Category Archives: politics

Do you have a religious litmus test?

Unless you recently awoke from hibernation, if you’re American, you’re probably aware there’s an election coming up pretty soon.  As a result, you’ve likely given at least some thought to whom you’ll vote for and why.  As for myself, I live in a part of the country where the election of a particular candidate is pretty much already a foregone conclusion, but that hasn’t prevented me from indulging the voter impulse and contemplating how I would vote too.

One of the considerations I struggle with is to what extent do I consider a candidate’s religious views – or lack thereof.  As an atheist, I’m inclined to look upon atheist politicians more favorably than those who seemingly wear religion on their sleeves.  Yet, suppose the former holds positions I for the most part disagree with, while the latter expresses policy preferences broadly in alignment with my own?  Whom do I choose?

I, like probably most atheists, would hold my nose while voting for the religious candidate.  The reason is that, on balance, I see the atheist candidate with the disagreeable positions as more likely harmful to my own well-being and that of the country’s.  God-belief isn’t much concerned with pressing issues like the economy, health care, debt, and Social Security, so the candidates’ religious views just don’t rise all that high on the scale of importance.

Where I see the candidates as nearly equal with respect to my own political views, I’m more likely to seriously consider a candidate’s religious views, but it would be among a host of other influences.  For example, I view single party control of the executive and legislative branches as generally something to be avoided, so the candidate of the “party in power” is less likely to get my vote.

In sum, a candidate’s broader economic and political viewpoint trumps religious belief in my book.  I say this as a committed atheist.  What about my opposite, the True Believer?  Would they agree?

The likelihood is that they wouldn’t, according to a 2007 Gallup poll.  A slim majority – but a majority nonetheless – would not vote for a generally well-qualified atheist for president, even if it was their own party’s nominee.  The picture changes when you break it down by political outlook, with only about a third of conservatives voting for an atheist, compared to two-thirds for liberals and about half for moderates.  The figures should be taken with a grain of salt, however.  For instance, 80% of conservatives ended up voting for the candidate who was 72 years of age in the 2008 presidential election (McCain), though only 63% of them reported they would in the poll.

As I noted above, none of this cogitating will produce any practical action since I don’t have the choices in this election others have.  But what about you?  Are religious views important in your decision to vote for a particular candidate?

Why atheists cheer for gay marriage

The Washington Post reported recently on the fascinating results of a new poll showing a sharp turnaround in support for gay marriage nationwide.  For the first time, a majority -albeit a slim one-favors such marriages.  Three years ago, a strong majority rejected them.  Gays can thank those under 35 for the shift, among whom support has grown the most rapidly.  While political views tend to grow more conservative with age, gays can justifiably cheer over the news, which is but the latest in a series of favorable portents. (In the wake of Proposition 8’s passage in California last year outlawing gay marriage there, I saw reasons to remain optimistic, but did not believe a reversal in public opinion would be so swift).

Although gay marriage doesn’t touch most atheists directly, I know many follow its triumphs and setbacks like sports fans follow their favorite teams.  The reason I suspect is because opposition to gay marriage encapsulates like no other issue so many of the reasons why atheists reject religion and seek to diminish its influence in the public sphere.  First of all, there is the believer’s presumption that their bronze-age holy books contain some immutable, objective moral code – a code which for the most part they themselves either ignore or selectively apply.  Second, there is the inappropriate intrusion of the believer’s morality into the public policy.  If their religion disavows gay marriage, fine by me, but by what right do they proscribe it in secular law as well?  The logic of their stance is identical to that employed by the mullahs instituting Sharia law.  Third, there is the utter poverty of their arguments, such as the one claiming defense of “traditional marriage” (whatever that is), or the absurd one claiming that believers will experience a wave of persecution as a result of gay marriage.  Finally, there is the sheer hypocrisy of same-sex marriage’s most ardent foes, religions that loudly proclaim marriage is divinely ordained between one man and one woman only, while their Godly founders and “prophets” not only had multiple wives, but some who were barely teens, or even younger.

