Email from Nebraska

A reader writes:

I just discovered you after reading "My Problem with Christianism." I seriously read the essay at least 10 times because I could not believe someone wrote into words what I have been feeling for years! I have shared it with so many of my friends and they too have all had the same reaction. I live in Nebraska and I feel like I'm walking with a bunch of pod people. They follow this administration like some sort of cult, zombies, afraid to question it because of their religious beliefs. Somehow it goes against God to question Bush because he prays and is "moral" because he's pro-life, wants to ban gay marriage and fight evil around the world! (like some sort of super hero). It's very frustrating.

I'm not running this email as some kind of self-puffery. I'm running it because it's an on-the-ground account of what sustains this administration's base level of support. When you get down to the last twenty percent, it's not political support; it's religious. We have the first truly sectarian, religious administration, appealing for support on theological grounds, and relying on churches to sustain it. I find this deeply troubling both for government and for religion. If support for a president rests on his religious faith rather than a judgment of his policies, then civil, secular politics - whether on the right or left - is finished. Faith cannot be debated; it can merely be asserted. If it is the core basis for politics, as we see in Iraq or the Balkans or Northern Ireland, a multi-faith society ceases to function as a democracy. Conservatives, while respecting religious faith, should nonetheless strongly resist this temptation to turn politics into religion. It is a tiger you cannot ride for long.