Friday, December 7, 2007

Brooks on Romney

I can't stand David Brooks 99% of the time. But his column today on Romney's big "Sure I'm Morman, but I hate me some atheists" speech yesterday is quite good. Especially this:

The first casualty is the national community. Romney described a community yesterday. Observant Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews and Muslims are inside that community. The nonobservant are not. There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious. I’m assuming that Romney left that out in order to generate howls of outrage in the liberal press.

The second casualty of the faith war is theology itself. In rallying the armies of faith against their supposed enemies, Romney waved away any theological distinctions among them with the brush of his hand. In this calculus, the faithful become a tribe, marked by ethnic pride, a shared sense of victimization and all the other markers of identity politics.

In Romney’s account, faith ends up as wishy-washy as the most New Age-y secularism. In arguing that the faithful are brothers in a common struggle, Romney insisted that all religions share an equal devotion to all good things. Really? Then why not choose the one with the prettiest buildings?

It easy to pile on the nonreligious. Though those that profess no religious affiliation are the fastest growing demographic in the US and constitutes the largest group (used loosely) if you break down religious affiliation by denomination, the Washington-based Pew Research Center found in a survey in August that 61% of Americans would have reservations voting for an atheist for president. Compare that to 45% for a Muslim president. With all of the (wrong-headed) demonization of Islam the last 6 years, atheists are still despised more.

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