So gay marriage is a barometer of sorts for religion’s waning influence in areas it doesn’t belong.  Non-believers — as well as believers who firmly uphold the separation of church and state – can applaud to the extent the practice is defined as a civil rights issue, and not a “family values” issue.  Intolerant religious devotees will continue to wail and gnash their teeth as state-after-state legalizes the practice.  That’s fine by me.  They’ll only marginalize themselves and make it that much more difficult to press their faith-based views in other areas of public policy.  And we’ll all be better off for it.

Dr. David Aikman defends his views, and my reply

It seems I have a knack for provoking a response from major Christian apologists who’ve promulgated the idea that atheism and the atrocities committed by the 20th centuries’ totalitarian regimes are indelibly linked.  Dinesh D’Souza has previously responded, though in a perfunctory and inadequate manner, and now Dr. David Aikman does too, but not much better.  In his email to me, which can be read in full as the first reply to this post, Dr. Aikman claims he doesn’t have time to craft a full rebuttal to my comments right now, though that doesn’t stop him from searching my blog (I had included a link to the blog version in my email to him) to try to find out who I am, chide me for some comments I made about myself, bizarrely imply that I’m a sexual predator, and cry foul over the tone of my missive.

A couple words on that last charge, which is the only one worth dignifying with an answer.  This blog has several regular Christian readers, at least one of whom has commented on its relatively acrid-free atmosphere.  Nonetheless, there are times when I take a more belittling approach, as I did with Dr. Aikman.  The reason for it in his case is that I feel he is being purposely deceitful, at least in the work of his I read, which I strongly object to and believe is unprofessional.  It is one thing to have a difference of opinion on matters, but quite another to deliberately skew, make materially false claims, and ignore evidence in order to make one’s case.  I cannot be polite to individuals who do this. 

With that said, here are my comments on the substantive points he raises in reply.

Aikman: I can only say that if you hadn’t heard of any reputable scholar supporting the notion that Communist tyranny was directly related to atheist thought, you certainly didn’t spend much time in the library or worse, your professors were uniformly unwilling to reveal that quite a lot of scholars — yes, including Jesuits — have made the connection.  Ever read any Dostoyevsky, Robert?… I don’t know what your definition of “objective” is in your phrase “objective scholars,” but if you looked up my Ph.D. dissertation you’d find quite a lot of objective scholars who have connected the threads between atheist thought and terror.  Ever heard of Nechayev?  Or don’t they like to mention him in your version of Russian history 101?

Despite all these scholars Aikman claims supports him, he gives only one name: Dostoevsky – a 19th century novelist and Russian Orthodox sectarian, who was not just anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic, holding a special hatred of Jesuits in particular, but a radical slavophile. Does Aikman endorse these views too?  Dostoevsky was assuredly a brilliant writer, but when he claims without intentional hyperbole that “The demons are ideas,” (that came to Russian from the West), “that legion of isms: idealism, rationalism, empiricism, materialism, utilitarianism, positivism, socialism, anarchism, nihilism, and, underlying them all, atheism”, one can safely doubt his objectivity.  Though Dostoevsky is clearly one of Aikman’s key intellectual influences, cannot he reach outside the echo chamber of militant theists to support his views?  (Nechayev, one of many of the 19th century’s radical communist revolutionaries, was a sort of proto-Stalin, i.e., an individual who believed that the ends justified the means when birthing the new communist existence).

When I say objective scholars, I mean those individuals who have no horse in the race, whose professional careers depend on their ability and renown to make the most sense out of history in the most non-prejudicial manner as possible.  Scholars like Hannah Arendt, Richard Pipes, Moshe Lewin, Stephen Cohen, Robert Conquest — historians who’ve examined the evidence with a bird’s eye view and come to different conclusions than his.  In a sentiment echoed by atheist Sam Harris, Conquest writes in his classic Harvest of Sorrow (pg. 6-7):

For the events we recount here were the result not simply of an urge to power, an insistence on suppressing all autonomous forces in the country, but also of a set of doctrines about the social and economic results achievable by terror and falsehood…it is at least clear that, at more than one level, the sort of rationality sometimes allowed even by critics opposed to the programme was not really much in evidence, or only at a shallow level inappropriate to the complexities of reality.

