Man Without Qualities

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Old Time Religion

Teresa Heinz Kerry is not the only prominent Democrat who has been emitting richly aromatic condemnations of religious views held by millions of her fellow Americans. According to David Remnick's article in the New Yorker Al Gore has also recently cut loose some real stinkeroos in church:

Gore's mouth tightened. A Southern Baptist, he, too, had declared himself born again, but he clearly had disdain for Bush's public kind of faith. "It's a particular kind of religiosity," he said. "It's the American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia, in Kashmir, in religions around the world: Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. They all have certain features in common. In a world of disconcerting change, when large and complex forces threaten familiar and comfortable guideposts, the natural impulse is to grab hold of the tree trunk that seems to have the deepest roots and hold on for dear life and never question the possibility that it's not going to be the source of your salvation. And the deepest roots are in philosophical and religious traditions that go way back. You don't hear very much from them about the Sermon on the Mount, you don't hear very much about the teachings of Jesus on giving to the poor, or the beatitudes. It's the vengeance, the brimstone."
I don't know what Mr. Gore is fussing about. He says he is a Baptist and President Bush is a Methodist. Norman Maclean famously wrote in A River Runs Through It:

"Methodists are Baptists who can read."

Personally, I think Mr. Gore and Mrs. Heinz-Kerry should just stay as far away from criticisms of other Americans' religions as possible. That was the approach of the Founders, including Thomas Jefferson - surely the most famous Democrat who never was a Democrat. These more modern Democrats should try singing:

If it was good enough for the Founders, then it's good enough for me!

[Thanks to James Taranto for the original link.]

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