Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Anti-Religious Bigotry on Display in the Mainstream Media

Whether or not you are a fan of Mike Huckabee and his candidacy for the presidency, it's helpful to take a sober look at the transparent bigotry on display among some members of the mainstream media reacting to an evangelical who is unashamed of his faith and who has an integrated worldview.

The Washington Post's Richard Cohen doesn't mind if a candidate has religious beliefs, as long as those beliefs are completely irrelevant to the candidate's worldview. Cohen makes some classic, elementary blunders in his article--assuming that believing in intelligent design is "anti science" and believing that a faith commitment precludes argumentation. Because debate is essential to democracy, Cohen suggests that a robust faith is incompatible with the democratic process.

The Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi is more blunt and crude (warning: profanity in article). Here are a few of his descriptions of Huckabee as it relates to his faith:
  • "full-blown nuts"
  • "Christian goofball of the highest order"
  • "obvious and undisguised lunacy"
  • "full-bore nuts"

A couple of helpful articles in light of this kind of thing: First, John Piper's Taking the Swagger Out of Christian Cultural Influence. This is a great article to read and reread--to remember that we are exiles on this earth, who should faithfully serve with "brokenhearted joy," knowing that we will be hated for Christ's sake.

Second, Frank Beckwith's article about the religion of Mitt Romney--who has also been on the receiving end of no little bigotry with regard to the fact that he takes his religious beliefs seriously. Beckwith urges Romney not to commit the "Kennedy Mistake" (precisely what Cohen celebrates), and in so doing offers a concise and helpful explanation for the proper way that faith can be integrated with politics and policy.

Beckwith writes that claiming that one's "theology and church do not influence or shape his politics" would be a mistake:
For it would signal to traditional Christians that Romney does not believe that theology could, in principle, count as knowledge; but this is precisely the view of the secularist who believes that religion, like matters of taste, should remain private. Yet if a citizen has good reason to believe her theological tradition offers real insights into the nature of humanity and the common good—insights that could be defended on grounds that even a secularist cannot easily dismiss—why should she remain mute simply because the secularist stipulates a definition of religion that requires her silence? Why should she accept the secularist’s limitations on her religious liberty based on what appears to many of us as a capricious and politically convenient understanding of “religion”?
Again, the issue is not about what you think of Candidate Huckabee (or Candidate Romney). The important thing is to have your eyes wide open to the way in which religion is perceived and to have an informed response to this sort of thing.