When I scoff at the Christian apologists’ attempts to lay communist and Nazi atrocity at atheism’s door, I’m merely echoing the implied or stated views of these historians and experts.  One such expert, Dr. Rudolph Rummel, who has extensively examined the sources of mass political murder, which he calls “democide,” has specifically repudiated the link:

Q: Is atheism the principal factor in democide, such as that committed by the “Big Three,” Stalin, Mao, and Hitler?

A: No. I find that religion or its lack – atheism – have hardly anything to do in general with wide-scale democide. The most important factor is totalitarian power. Whether a church, atheists, or agnostics have that power is incidental – it is having the power that is a condition of democide. Incidentally, some ideologies, such as communism, function psychologically and sociologically as though a religion. The only distinction is whether the subject is a god or a man, such as Marx, Lenin, Hirohito, Hitler, Mohammed, Kim Ill sung, Mao, etc.

Not only must Dr. Aikman explain the absence of support among his contemporaries for his claims, he must rebut their own arguments.  An authentic scholarly treatment of a question typically does this, but his failure to reflects the fact that he’s writing propaganda for the Christian masses, where objectivity and a balanced consideration of the evidence are studiously avoided.

Aikman: It is absurd to complain that I don’t go into the private property issue. If I’d been writing a comprehensive account of Communist tyranny, I would obviously have discussed it. I wasn’t; I was dealing with the dangerous consequences of the coerced suppression of religion.

When your need is to establish that the Marxist-Leninist program consisted primarily of the forced eradication of religion, of course it’s “absurd” to go into the issue of private property.  But what those of us without theological blinders know abundantly well, the religious question was but a sideshow to this program.  As Lenin wrote in Socialism and Religion,

It would be bourgeois narrow-mindedness to forget that the yoke of religion that weighs upon mankind is merely a product and reflection of the economic yoke within society. No number of pamphlets and no amount of preaching can enlighten the proletariat, if it is not enlightened by its own struggle against the dark forces of capitalism.

Daniel Peris explains why religion wasn’t really a huge concern until late in the game:

Revolutionaries inspired by Marxism were not supposed to have to contend with religion after a proletarian revolution. Bolshevik policy makers were operating within an ideological framework theorized for an industrialized nation with an already secularized working class.  The Revolution, however, took place in the still largely rural, agrarian, and Holy Russia.  While political aspects of Marxism had been modified (if not fully reversed) by Lenin to justify a takeover in Russia, the revisionary process had not extended to cultural transformation, and certainly not to the dissemination of atheism.  Direct antireligious propaganda, however framed, amounted to ideological voluntarism, and Bolshevik leaders repeatedly stated that the ultimate “liquidation of religion” would require the completed construction of socialism (Storming the Heavens: The Soviet League of the Militant Godless, pg. 24).

So Dr. Aikman is simply being disingenuous.  He’s alleged in his work that the basis of 20th century tyranny is atheism.  But as I pointed out to him, the disregard for private property as a key basis for tyranny is a notion that’s been recognized for centuries, even by his fellow Christians.  In other words, there’s long existed a rival hypothesis to his, which he simply ignores in order to bolster his own.  I suggest there’s another reason for this: communist antipathy toward private property has a direct lineage to the Bible.  For Dr. Aikman to acknowledge this would open up a Pandora’s Box of difficult questions that would fatally undermine his claims.

Aikman: If you knew anything about Lenin’s furious tirades against Bolsheviks who were interested in religious ideas, you’d have known that his antipathy for both Christian belief and the Orthodox Church far predated the Russian civil war.  You seem to think that Lenin smacked the back of his wrist on his forehead and said, “Gosh, those Orthodox priests, that’s why they’re so horrible.  They’re supporting the Whites!”  Oh, and speaking of canards, it’s quite silly to say that Lenin was an atheist because Orthodox priests were so corrupt and — as you do rightly say — had supported the worst of tsarist autocracy.  People can make quite a variety of different choices when they encounter corrupt priests.  They can become Protestants, for example.  Luther did.

 “Furious tirades” like this one?

