The faithful and the faithless

David Brooks, in his most recent column, says this:

“But now the landscape of religious life has changed. Now its most prominent feature is the supposed war between the faithful and the faithless. Mitt Romney didn’t start this war, but speeches like his both exploit and solidify this divide in people’s minds.”

I think that David Brooks is right that Mitt is playing to the fears of the faithful. That he is saying that he passes their religous test. And the rest of us are like, damnit, and that’s why you’re awful.

But the New York Times, in an editorial, said this:

“CNN, shockingly, required the candidates at the recent Republican debate to answer a videotaped question from a voter holding a Christian edition of the Bible, who said: “How you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you. Do you believe every word of this book? Specifically, this book that I am holding in my hand, do you believe this book?” The nation’s founders knew the answer to that question says nothing about a candidate’s fitness for office.”

See, I think that the editorial board means to say that a candidate’s religious beliefs do not make a candidate fit or unfit for office. That they are irrelevant. I don’t think so, I think that they are relevant. I don’t think that people can put aside their beliefs, because I know that I can’t.

If mitt romney or anyone else REALLY believes genesis hocus-pocus, or pillars of salt, or the rest of the fantastical stuff in the bible, I think that it most certainly WILL have an effect on how they govern.

My guess is, though, that most believers believe in Adam and Eve the way I believe in Frodo and Aragorn.

I can get really passionate and say No Way, Frodo came from Hobbiton, you moron, not Michel Delving! and I really mean it. Even though, strickly speaking, Frodo does not ANYTHING.

So is it really a war between the faithful and the faithless? I certainly feel a measure of antagonism.

And it’s not the sort of thing were I can see both sides. I can’t. That’s why I’m on the side that I am. Because I only see its side. I mean, I get it sociologically – people take comfort in fairy tales – but does it make sense to me that reasonable people would harbor any kind of religious beliefs? not really.

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