Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Taking it seriously

Posted By on 07.24.07 at 06:47 AM

Barbara O'Brien at The Mahablog is impatient with Americans' belief in belief (hat tip to Slacktivist):

"The statistics suggest that more people 'believe in' the Ten Commandments than actually know what the Ten Commandments say. And I don't care what religious tradition you call your own; just 'believing in' something that you don't practice or understand or follow is crap. It's not even religion... 

"[Susan] Sontag said that when George Bush said Jesus was his favorite philosopher [in 2000] 'Bush didn't mean, and was not understood to mean, that, if elected, his administration would actually feel bound by any of the precepts or social programs expounded by Jesus.' She's right. We all understood that, even before we knew Bush very well, and isn't that remarkable? These days Jesus is little more than the Right's team mascot." 

Sure, hypocrisy is bad, and it's easy to shoot down. But make sure your argument does what you want it to. There are plenty of right-wing theocrats who know their Bibles as well as Christopher Hitchens does.

Would The Mahablog really feel better if Bush could reel off the Ten Commandments, and if he did believe his administration was bound by them? I doubt it. The real point is this: you and I are free to think that Jesus, or Krishna, or Loki, calls us to make, say, immigration policy more generous, or less generous. But when we go into politics we have to make the case based on values and reasons that everybody can buy into, not just one brand of belief.

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