundamentalist readings of scriptures, Christian or otherwise, that might affect policy.  If a candidate's religion subscribes, for example, to a faith that predicts and welcomes return of the Jews to Israel followed by an apocalyptic war in the Middle East as signs of the impending Rapture, I'm interested in the candidate's views on that interpretation and how it might affect their foreign policy before I vote for them, particularly if they've made other statements suggesting a fundamentalist outlook.     

As others have illustrated, the cat escaped from this particular bag long ago.  Freedom of religion of the potential Republican nominees may be protected, but their beliefs will not be exempted from political debate, particularly when they face voters in the general election.
Anonymous | 8/28/2011 - 2:10pm
Beth,


I left out a link in my previous post about Obama dodging questions on his link to Rezko.  Here it is


http://jobs.suntimes.com/news/marin/356207,CST-EDT-carol25.article#


It was supposed to go before the paragraph beginning ''From this article''
Anonymous | 8/28/2011 - 2:02pm
Beth,
How Obama won is first election is an example of something that is definitely not discussed by the media.  He brought in some high powered lawyers and had them disqualify at the last minute all his competition so he ran unopposed.  Here is a story about it.  I have not found anyone who voted for Obama who knew about it
 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/obama/chi-0704030881apr04-archive,0,1523598,full.story
 
Obama ran on an image of getting people the right to vote but is first act was to eliminate choices for that vote.  Just one instance of his hypocrisy.
 
Obama's supporters in Chicago were slum lords.  Obama sponsored bills for housing and his buddies would get the money and build sub standard housing in Chicago and in his district.  One of these slum lords is Valerie Jarret who is said to be his closest adviser in the White House.  The others are Tony Rezko who is now in jail and owns the property next to Obama's house in Chicago and got him a sweet heart deal on his property even ceding part of his property to Obama for a price that looked like a payback.  The third is Alison Palmer, head of Obama's law firm after he got his law degree from Harvard.  Palmer is also a major builder of sub standard housing in the Chicago area.  Here is a link that discusses it
 
http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/06/27/grim_proving_ground_for_obamas_housing_policy/?page=full
 
Here is Obama suddenly tongue tied when asked about Rezko.  Rezko had built 11 projects in Obama's district and Obama supposedly did not know anything about the dilapidated housing his buddy was building, some using money Obama had gotten for him.
 
From this article, ''Jarrett, Davis, and Rezko all served on Obama's campaign finance committee when he won a seat in the US Senate in 2004.''  Primarily the most damaging is that Jarrett is in the White House and would have probably gained immensely if Chicago got the Olympics.  Here is something from the Huffingtonpost
 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/gino618/michelle-obama-on-chicago_n_291135_31251937.html
 
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-jarrett-olympics-12-may12,0,3847349.story
 
There is lots more but I am tired of searching the internet for the references.  When I asked more than once if anyone could say one positive thing that Obama did, there was radio silence except each time one commenters brought up the false thing about legislation on video taping interrogations and that was taken from another black lawmaker to make Obama look good.  I have found no one who ever heard of any of these things and voted for him.  He presents a very good appearance, is a good speaker, has a nice family but is basically a bad guy and while these articles are in the press, no one repeated them again and again if it were a Republican so that all the country would know.
Beth Cioffoletti | 8/28/2011 - 10:55am
JR, just wondering what you found out about Obama that the press didn't (or did, but didn't tell).

PS. I agree with you that everything is always changing, including our theories of evolution.
Anonymous | 8/28/2011 - 5:12am
''looks like you guys and GOP Iowa are all geared up to vote Perry''


There is a habit of some people to assume things that they know nothing about especially how I will vote or about evolution.  I am the last to defend creation science but it does not preclude modern genetics and that is what micro evolution or Darwin's ideas are about.  Some people with no evidence including Darwin took his ideas and extended to all of life since the beginning of the planet a few billion years ago and nothing in science supports that.  So if one supports Darwin's ideas for all of evolution then they are the ones who are anti science.  There is a difference between things appearing at various times over the course of history and saying that they appeared because of theory of the modern evolutionary synthesis (which changes every few years).  


