Thursday, August 25, 2011
Serious talk about religion and politics (especially Mormon undergarments and those crazy evangelicals)!
Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, wants to dig deeper into the religious faith of the GOP candidates. He explains:
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, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are all affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity, 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.
So does transubstantiation count as "baggage" or just bizarre? And putting aside the fact that Rick Santorum is Catholic, why does evangelical Christianity raise concerns about the separation of fact and fiction? I'm all in favor of more conversation about faith and politics, but let's be careful that the call for conversation isn't just an excuse for tut-tutting about those silly religious people.