Religion must be declared a private affair. In these words socialists usually express their attitude towards religion. But the meaning of these words should be accurately defined to prevent any misunderstanding. We demand that religion be held a private affair so far as the state is concerned. But by no means can we consider religion a private affair so far as our Party is concerned. Religion must be of no concern to the state, and religious societies must have no connection with governmental authority. Everyone must be absolutely free to profess any religion he pleases, or no religion whatever, i.e., to be an atheist, which every socialist is, as a rule. Discrimination among citizens on account of their religious convictions is wholly intolerable. Even the bare mention of a citizen’s religion in official documents should unquestionably be eliminated. No subsidies should be granted to the established church nor state allowances made to ecclesiastical and religious societies. These should become absolutely free associations of like-minded citizens, associations independent of the state. Only the complete fulfillment of these demands can put an end to the shameful and accursed past when the church lived in feudal dependence on the state, and Russian citizens lived in feudal dependence on the established church, when medieval, inquisitorial laws (to this day remaining in our criminal codes and on our statute-books) were in existence and were applied, persecuting men for their belief or disbelief, violating men’s consciences, and linking cozy government (Socialism and Religion, 1905)

I never claimed that Lenin was an atheist because of corrupt Orthodox priests.  Rather, I objected strongly to Dr. Aikman’s failure to note the Russian Orthodox Church’s corrupting influence and reactionary role in Russian history, instead giving the impression it was some innocent persecuted bystander.  Lenin’s attitude toward religion and Christianity was informed not just by Marx, and not just by Orthodoxy, but also by the mundane observation they were destructive for much of their existence.  But as we know, Lenin, like many communists, believed religion would ultimately fade away on its own accord, so he could afford to be ambivalent, as the above quote demonstrates.  When it proved far more reactionary, dangerous, and persistent than his ideology allowed, Lenin turned antagonistic (for a time).  It’s simply false that “religious opposition in no way posed any kind of threat to [Lenin’s] regime,” and Aikman knows it.

It’s curious that Aikman cites Luther as an example of an alternative path that could be followed.  Is he suggesting that it’s appropriate to become a raving anti-Semite as well?

Aikman: Yes, Robespierre was a deist, but he hated Christianity and the Terror was a continuation of the de-Christianization period of the French Revolution.  Hitler wasn’t an atheist, but he hated Christianity was well.  Jefferson liked to call himself a Christian, though he clearly wasn’t a believer and he despised every Christian he knew except John Adams.

I’m heartened to see that Dr. Aikman is not completely blind to the patently obvious.  Despite his chapter header, “The Problem of Wicked Atheists: Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot,” he now acknowledges that “Hitler wasn’t an atheist.”  He also acknowledges the primary role deists played in the Reign of Terror.  The hole in his argument should thus be blazingly obvious.  If atheism is not a necessary component of totalitarian terror in general or of religious persecution in particular, then, logically, it’s quite possibly not a component at all.  Is the real problem “de-Christianization,” as he seems to suggest?  If so, then the hole in his argument is now large enough to fly a 747 through, because it’s a policy that even his fellow theists have pursued.  The truth of the matter is that anyone can be irreligious, or simply anti-Christian, for reasons wholly unrelated to atheism.  Since that is so, his argument collapses.  The problem is not atheism, but of state-directed illiberalism and the centralization of power.  I invite Dr. Aikman to read the works of Lord Acton, whose observations, while meant for a different set of tyrannical dictators (namely, the Popes in Rome), remain relevant.

I found it odd that Aikman spared not a single comment or a defense of his claim that, “The Soviet experience thoroughly demonstrates that if God is eliminated from public life, a much worse deity inevitably is erected in his [sic] place”, since it’s so central to his case.  And yet, how could he? When sociologists have found that such irreligious societies as Sweden and Denmark to be “moral, stable, humane, and deeply good,” it is simply an untenable position.

Aikman: You seem to have a profound rage against Christianity  Are you recovering from unpleasant childhood experiences of religion?  It always amazes me that secular humanists, who claim either that there is no god or that it doesn’t really matter whether there is one or not, get so angry when people suggest — terribile dictu — that God might exist and might have something to say about our world.

Goodness, not this canard again.  I suspect Christians love to believe it because it helps relieve the massive cognitive dissonance they must deal with on a daily basis.  Fortunately, I’ve already addressed it.

