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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The United Christian States Of America

by digby

Steve Benen does a nice analysis of the controversial new Huckabee ad, here. It seems this really is the first time any candidate has actually mentioned "Christ" in a political ad, so I guess it's something of a milestone. But if I had to guess, it's not going to be the last. Why would it?

In 2000, George W. Bush pretty much clinched the nomination when we saw the dim little light in his head slowly start to flicker as he figured out that "Christ" was the right answer to the question of who was his favorite political philosopher.

Just this week our elected congresspersons passed this legislation 372-9:

Recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian

Whereas Christmas, a holiday of great significance to Americans
and many other cultures and nationalities, is celebrated
annually by Christians throughout the United
States and the world;

Whereas there are approximately 225,000,000 Christians in
the United States, making Christianity the religion of
over three-fourths of the American population;

Whereas there are approximately 2,000,000,000 Christians
throughout the world, making Christianity the largest religion
in the world and the religion of about one-third of
the world population;

Whereas Christians identify themselves as those who believe
in the salvation from sin offered to them through the sacrifice
of their savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
and who, out of gratitude for the gift of salvation, commit
themselves to living their lives in accordance with the
teachings of the Holy Bible;

Whereas Christians and Christianity have contributed greatly
to the development of western civilization;

Whereas the United States, being founded as a constitutional
republic in the traditions of western civilization, finds
much in its history that points observers back to its roots
in Christianity;

Whereas on December 25 of each calendar year, American
Christians observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the
birth of their savior, Jesus Christ;

Whereas for Christians, Christmas is celebrated as a recognition
of God's redemption, mercy, and Grace; and

Whereas many Christians and non-Christians throughout the
United States and the rest of the world, celebrate Christmas
as a time to serve others: Now, therefore be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world;
(2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide;
(3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith;
(4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization;
(5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and
(6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.

When you have a huge bipartisan majority feeling it's politically appropriate (necessary?) to put something like number four above into the congressional record, why would evoking the name of Christ in political commercials be anything but appropriate also?

Get used to it folks. And it won't be just the Republicans. The Democrats are preaching like crazy out on the stump too. It's the new reality.

This will never end by secularists (whether religious or not) objecting, so there's no point in even trying. This blatant use of religious symbolism and rhetoric will only stop when the sectarian wars make it necessary. We've had a little taste of what can happen when the religious wars break out with the (so far) mild skirmishes between Huckabee and Romney. It won't be the last of it. While Christianity certainly played an historical role in the development of western civilization, its role in sectarian religious wars is also undisputed.

I'm afraid we are going to have to see that played out in ugly fashion before this explicit religious proselytizing masquerading as politics will fade back to the more generally soothing bromides like "may God bless the United States of America" with which nobody except the most vociferous absolutists have a problem.

In the meantime, I don't think it's too much to ask that if these candidates are all going to run as the second coming that they be able to heal the sick with a universal health care plan and turn the deficit into a surplus.