Keller's shortsighted religious bigotry – UPDATED

My column at First Things today looks at Bill Keller’s recent piece demanding “tougher questions” be asked about the religious views of presidential candidates — or, at least, of Republican presidential candidates.

It goes without saying, only Republican religious beliefs should be queried in Bill Keller’s world:

Others have ably pointed out that Keller’s own paper conveniently displayed minimal interest in the religious beliefs of the candidate Barack Obama or those of his rather fervid pastor and spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright. Democrats are understood to have tamed their religion into obedient torpor—to governance give the glory!

But his casual bigotry, in and of itself, is not what I’m really thinking about. I’m actually wondering why Keller and his ilk — so determined to bring America into conformity with the secularism of fading European governments — would prefer that our president be unable comprehend a fundamental language of 21st century diplomacy:

Islam, like all faith, is not of this world but of the world to come. Islam’s extremists, like all extremists, would like to speed their agenda along. . . If one side’s ideas are mayhem in service to transcendence and the other side is thinking about meetings and signed papers, then secular Western diplomacy is boxing with one glove.”

Obviously, I was writing specifically about jihad, but I think the argument could be made that the pronounced disdain for religion, which is increasingly hoisted as a standard for Western intellectualism, real or faux, exposes a potential fault-line in understanding, language and mindset that—if not overcome—could eventually set the very earth to trembling.

Last week, in these pages, Rusty Reno asked if the Tea Party had “a religion problem.” Another question might also be asked: shouldn’t voters consider whether decidedly irreligious (or expediently religious) political leaders are deficient in comprehension where it is most crucially needed in the twenty-first century?

I hope you’ll read the whole thing
and add your thoughts!

Ed Morrissey asks: Why is MSM so ignorant about religion? Because they don’t know anyone religious? And, because they don’t know anyone religious, they’re stuck in the 1970’s perceptions, still reacting to religion as “stupid establishment” stuff they transcended with their self-actualization?

Mollie Hemingway: Keller’s pulling everyone’s leg?
Verum Serum: 20 Questions for Bill Keller
Lisa Miller: Don’t fear the Evangelical
Ace: Sauce for the Goose
Karl: Bill Keller’s Magical Thinking

UPDATE: No, I am not accusing Bill Keller of causing the recent earthquake! :-)

UPDATE II: Also related, Mike Bloomberg and the End of Tolerance; Why New York’s mayor says there’s no room for religious leaders on 9/11.

UPDATE III: Michele Bachmann and Dominionism Paranoia

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