No God But Country

Paul Harvey

At Religion Dispatches, Katie Lofton provides an analysis of religious rhetoric and the election singlehandedly worth more than an entire year's stack of controversy-of-the-day political commentary. Dispensing with (while also explaining) the surface trivia of this or that campaign controversy flareup, Katie explores the strikingly areligious yet highly pietistic world of John McCain. So, turn off the TV and get busy with this substantive analysis instead. A brief excerpt here:

It matters very little to me (as a voter, as a thinker, and as a believer) that John McCain doesn’t articulate a deity familiar to any available denomination of Christianity (or Judaism or Hinduism or Islam). John McCain is, indisputably, a man of courage and intelligence. To suggest that he is not recognizably Baptist (nor ostensibly Episcopalian) is merely to demonstrate that our enterprise of discerning religion from political candidates misses, precisely, the realities of religion. In some contrast to the pursuits of journalism, the religionist does not anticipate the craven, presuming that all words of faith are pandering rhetoric meant to appease men with guns and girls with God(s). Rather, our job is to collect the available artifacts of religion (words and acts supplied in archive or public record) and render an analysis of the subject. For students of religion, this analysis is not an inherently apolitical exercise, but it is, at its best, one disentangled from theological prescription. Somehow, without a God (but not, as we will see, without a powerful creed) John McCain has forged for himself a moral mode, a discourse, a rhetoric of righteousness. What, then, ought it matter whether he is or is not, technically speaking, Christian?


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