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Quite A Lot, Actually

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Kevin Drum asks: “Two Democrats, two committed Christians. So what’s it gotten them?” Well, in the case of Clinton, the answer is that she’s become a popular Senator of a large state and a close runnerup to be candidate for President, but…had a mean blog post written about her by Barbara Ehrenreich. In the case of Obama, he is similarly legislatively situated and will be the favorite to win election as the President of the United States, but there has been some controversy about statements made by the pastor of his church. Seems like a strong net positive to me, especially when you consider that neither of them would be viable presidential candidates if they were atheists.

This brings me back to what’s always puzzled me about what such arguments about religion in the Democratic Party are actually advocating. If the argument is that religious believers should be treated respectfully and that national Democratic politicians should discuss their faith where appropriate, I agree — but since this is already the case I’m not sure what we’re arguing about. If the argument is that religious beliefs and arguments by public figures should be essentially exempt from criticism — including, apparently, from progressive journalists with a distant-to-hostile relationship with the Democratic Party — this is both impossible and undesirable. The answer, it seems to me, is that it’s fine for politicans to bring up their faith and to make religious arguments, but there’s no reason that this should be somehow exempt from scrutiny from the press and the public in a way that secular appeals are not.

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