Nicholas Kristof: Pols Should Stop Exploiting ReligionRoundup: Media's Take
Nicholas Kristof, writing in the NYT (Jan. 7, 2004):
Over the holidays, Vice President Dick Cheney's Christmas card symbolized all that troubles me about the way politicians treat faith — not as a source for spiritual improvement, but as a pedestal to strut upon. Mr. Cheney's card is dominated by a quotation by Benjamin Franklin:"And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
It's hard not to see that as a boast that the U.S. has become the global superpower because God is on our side. And"empire" suggests Iraq: is Mr. Cheney contending that in the dispute over the latest gulf war, God was pulling for the White House and fulminating at Democrats and others in Beelzebub's camp?
Moreover, Mr. Cheney's card wrenches Ben Franklin's quotation from its context and upends the humility that Franklin stood for. If you read the full speeches Franklin gave to the Constitutional Convention, including the one with the sparrow line, you see that Franklin is not bragging that God is behind him but rather the opposite — warning that the framers face so many difficulties they need all the help they can get, including prayer.
Meanwhile, Howard Dean is grasping for faith in a way that is just as tasteless as Mr. Cheney's Christmas card. Dr. Dean bragged to reporters that he knows much about the Bible — and proceeded to say that his favorite New Testament book is Job. Anyone who cites Job as a New Testament book should be scolded not just for religious phoniness but also for appalling ignorance of Western civilization — on a par with Mr. Bush's calling Greeks"Grecians."...
As we move into the religious wars, I wish we could recall how Abe Lincoln achieved moral clarity without moral sanctimony. Though often criticized for not being religious enough, Lincoln managed both of the key kinds of morality — in personal behavior, which conservatives care about, and in seeking social justice, which liberals focus on. To me, each seems incomplete without the other.
comments powered by Disqus
- Snopes debunks slavery Internet meme
- Revamped Chinese History Journal Welcomes Hard-Line Writers
- Poll: 3 Out of 5 Texan Trump Supporters Want Secession if Hillary Clinton Is Elected
- The Psychiatric Question: Is It Fair to Analyze Donald Trump From Afar?
- Minorities still feel Eugene, Oregon’s historical link to the Ku Klux Klan
- Ernst Nolte, Historian Whose Views on Hitler Caused an Uproar, Dies at 93
- Japan should give formal apology for wartime aggression, says historian
- Historian Benjamin Madley says what whites did to Indians in the 19th century in California was genocide.
- Kevin Baker says America needs to bring back political machines
- Covell Meyskens uses his blog to show what life was like under Mao. (Interview)