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I remember the "old north church" thing. I don't think it got much opposition but if it did it was precisely because it was presented by the press and the president's friends as a kind of poison pill. No one would have batted an eye if the federal government had stepped in and offered to pay for the church directly as a kind of historical thing. Instead we were specifically told (by we I mean people living in the boston area) that this was a kind of test case--if we would take money for something good we'd let money for something not good be disbursed more easily down the road. So, if there was protest, it was precisely because the government chose this as one of its first test cases for seeing if it could co-opt liberal opposition.aimai

Bill Gardner

'As a college classmate of mine's father once said, after a few martinis, "There hasn't been a good day in this country since Franklin Roosevelt became president." Those are their core beliefs.'

You knew my grandfather! However, he *had* core beliefs -- Martin Peretz (TNR, "Not much left") says we don't. I look forward to your response to Jon Chait.


The article says that democrats are "allergic" to faith.

Not true, but we do try and show some discernment, something totally lacking by the soul selling right.

I guess we should be so open that we sell our nation out to theocrats and fascists as the leadership of the conservative movement did.

Find and outline of what happened to our nation HERE


It is a subtle difference, but liberals have to respond in different ways to opponents who really believe that gay marriage is threatening to their value system, as opposed to those who don't give a shit about it...

I agree that it's a meaningful difference in understanding the opponents, but what difference in response do you suggest, other than cooptation of their goals? I mean, compassion I'm willing to coopt, but fear and selfishness less so. would like to hear how you imagine shading the responses.

Carl Varady

Kuos's analysis is accurate, as far as it goes–the opposition proabably overestimates the practical capabilities of the faith-based faction. It’s clear that the real Republicans–laissez faire monopolists–mostly do not give a shit about faith, except faith in money. They pander to the faith faction for their election contributions and votes. Kuos is wrong, however, on one main point, echoed by Mr. Schmitt, that the battle is over “fairly irrelevant symbolic fights.” Take a look at any United States agency web site and you will see a category on the main search page for “Faith Based Initiatives” or similar reference. These references are intended to demonstrate the integration of religious belief into the federal government’s programs and policies. With such integration we lose two important values: (1) a reality based system of government that evaluates policy on the basis of substantive product, not mere belief; and (2) a system that, for about 150 years, has not been controlled overtly by sectarian dogma. The latter point is qualified by the obvious role sectarian dogma underlies policy yesterday and today. When it becomes acceptable, however, to openly make policy based on sectarian dogma, without regard to reality based standards, we have slipped a very significant step away from a standards based system of policy and decision making and back toward a medieval system based on religious fantasy conjoined to brute military and economic forces. My point? It is important to resist this slouching toward Bethlehem in our policy formation and implementation. Symbolic fights are not irrelevant, at all; they are critically important to avoid the creep of the rough beast of religious dogma into a system where it marginalizes a significant minority of us, an directly impedes evolution of egalitarian principles that ought to inhere in our democracy, if it is to have life.


Decembrist: Does this mean that (sometimes) we should embrace this notion of compassionate conservatism, presuming somewhere someone has the good faith to carry it through? Or is it just (at other times), a ideological catch phrase? To me, the phrase is not only contradictory, but is, when translated into practical political effort, impossible without the kind of manipulation to which you refer.

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