Justin Webb, BBC’s Washington correspondent, posted an article on the “From Our Own Correspondent” series today, titled “Dinosaurs, evangelicals, and the state.” It gives some insight into how the Brits and perhaps other Europeans view the United States today….
As the nation recovers this weekend from the worldly pleasures of the wonderfully inclusive festival of Thanksgiving, a festival which can appeal equally to atheist and Bible-thumper, it seems to me that the central political question facing everyone here, far more important than any to do with Iraq or the deficit or Guantanamo Bay, is whether or not the Republican party, after decades of flirting, has finally got into bed with an irrational sect.
Describe an American as a Roman Catholic and you say nothing about his or her political and social beliefs. Left-wing flower-power Democrats can be Catholics, so can right-wing socially conservative Republicans. American Jews, Hindus, even Muslims are not politically defined by their faith.
But evangelical Christians, operating inside the Republican party, have coalesced their energies and their resources around a set of beliefs on homosexuality, abortion and Darwinism which place them on the authoritarian right of every political question and at odds with science campaigning. For instance, to tell visitors to the Grand Canyon that this wondrous sight is not millions of years old, which it is.
When Webb writes, “American Jews, Hindus, even Muslims are not politically defined by their faith,” it gets at something central that I believe many Unitarian Universalists have missed. We already know that we Unitarian Universalists are not defined politically by our faith. But sometimes when we try to stand up to the religious right, we do so by adopting politically liberal stands. But we do not need to get into bed with any political party. When we make political stands we should be standing up to the religious right, not from any partisan position, but as good Americans who want to keep religious rigidity out of our government.