The June 21 issue of Time devotes a 10-page cover story to the volatile questions of faith and politics. Time supplements other recent stories about the religion gap:
According to a Time poll, those who consider themselves “very religious” support Bush over John Kerry, 59% to 35%, while those who are “not religious” favor Kerry, 69% to 22%. Asked if a President should be guided by his faith while making policy, 63% of Democrats say no while 70% of Republicans say yes. The gap would probably be even wider if it were not for those black voters who tend to be socially conservative, attend church regularly but nonetheless vote for Democrats.
Ron Reagan added fuel to the debate when he said his late father was never guilty of “wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage.” Indeed, the eulogies delivered last Friday by Reagan’s three grown children represented dueling worldviews: Michael Reagan spoke as an evangelical Christian, Patti Davis described death as an inescapable experience for any child of earth and Ron Reagan, like many other of Reagan’s eulogists, described a paradise awaiting everyone.
Time‘s story is even-handed, informative and well-sourced, but it does include one strange paragraph that takes the concept of moral equivalence to a new level of absurdity:
But at some point [Bush] risks becoming trapped in contradiction when he tries to separate the jihadists from the God in whose name they fight. Many Americans who support the war on terrorism do so because they view al-Qaeda and its ilk as an implacable enemy anchored in a radical, though by no means typical, Muslim faith, willing to strap on explosives and blow up a nightclub because of a vision of heaven and earth and right and wrong that we may not understand but can’t just ignore. It is as though Bush can’t allow the possibility that the enemy is motivated by its understanding of God’s will lest his critics note that he believes the same of himself.
Got that? If you believe that one God exists, that he is active in human lives and that it’s a good thing to conform your life to God’s will, you too could become a terrorist!
Still, Time also found Charly Gullett, a gun-shop owner who sounds like a fun contrarian:
“I’m not a believer in God,” he says, “but I recognize that faith is a morally guiding force in most people’s lives. I believe President Bush has brought honor back to the White House because of his faith. I don’t see the religious community being upset with him. I see the nonreligious community being upset with him because they see faith as a threat to liberal thought. There’s nothing about Bush’s faith that makes me uncomfortable.”