Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Racial and Religious Differences

Since I wrote the post below, I have been reading the reactions of other bloggers and checking out the comments posted at The New York Times website.

Some have objected to Luttwak's ugly and misinformed presentation of Islamic belief and practice. Others have joined me in criticizing the editors at the Times for publishing such malodorous character assassination.

And there have been some that protested on grounds of religious freedom, arguing that whether Obama is a Christian, a Muslim or otherwise should be on no importance in American politics - that a nation aspiring to be post-racial ought also to put aside differences of religious belief.

Who cares, they ask, what religion a candidate adheres to?

For 25 years, I have watched Americans make religion the center of political discourse. In the past 8 years, we have seen how corrosive and divisive religion can be when a ruling political party chooses to leverage its association with one religious group. In this campaign, we have all seen a Mormon candidate strain to minimize the differences between his beliefs and those of that same politically-powerful religious group. We have seen a Christian candidate attacked because of his association with an offensive pastor.

This is what we have made of America by insisting that religious belief (so-called "values") are relevant and important to weighing the merits of candidates for office. If we do not like the result, perhaps we should consider embracing the wisdom of a tradition of neighborly self-restraint, open-minded tolerance, and careful church-state separation that used to be practiced by both parties prior to the Reagan Revolution.

posted at 11:59:00 AM by Neil

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