So Perry is the right one in that he says there are gaps.  There are millions of them.  So let's see how this plays out and see if you or others can take glee in what he says because I am sure he will be asked it again.  And if he says that God had a hand in it, then that is not against Catholic theology.


And by the way, Obama was never vetted for the public.  He would never have gotten elected if he had been.  I discussed some of his history with people who voted for him in 2008 and they never heard about what I told them and said they might not have voted for him if they had known it.  Some said I was lying and got very upset with me for trying to spread the lies but I said it is all there to be found if one looks.  The press certainly suppressed it.  So to say that Perry will be vetted is probably true but it is not true if one is a Democrat.
ed gleason | 8/28/2011 - 1:02am
OK.. Tom and JR .. looks like you guys and GOP Iowa are all geared up to vote Perry.. I say great. Of course I go Obama.. he is known quantity in religious/economic/foreign policy/environmental/ working class/tax/health/ss/medicare etc. policy  views. I'm sure the vetting of Perry will reveal more and more and I know you guys will stop objecting to the vetting because it will happen without your approval anyway.  
Tom Maher | 8/28/2011 - 12:02am
Ed Gleason (# 24) 

Because Perry is an Evangelical one should not assume that he personally holds a certain beliefs as if all the millions of Evangelicals have exactly the same set of beleifs. .  Like Catholics but even more so Evangelicals have wide variations in their personal religious beliefs inclduing on subjects such as science and evolution.  You can not assume the details of anyone's religious beliefs.  The women in New Hampshire this week had her son ask Governor Perry if he believes in science or if he believes the world is 6,000 years old is based on very rigid, century old, religious stereotypes of all  Evangelicals.  But these ignorant and bised astereotypes are promoted in the culture and schools and colleges in the northeast and elsewhere in the country.

Ironically this issue of America magazines contains a very intresting religion and science  article titled "Adam and Eve: Real  People?" that reports on a world-class debate among Evangelicals scholars and scientists on rthe implication of recent scientific findings that seem to refute the idea of a human orgin from a single set of parents such as Adam and Eve.  Evangelicals are shown to be extremely sophisticated, intelligent and variedon  all sides of the their debate.  This is not the old religious stereotyped of Evangelics that people are taught to be suspicious of and distrust. Religious intolerance against Evagelicals is mistaken and wrong.
Anonymous | 8/27/2011 - 10:26pm
''What about Perry's 6000 year old earth?''


When did he say that?   I have searched using google and all I have found is liberal bloggers saying that is what he believes.  He told the kid in New Hampshire that it is pretty old and he did not know exactly.  Is there a specific reference available?


Nearly everyone is America does not understand the evolution debate and certainly not any of the liberal bloggers or the press.

ed gleason | 8/27/2011 - 4:45pm
Tom ... yeah .. thanks for your explanation of the difference? What about Perry's 6000 year old earth?  That should be private as it's silly/indefensible.. what were Obama's 'extreme' religious statements by the way? ...fuggetaboutit   Obama won in a walkoff. next?...
ed gleason | 8/26/2011 - 4:55pm
Al Smith the most prominent Catholic layman, running for president in 1928 had an OpEd read aloud by a worker at the campaign headquarters,   an OpEd column by a Protestant minister  . The column said Smith would be obliged to follow Papal encyclicals rather than the constitution. Smith said 'what the hell is an encyclical?.. Nobody in the Irish mafia, present, knew either. They called Fr Duffy a great  WWI hero at Dunwoodie to get the proper take.
Say hello to political rants about religion and if you are too easly offended  go on a 18 month silent retreat.
JIM MCCREA | 8/26/2011 - 4:39pm
When did the comments section of America become a spillover from The Wanderer or the NC Register?
Beth Cioffoletti | 8/26/2011 - 3:06pm
I agree, Jeff (#13), that the Kellor's tone is dumb and offensive, but I think that Michael O'Laughlin's question is valid.  The religious beliefs of a presidential candidate should be examined.  I remember quite a bit of discussion about Obama's relationship with Jeremiah Wright. 

