Friday, February 27, 2004

Think America's Too Religious?

Many people do. Skeptics are cool--even intellectual. I remember thinking so in college anyway.

College was a long time ago. Now I'm revolted by the hostility to faith and belief so common in the "smart crowd." Remember Howard Dean's "guns, God and gays" line? That was a political pitch, not a confession of faith. Dean--like many lefties--was patronizing the religious. They're bemused at the naivete of believers.

Which brings me to Mel Gibson. Left-wing reviewers hate his new movie with a "Passion"--because it treats Christ's crucifixion as fact. They're entitled to such ironic distance. But incredulous disbelief isn't enough: liberals prefer to mock.

Which brings me to Andy Rooney, the CBS News "correspondent." Last Sunday, Rooney preached from his "60 Minutes" perch about his recent chat with God:
"Andrew, you have the eyes and ears of a lot of people. I wish you'd tell your viewers that both Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson strike me as wackos. I believe that's one of your current words. They're crazy as bedbugs, another earthly expression. I created bedbugs. I'll tell you, they're no crazier than people," said God. . . "Mel is a real nut case. What in the world was I thinking when I created him? Listen, we all make mistakes."
Put differently, God told Rooney conservatives are crazy. Yet Rooney and other liberals despise political "interference" (i.e., positions on contemporary issues) from evangelical Christian leaders like Rev. Jerry Falwell or Rev. Franklin Graham. Yes, Rooney's piece was satire. But try satirizing something precious to the left--that's unlawful hate speech (scroll to item on "Satan worshippers").

Which brings me to the much-praised virtue of tolerance. I oppose intolerance personally and politically. But tolerance requires both give and take. And as Oliver North noted, "America's "elite" class has no tolerance for wholesome fare demanded by the public." The media's obvious contempt for moderation troubles me--even though I interpret the First Amendment to prohibit fines for scandalous Superbowls and juvenile jocks. (Note: the Supremes disagree. They're wrong.)

Which brings me to San Francisco. SanFran's a city "that has long prided itself on tolerance." But was it "tolerance" of Christianity that so unhinged Chronicle writer Don Lattin:
At the time, the Jewish world was in turmoil. There was a Jewish king, Herod, who collaborated with the Romans, as did some of the Jewish religious authorities. There were prophets, rebels, mystics, fundamentalists and more than one guy claiming to be the messiah. They all were trying to survive under the forces of an imperial occupation -- not unlike the Sunnis and the Shiites amid the chaos of today's Iraq.
Funny, I didn't know U.S. forces in Iraq were conducting summary trials, followed by torture and crucifixion. And the punchline is that Lattin's not even a movie critic: he's the SF Chronicle's "Religion Writer!"

Which brings me to the point. The liberal view of religion is stuck in century-and-a-half old Marxist hostility. Thus, despite their professed "tolerance," the left never plays fair. It's outrageous. Even to me--a secular skeptic of no denomination who rarely visits church or temple.

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