Pssst, guys…

It seems that some liberal/progressive groups are upset over President-elect Barak Obama’s decision to invite Christian pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration.  Warren, who typically sides with conservatives on social issues, is a staunch opponent of gay marriage.

“[T]he sad truth is that this decision further elevates someone who has in recent weeks actively promoted legalized discrimination and denigrated the lives and relationships of millions of Americans,” fumed Kathryn Kolbert, president of People for the American Way.

Joe Solmonese, head of the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, was even harsher.  “We feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination,” he wrote to Obama.

Perhaps if Kolbert, Solmonese, and millions of other liberals had been paying attention during the campaign, they’d know that Obama and Biden are among the same “promoters of an anti-gay agenda” as Warren.  From the vice-presidential debate on October 2, 2008:

IFILL: Let’s try to avoid nuance, Senator. Do you support gay marriage?

BIDEN: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.

It’s up to people of faith, like Warren, to determine what constitutes marriage, according to Obama and Biden.  Doesn’t seem to get any clearer (or ridiculous) than that.  But if liberals weren’t so keen to project their every wish, dream, or fantasy onto Obama during the campaign, their shocked reactions today would be mere shrugs.

The silver lining to Proposition 8’s passage

Like many in the non-religious community, I was outraged by the passage of Proposition 8 in California, which banned gay marriage there.  It was nothing less than the denial of a basic civil right by enshrining a specifically religious viewpoint into law – a stark reminder of the potent power of faith to cause hardship and derail progress even today.

Still, I see reasons for guarded optimism.  At the least, we should recall that states are clearly divided on the issue, which should dampen pressure for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a prospect seriously raised not too long ago.

More important, opposition has progressively waned as time has gone on, with polls showing highest support among the future electorate.  This augurs well for the gay marriage down the road, though it’s cold comfort for gays understandably indignant at present-day discrimination.

To the extent that Christians were heavily involved in passing Prop 8, I think their image will suffer further damage.  Already, protests are being waged against churches in California whose involvement was influential in the proposition’s success.  Mormons and Catholics, two denominations in particular that poured many resources into the pro campaign are currently experiencing difficulties retaining members, and can only be further damaged by a negative backlash.  Polls show Christianity is increasingly seen in a negative light, with even many younger Christians bothered by its overt anti-gay agenda.  A decline in Christian numbers and influence, accelerated by the passage of Prop 8, can only mean good news for gays in the long term.

“If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself”

I sincerely apologize to those of you who had anything in their mouths whilst reading the above quote, but this political put-down, which has got to be one of the funniest I’ve ever read, was simply too good not to headline.

Consider this an update on my previous blog, “Palin – Not Ready for Primetime?“, in which I ridicule the McCain campaign’s rationale for refusing to expose Palin to the network talk shows.  I must apologize, because, now that Palin has talked to reporters, it’s clear McCain’s people were simply following that sage advice, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

What makes the quote especially delicious is that it comes not from some media elite pinko liberal but from that standard-bearer of online conservatism, National Review Online.  Its author, Kathleen Parker, offers even more devastating blasts:

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

That last one must be particularly galling to the McCain campaign, since it was National Review Online (particularly David Frum), which played no small part in torpedoing the candidacy of another unqualified nominee, Harriet Myers.  I did not think it was possible, but Palin has actually made me consider voting Democrat for the first time…ever.

If a picture is worth a thousands words, then video is worth millions.  WARNING!  Completely cringe-inducing!  Palin, on her “foreign policy experience” with Katie Couric.

Palin – Not Ready for Primetime?

Amidst the upsurge in enthusiasm for the McCain-Palin ticket as a result of last week’s Republican convention, many probably missed a notable absence on the Sunday morning talk shows.  While Obama, Biden, and McCain were on each of the three major networks, Palin was no where to be found, not even on the Republican mouthpiece, Fox News!

A McCain campaign adviser said Palin would not appear until reporters showed a willingness to treat her with “with some level of respect and deference.”


Even if it was true that reporters are not sufficiently respectful or deferential, the appropriate response is not to go into hiding.  Are we to get the impression that this self-styled pitbull is all bark and no bite?  Will this be Palin’s modus operandi in dealing with foreign leaders or even Congress – promise to compliment her hair and then she’ll talk?