I read his book, "Dreams of My Father", just to see how closely Obama's own spiritual development was connected with that of Wright's, and what it was all about.  I came away with the sense that Obama had a need for formal worship and a religious identity within the Black community.  He also had a great respect and affinity for the Christian mystics as well as the Catholic commitment to social justice.  I found some (but not all) parallels with my own faith journey and came to the conclusion that his spiritual makeup was valid and not something made up or put on just for the political advantage.

Since religion is such a hot button issue now, it seems that some kind of spiritual explanation/examination is going to be necessary for all candidates (left and right), otherwise the rumors and hype are just going to spread.
Anonymous | 8/26/2011 - 2:44pm
"(What I don't understand is conservative defensiveness.  Why wouldn't they want someone looking at their candidate's religous faith?)"

Beth -

I have no problem with examining a candidate's faith (or deeply held philosophical positions for that matter); indeed I think that an overtly religious candidate would welcome an opportunity to explain his or her faith. 

What I don't like, and perhaps where the defensiveness arises, is in the nature and tone of the questions asked.  The column is not only "snarky" in its dismissive tone, it got (at least before its correction) basic well-known facts flat out wrong (i.e. Santorum is a Catholic), and the nature of the questions is along the lines of "When did you stop beating your wife?"  They are not intended to elucidate but raise alarms for readers.  Not to mention some of us notice a slight double standard when it comes to these type of questions; as I write above, Obama's relationship with Jeremiah Wright was off-limits when he ran; now for GOPers it's all fair game.
John Barbieri | 8/26/2011 - 1:15pm
Once again, politicians - and the rest of us - are defined by behavior. If someone is coherent, sensible, and fair minded, that's who he is. His interior beliefs are none of our business.
Bill Keller's snarky column reflects on him and no one else. 
Helena Loflin | 8/26/2011 - 10:56am
Once Perry's New Apostolic Reformation dominionism movement assumes control over government, religion, media, etc., none of us will be (openly) discussing political candidates' religious beliefs any more.
ROBERT NUNZ MR | 8/26/2011 - 10:42am
Three comments all from conservatives attacking liberals.
Wonderful.
So do we get creationism or do we relly want to impose the views of evangelicals on all?
I guess it depends on ideology (for some.)
Anonymous | 8/26/2011 - 10:42am
"Do the extreme beliefs of several GOP candidates in this cycle call for closer questioning? "

It's amazing how much things change.  Four years ago, when people started askign questions about the teachings of a Church a prseidential candidate had attended, these questions were met with denunciations of racism and other savory accusations.  Of course, conveniently, that presidential candidate quickly disavowed the Church he had attended for many years.  The preacher of that Church, meanwhile, went on to give national interviews on PBS, among other outlets.

Now a Republican candidate's religion is fair game!  MUST be examined, prodded, questioned...in fact he should disavow his belief in such things as...the Real Presence! Dangerous ideas that!
Tom Maher | 8/27/2011 - 4:00pm
All of Wright asoundinly extreme statements were already publically avaialable from the church had them professionally video recorded every Sunday.  When Obama became a candidate Wright's extreme statements akways attacking the United States became known immeadiately.  It was known that Obama was very close to Wrigh and a member of Wright church for twenty years.  Wright's views were political.  And he actually  called for the damnation of the United States.  It had to be asked of Obama whether he agreed with Wright or shared his political views and  how was it possible to associate in any way with a person with such radical politcal views.  Weight did resign form the church toward the end of the campaign. 

Keller on the other hand wants to probe for religious beliefs that have not been made public and therefore should remain private. ??????????????
ed gleason | 8/27/2011 - 2:25pm
Tom,
"Americans should stay far away from religious intolerance which is an extreme danger to peace   Do not be part of the growth of religious intolerance that can only divide and destabilize the nation."
I'm amused that the call for tolerance is now made after the 'right' went ballistic over Rev Wright and now the 'right' is now stuck with a flock of religiously challanged candidates. To bad the plea will fall on deaf ears but please have no fear of destabilizing the nation with the religious tests.   

