Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Jihad this
A card-carrying member of the evangelical Christian right -- who also happens to be a former New York Times reporter, hits back at the emerging editorial consensus from various left of center NYT and WaPo columnists, that the United States has devolved into a jihadist theocracy:
In more than 50 years of direct engagement in and observation of the major news media I have never encountered anything remotely like the fear and loathing
lavished on us by opinion mongers in these world-class newspapers in the past 40 days. If I had a $5 bill for every time the word "frightening" and its close lexicographical kin have appeared in the Times and The Post, with an accusatory finger pointed at the Christian right, I could take my stack to the stock market.

The writer, John McCandlish, makes some good, sobering points, including the fact that once upon a time, the idea of absolute separation between church and state wasn't even a question.
Evangelicals are concerned about the frequently advanced and historically untenable secularists' view of the intent of our non-establishment/free exercise of religion clause: that everything that has its origin in religion must be swept out of federal, and even civil, domains. That view, if militantly enforced, constitutes what seems dangerous to most evangelicals: the strict and entire separation of God from state. This construct, so desired by some, is radically out of sync with much in American history that shows a true regard for the non-establishment of religion while giving space in nearly all contexts to wide and free expressions of faith.

And he correctly points out that some of the more novel innovations on the left surely seem as "radical" to traditionalist Americans as the fundamentalist yearnings on the right:
If any "emboldened minority" is aiming to "remake America according to its dogma," it seems to many evangelicals and Catholics that it is the vanguard wanting, say, the compact of marriage to be stretched in its historic definition to include men cohabiting with men and women with women. That is, in terms of the history of this nation, a most pronounced and revolutionary novelty.

That said, the disturbing noises coming out of the political right, which I believe is bilking the evangelical movement with promises it cannot, and will not deliver (outlawing abortion and end of life choice, forcing creationism into the nation's public school carriculum -- outside of a few red state haunts, quashing the movement toward some form of gay civil recognition, killing stem cell research, etc.) are real and undeniable. There is an almost frenzy of activity on the right, which seems to be racing to implement an agenda they know deep down is out of sync with the majority of Americans, but which must be taken care of before Bush and his friends in Congress completely run out of political gas. If they succeed, America will be a less pleasant place to live (especially if you're a high school science teacher...) But the left is a bit overwrought in assuming that they will (win, that is).
posted by JReid @ 1:35 AM  
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