The patent absurdity of this excuse underlies the true reason – Palin just doesn’t have the depth to answer even softball questions.  Further, if what I blogged about her before is any indication, she’s prone to making some embarassing factual gaffes.

And this is the person McCain believes is ready to be the next president at a moment’s notice.  Honestly, I’m not sure which of the two is worse: the one severely lacking in judgement, or the one severely lacking in experience.

Are we all subject to God’s Law?

A blog on the The New Republic’s website about the progressive narrowing of the religious right’s social agenda reminded me of a question that’s buzzed around in my head from time-to-time.  We all know this agenda includes banning gay marriage and abortion, because the Bible says these are no-no’s, but the question is, why does the religious right seek to make these social issues, subject to punitive legislation, rather than merely private concerns?

Because God hates them?  Well, God hates lots of things, including adultery, divorce, and linen-wool blended clothing (Lev. 19:19), but no one is proposing to outlaw them, which I suppose is fortunate for a few mega-preachers.

Because they violate the Ten Commandments, upon which the entirety of western civilization is allegedly based?  That might work for abortion (Commandment VI), but gay marriage?  Is there some secret 11th commandment they’re not telling us about?  Should we also ban other religions (Commandment I)?  Playing golf on Sunday (Commandment IV)?

Because Jesus specifically forbade them?  No good there, either; he was completely silent on these issues.

Because they’re personally harmed?  It’s hard to see how two same-sex individuals uttering marriage vows harms anyone.  And wouldn’t aborted babies get a ticket straight to heaven?

Because they’re slippery slopes, leading inexorably to the complete destruction of society? I’d think the religious right would want society to fall into moral turpitude, do everything to hasten it, in fact, since that would fulfill prophecy of Jesus’s return (2 Tim. 3:1-4) and the moving in to their new heavenly mansions.

I’m trying quite hard, but I fail to see the religious right’s method for determining when a Biblical injunction should apply only to themselves, and when it should apply to society as a whole.

Even more curiously, these behavioral autocrats believe that man is inherently fallen and will always do all sorts of nasty stuff.  So why should they even care what any non-believer does?  Are laws against certain sins supposed to make the country more moral?  If so, why not scrap the entire legal code and make the Bible the basis of our laws, turn our democracy into a theocracy?  Because, as we know, that’s worked so well in the past.

As a libertarian, I find their professions of faith in freedom hypocritical.  Liberty is not granted piecemeal; it’s not even a grant, but our inherent right.  The best protection of one’s own freedom is the protection of everyone else’s.  A government with the right to trample on your neighbor’s freedom also has the right to trample on your own.  If the religious nannies really practiced what they preached, they would cease being obstacles and live their lives as an example.

If you wish to observe a particular day as holy or refrain from pre-marital sex in compliance with the dictates of your particular religious brand, more power to you.  Just don’t extend those rules to the rest of us, or you may find yourself living by the rules others think you should live by.

Palin needs a course in American history

The website Fundies Say the Darndest Things! (linked to the left) is a treasure trove of absolute batshit crazy statements from the religious faithful.  While being stupendously funny, they’re also a mite sobering when you realize that they’re made in full seriousness.

While perusing through this month’s entries, I read the following gem:

11. Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

Sarah Palin: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.

Sarah Palin, in case you’ve been buried in a cave for the past week, is John McCain’s recent choice for running mate, and potential Vice President (not to mention President…).  The “oopsie!” is of course not the obvious grammar mistakes, but the fact that the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was not added until 1954.  And it was not written by the Founding Fathers, but by a Christian socialist minister in 1892.  Curiously, the source page for the above quote was deleted, but nothing ever truly disappears off the internet.  A simple search of the page on Google retrieved it from cache.

Frankly, it doesn’t much surprise me that the evangelical Christan Palin holds this mistaken view of American history.  Ask any such Christian, and they’ll offer up a wholly revisionist history of the country’s founding, claiming, among other things, that it was established as a Christian nation (it wasn’t) and that the Ten Commandments inspired American law (sorry, no good there, either).

Palin holds a worldview that doesn’t seem all that dissimilar from the current president’s.  Is that a good thing?  I guess it depends on your view of how the past 8 years have gone.