Christianity, love, hatred, and politics

Anyone who wants to see a sample of the sort of hate-mongering that too often passes for Christianity in American political discourse these days should take a look at this screed by someone named Matt Grills, is featured at Townhall.com, which is a significant conservative website.

The thrust of the piece is that since Howard Dean isn’t a fundamentalist, he isn’t a Christian. Okay, lots of fundamentalists believe that, and it’s their perfect right to hold and argue for that belief.

But of course that leaves out lots more people than Howard Dean. Roughly one billion Catholics, for example, regard the Sacraments as more important than reading the Bible.

But the truly lovely part of the essay is its resort to casual anti-Semitism.

His wife and children are Jewish. Cool. But I have to wonder: if Howie’s faith in Jesus Christ is so important to him, why didn’t he marry someone with the same faith? Why didn’t he insist on raising his children in that faith? Say it with me, on three: because what faith Howard Dean has in Jesus isn’t central to his life.

Dean married a Jew; therefore he can’t be a good Christian. I’m hoping for a storm of complaint from conservatives, and in particular conservatives who are also Jewish.

But I recall no such storm when the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed using exactly the same standard to show that Michael Dukakis wasn’t really Greek Orthodox. In fact, I recall a rather marked silence from the Anti-Defamation League. Perhaps they’ll do better this time.

[Atrios, to whom I am grateful for the pointer, picks up on the theology — without, I think, getting Grills’s point in the passage quoted, which is actually rather orthodox and well-supported by the texts — but not the anti-Semitism.] Update: Wrong! The “Jewish wife” bit is mentioned in an earlier Atrios item.

On a related topic, Stuart Buck has some comments on my dispute with Prof. Bainbridge about the meaning of “love your enemies.” Since he linked to my original post, I replied in an update on that post. There’s a longer update in a separate post here. Anyone still following the controversy is invited to check it out, not neglecting Prof. Bainbridge’s reply.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com