Deliver Us From Douthat

April 10, 2012 at 10:29 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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In an Easter Sunday column in the New York Times, Ross Douthat argues that “the disappearance of a Christian center and the decline of institutional religion more generally” has led to “division, demonization and polarization without end” in American politics. The piece is so shot full of inaccuracies, generalizations and ideological hoo-hah that I very nearly laid my face down on my  breakfast pancakes. There was so much to disagree with, the thought of commenting on the article totally exhausted me. Even more horrifying, the article is taken from Douthat’s presumably just as bad new book, the title of which I refuse to mention for fear of contributing to sales.

Thank God, religion and journalism scholar Mark Silk has more energy than I; he eviscerates Douthat point by point in an Easter Monday article, “Bad Douthat,” on the Religion News Service webpage.  No, Ross, JFK was not the first non-mainstream-Protestant US president. No, the 1950s saw nothing like the acknowledgement of common theological ground between Catholics and Protestants. No, Obama is not an “unchurched Christian,” and stop making offensive remarks about him. No, Romney’s LDS church is not growing quickly. No, not all institutional churches in the past “proved their worth as both sources of moral authority and hubs of activism”–consider the opposition to civil rights by white churches in the South. No, Ross,  “the problem in our time is not that religious causes have polarized the polity, but that they have been mapped onto partisan politics. By consciously building a base of supporters on religious lines, the Republican Party has taken the normal cut-and-thrust of religion in America and institutionalized it politically. It’s not bad religion that brought this about. It’s bad politics.”

Silk’s article is well worth reading in toto. It offers an insight into the nonsense that passes for journalism these days. Why, I wonder, does the New York Times, the “paper of record,” as some say, publish this stuff?

(Many thanks to my friend, Religion in America scholar David Watt, for posting a link to Silk’s article on his Facebook page.)

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