??
Tom Maher | 8/27/2011 - 1:39pm
Juan Lino (#11)

Your excellent example reminds us that religious intorenance in America  has alarmingly long been acceptale and manistream in the print media.  In the 1870s Thomas Nash extensively published in the New York Hearld  editorial cartoons some of which viciously attack American Catholics.  Yet Nash's editorial cartoons are uncritically considered icons of American journalism.  Nash's cartoons viciously depicting Catholics as being subversive to America  have long been widely displayed and featured in history, public affairs  and journalism books, magazines and writings including widely circulated school textbooks and museums.

While Nash's cartoons depictions are protected by Constitutional freedom of the press, religious intolerance of Catholics was being promoted by Nash's cartoons.  I am told that as late as the 1950s Boston Globe help  wanted classified advertising  frequenctly contained the explicit notice "No Catholics need apply."    The historic record from Al Smith to John F. Kennedy shows a hugh distrust and irrational hostility toward Catholics running for public office.    

It is immoral and politically insane for Catholics to have anything to do with any form of religious intolerance of any other religious group  having been ourselves harmed by religious intolerance.  Catholics should not make themselves obnoxious by monitoring anyone's religion for any reason let alone to find "extreme beliefs" whatever that means.  Short of human sacrifice, Catholics and all other reigious groups should mind their own business and tolerate other people's religious beliefs and practices.  It is unacceptably prejudicail and unfair to ask any candidates about their religion.  

The religious group that Keller is likely to want to probe here are Evangelicals who nationwise are about 40% of the population though not well represented in some parts of the country such as the northeast while they are very numerous elsewhere.    Why start needless religious agitation out of ignorance?   These fellow citizens should be left alone to their own religious choices and ways and should be respected and tolerated.

Americans should s?tay far away from religious intolerance which is an extreme danger to peace ?w?e?l?l?b?e?i?n?g? ?o?f? ???t?h?e? ?n?a?t?i?????????on?.??????????????????????????  Do not be part of the growth of religious intolerance that can only divide and des?????tabilize the ?n?a?t?i?o?n?.? ????????
Thomas McCullough | 8/27/2011 - 11:50am
David Cruz-Uribe: Hear, Hear!
David Cruz-Uribe | 8/26/2011 - 9:50pm
Very interesting article, but the comments remind me of why I don't stop here as much as I used to.
Anonymous | 8/26/2011 - 6:58pm
"When did the comments section of America become a spillover from The Wanderer or the NC Register?"

In other words, "How dare these people who disagree with me express their opinion!?  The outrage!  The horror!"

I'm tempted to ask when the comboxes at America became a spillover from The New York Times.

Diversity of thought for thee, not for me!
Winifred Holloway | 8/26/2011 - 2:34pm
The only real concern here is whether the candidate wanted the nation's laws and public policy to adhere to the teachings of his/her church.  There is no other reason that a candidate's religion should be scrutinized.  As for Bill Keller, he must have been snoozing during religion class.  He is woefully ignorant of a basic understanding of the Eucharist.  He sounds so much like the current crop of air-head pop atheists, squeezing faith and religion into the vise of literal interpretation.
Juan Lino | 8/26/2011 - 1:17pm
This is nothing other than, in my opinion, a written version of the Thomas Nast cartoons of the 1870s the only difference being that instead of limiting the bigotry to just “Catholics” it has been expanded to be more “inclusive.” 
 
Beth Cioffoletti | 8/26/2011 - 12:47pm
Just off the top of my head, John (#7), recently Rick Perry held a so-called "Prayer Service".  I think it was to pray for rain, or maybe it was the debt.  I couldn't watch the whole thing, but the impression I got was that this prayer was in a particular format that would appeal to a certain kind of Christian.  I found the display exceedingly uncomfortable and I don't think a Jew or a Muslim would find the experience comfortable. 

