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JOHN CHUCKMAN
 
POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY CLIVE CROOK IN THE FINANCIAL TIMES

Well, Clive Crook, again you miss the mark, but you’ve said one definitely true thing:

“Obviously I am moving in the wrong circles, but the metropolitan liberal, in my experience, regards overt religious identity as vulgar, and evangelical Christianity as an infallible marker of mental retardation. Flag-waving patriotism is seen as a joke and an embarrassment.”

These things you regard as contemptuous views are simply truths.

But ask yourself, why is it necessary to say anything about religious beliefs in an election?

The answer is simple: because the Religious Right insists, over and over, on pushing these things before us.

Just like insisting that the brainless notion of creationism be taught in public schools. Or the old notion that the Ten Commandments should be on the walls of courthouses. Or the stuff about prayer in public schools.

There are lots of evangelical Christians in the U.S. who do not share with the fundamentalists their demands this way. There are very thoughtful ones, but we do not hear from them.

We hear from the folks who tell us homosexuals cause hurricanes. The people who say a bloody war is God’s will. The folks who just do not seem to understand that America is a pluralistic society – founded by worldly men to have freedom from religion – and that religion belongs in their tax-exempted churches, not in national politics.

The same goes for rah-rah, mindless patriotism which really is just another religion, a secular one, the American Civic Religion. Why in God’s name should a flag pin on a lapel matter? That is definitely not a good emphasis.

The American establishment likes to keep this rah-rah stuff ginned up because it makes it so easy to start new wars. It is also a form of emotional compensation for the unhappiness and anger so common on America’s streets. Having lived half my life in America, I know this is a fact.

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