Locke, Machiavelli and Rick Warren

Rick Warren, who's about to interview Obama and McCain, gets interviewed by our own Jeff Goldberg:

I believe in the separation of church and state, but I do not believe in the separation of politics from religion. Faith is simply a worldview. A person who says he puts his faith on the shelf when he's making decisions is either an idiot or a liar. It's entirely appropriate for me to ask what is [the Presidential candidates'] frame of reference.

To which Andrew splutters:

The entire basis for Western secular government, which rests on the capacity of people to distance absolute truth from political affairs, is based on idiocy or lies? I wonder if Warren has ever read Locke, or Hobbes, or Machiavelli or would even understand the term secularism if t knocked him square off his pedestal.

You know, I can pretty much guarantee that Andrew has read a lot more of Locke, Hobbes and Machiavelli than Rick Warren - and of any relevant political philosopher you care to name, for that matter. Yet oddly, the bumptious Warren seems to have a stronger grasp of what separation of church and state has actually meant in the American political tradition, both historically and philosophically, than my vastly more erudite colleague.