As the governor of the state of Texas, I assume this style will be carried over to the national level.

When has President Obama ever done this sort of thing? 

What is this of yours statement supposed to mean?

"Or is it that we all know that liberals religious affiliations are for show only and thus don't really matter where it counts (in which case they're hypocrites), whereas we all know conservatives' do generally actually believe what their respective faiths hold as true?"

Are you stating that unless someone "preaches" his specific faith on a public podium to people of many different faiths (or no faith) s/he is a hippocrate??

Are you saying that someone who does not go around wearing their religion on their sleeve cannot have thier ethical and moral character informed by that religion?

I could ask you to give reference to where Joe Biden has said that his faith does not inform his decisions on life issues but does on immigration issues, but the same question could be put to those politicians (like Jeb Bush) who feel bound by law to send people to their deaths by execution even though their religion forbids it.  The street goes both ways. 

The fact of the matter is that religious beliefs will always go against certain laws in our country, whether you are a conservative or a liberal, and every politician is going to come up against this.   There is no right or wrong answer on this issue, no winner of the debate.

But I think that we have a right to discuss the religious beliefs of anyone who is aspiring to be President of the country, Republican or Democrat. 

(What I don't understand is conservative defensiveness.  Why wouldn't they want someone looking at their candidate's religous faith?)
Tom Maher | 8/26/2011 - 11:58am
Religious intoreance is a very powerful political weapon.  Bill Keller a former Editor of the New York Times is using religious intolerance to target the GOP along religious lines.  Let's not pretend that this is some high-minded quest to improve governance in the United States.  The test of religious beliefs is a self-serving and biased,  directed only at the GOP as  a club to destroy GOP candidates by appeal to religious intolerance.

In a nation that is beset with  job killing economic problems attempting to change the public conversation to religion instead of the dreary economic news is worth a try.   Maybe the private religous beliefs of GOP candidates can be discovered and exposed for the danger to civilization theyh they.  This is an attempt to exploit religious intolerance for  politcal gain.

New York Times editors love to wield politcal power by using the power of the press in promoting their own private partisan views.  Some of these views are highly intolerant of other's views.  Keller does not even pretend to be objective and politically nuetral.

Anonymous | 8/26/2011 - 9:19am
The underlying assumption of most liberals is that they are personally both morally and intellectually superior to conservatives simply BECAUSE they hold certain ideological points of view. So Gore, Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden and Obama are automatically assumed to be both morally superior and intellectually superior to any GOP candidate.

The religious questions are designed to put GOP candidates on the spot and show them 'stoopid' as well as "mean spirited".

But occasionally someone actually asks a Democrat a religious question. In 2008 at the evangelical church forum Obama was asked "when, in your opinion, does human life begin?" Granted, it is actually a question about basic biology, but the context was a discussion on "life issues" like abortion.

Obama - obstensibly super smart - could either have said "at the moment of birth" and thus been consistent with his political positions in favor of partial birth abortion not being infanticide because a fetus doesn't magically become human until fully out of the birth canal.... or he could have gone with high school biology and said "at the moment of conception - which is why IVF works in the first place. But then he'd have undermined the moral argument for abortion being anything but homicide.

So he said "the answer was above his pay grade". I.e. he evaded the question.

Super smart guy, best diplomat, most persuasive negotiator in history, the One we've all been waiting for.... couldn't either convince the audience of the dogma held by the left or even defend it....so he evaded. He voted "present".

And America, commonweal, NCreporter et. al. loved the guy as super duper smart and moral and wonderful.
Anonymous | 8/26/2011 - 8:28am
Maybe we should look at the anti religious implications of following what the secular liberals are imposing on our society rather than the religious beliefs of Republican candidates and their imagined effect on society.  One is very real and has been happening in the last 30 years, while the other is only evident in the political rhetoric of those trying to scare others about the horrors of someone's religious beliefs or the planned theocracy.


Guess where America Magazine falls on this divide.