Friday, January 4, 2008

Iowa and the Poles of Protestantism

Iowa and the Poles of Protestantism (by Diana Butler Bass)

Now that the people of Iowa have chosen Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama as their nominees for president, pundits will spend much of the next few days (until New Hampshire at least) analyzing the results. Many will note religion as an important factor—especially as evangelicals turned out largely for Huckabee.

But evangelicals are not the only religion story from Iowa. Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama represent something much more profound in American politics and religion. With Huckabee as a Southern Baptist and Obama as a member of the United Church of Christ, the two men symbolize the poles of Protestantism, the divided soul of America's majority religion.

Good to see that the left is attempting to break the conservative monopoly on religion. This was one of the notable things about this election from the start: the left is getting religion involved.

Enter no conflict against fanatics unless you can defuse them. Oppose a religion with another religion only if your proofs (miracles) are irrefutable or if you can mesh in a way that the fanatics accept you as god-inspired.
--Missionaria Protectiva, Primary Teaching

I think Obama's got a good shot at defusing the fanatics we're dealing with these days. Edwards has changed his tune drastically in the last few years building up to this election, and I think that the people he's trying to pander to right now are going to realize that's all he's doing. They need more than that from a candidate, and Edwards is so clearly insincere that hopefully his target constituency will realize it. Hillary's the same deal.

Unlike many folk, I'm not really all that worried about Huckabee getting the Iowa top spot. If I were going to pick a candidate who was most clearly insane and unelectable, that's the one I'd choose. I mean, heck. This is why people cross party lines to vote in each other's primaries: to get people like Huckabee the nomination because he'll be easier to tear down later.

This is particularly true if he's facing up against someone like Obama. A real bona fide fringe whacko only has a couple of things working in his favor. One is a clear monopoly on Good Godfearing American Protestantism. If he's up against Obama (who according to this article represents an equally old and powerful strain of American Protestantism), Obama will have this weapon at his disposal as well. That's how you defuse fanatics.

Without being able to invoke the status of "Only Good Christian Candidate," Huckabee will have to fall back on sense. He'll have to prove somehow that what he wants will work better than what Obama wants. The real question at that point becomes "work better for WHAT?"

Well, Huckabee seems to be in the crowd actively working toward the Rapture. What this means for the rest of us is that Huckabee wants to end the world as we know it. Repeat that so that you know you're really absorbing it. End the world. I don't want that to be the goal of my next President. In fact, I'd be happier with anybody who didn't want to end the world. Rapturists are not concerned with making this world a better place. Got it?

So how does Obama answer the question "better for what?" Better for women's quality of life. Better for racial/ethnic minorities' quality of life. Better for religious minorities' quality of life. Check his voting record--I posted it here--and see for yourself. Looks a hell of a lot better than "end the world ASAP," doesn't it?

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