By Jon Winsor The New York Times Chief Editor's piece that proposed asking candidates about their religious beliefs made quite a splash. On Bloggingheads last week, two reporters did a diavlog discussing how religion should be handled in on the campaign trail. On the right is The American Conservative's Michael Dougherty, a Ron Paul supporter who is also sympathetic to Jon Huntsman. On the left is Sarah Posner, a religion beat reporter who has written exposés on Dominionism for Slate. One exchange, I think, captured the tensions over Keller's op-ed:
I think Posner is right to focus on candidates' systems of belief, and how open they are on empirical policy questions, such as evolution and climate change--as well as civil liberties questions, such as separation of church and state. If I understand Dougherty, he objects to the media deliberately hyping the religiously exotic and threatening, which for him is analogous to the way Glenn Beck makes crazy statements about art and architecture in downtown New York, or the way Fox News continually hammered Obama for the same two or three outrageous statements made by Reverend Wright.
But Posner has a further point that speaks to some of Dougherty's objections. Yes, we shouldn't get fixated on the exoticism of some religious movements, but if reporting on them was done adequately inoff years, maybe they wouldn't seem so exotic now, and we would have context to understand them when election time rolls around:
One thing that's surprised me in this whole Dominionism discussion is that few people are pointing out that we alreadysaw the excesses of religious right governance in the last administration--in science policy, and the law. (Doesn't anyone remember the previous administration's justice department, e.g., Monica Goodling?)