Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Born Again and Again

Is this a marvelous country, or isn’t it? There were the two biggest mouths on radio, yakking away -- Bill O’Reilly, as if he had not just paid off the colleague who sued him for sexual abuse, and Rush Limbaugh, as if he weren’t facing time for sundry crimes involving drugs. And there was Dick Cheney confirming that nobody from the New York Times could fly on his plane -- not even Tom Friedman, who has backed the war on Iraq as much as he has.

If we have a national religion -- and we do seem to be heading that way -- it may be hypocrisy. The champion winner on "Jeopardy" turns out to have ve had a team of experts feeding him the answers with a gadget like the one Dubya Bush is supposed to have worn. The religion is born-again Christianity -- a literal belief in every word in the Bible, no matter how absurd or contradictory. David Brooks of the Times nominates a pope for it today -- a Southern Baptist named John Stott. Brooks doesn’t really believe in anything,-- he contradicts himeslf in two phrases halfway down the column. What is troubling is how progressives have bought the complaint tbat we’ve been mean to believers. In truth, we’ve been happy to fight alongside movements like Witness for Peace -- and shared jail cells with them. It is a grave mistake to believe that we should imitate the Brookses and pretend we sympathize with churchgoers who hold, like Stott and Dubya, that to abort a pregnancy is an act of murder. That is not the way we’re going to win elections, and not the way we want to win. That is -- hypocrisy -- not our party at all.