I'm sorry, but is it just me, or does being associated with religion in an American election seem contentious to the point of stupidity?
Case number 1: John McCain and televangelist John Hagee, who has been accused of anti-Catholicism.
Hagee endorsed McCain for the presidency on February 27. McCain's reaction to Hagee's endorsement was tepid, yet McCain at a campaign event Friday morning opined of Washington D.C. that, "it's harder and harder trying to do the Lord's work in the city of Satan." The event was staged at the company headquarters of one S. Truett Cathy, a devout Baptist.
On this same Friday morning, McCain addressed the socially/religiously conservative Council for National Policy. When asked by a council member how important a role religion plays in his life, McCain answered, "Obviously, very important."
McCain is walking a tightrope between disassociating himself from Hagee's Catholic-bashing and the Christian lobby who are holding his feet to the fire. You can't help but feel that, if you are running for office, you are damned if you accept endorsements that reek of religiosity and damned if you don't.
I would like to see McCain reject Hagee's endorsement and tell born-again folks like those in the Council for National Policy that there is a limit to how much of a role religion will play in his policies. But the senator's hands, unfortunately, are tied. It's an uncomfortable fact of life for conservative candidates who essentially end up bound and gagged by the holier-than-thou lobby.
Case number 2: The yokes around the necks of conservative candidates tend to pale in comparison to those around liberals.
Barack Obama has had to distance himself from the pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ, Jeremiah Wright.
The "good Reverend" railed against the United States in a sermon he delivered seven years ago, in the wake of 9/11. Wright asserted that America brought the September 11 atrocities on itself, stipulating that "[n]ow we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."
Two years later, in 2003, Wright delivered a sermon in which he expressed his belief that blacks should rise up against America. "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' … God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."
Recently, Wright attacked Hillary Clinton, remarking that, "Hillary ain't never been called a nigger."
Now for the killer: During this same sermon, Wright compared Obama to Jesus. That's a hell of an endorsement.
That's also one hell of a yoke.
Obama, as was expected, condemned the content of these controversial sermons, announcing, "I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Reverend Wright that are at issue."
He also claimed to have thought of leaving the Trinity Church had such statements been "the repeated tenor of the church."
Yet, as also expected, Obama has refused to condemn Wright as a man, asserting that he is actually more decent than he has recently been portrayed and that, while he may denounce what he may say, he will continue to look upon Wright as the man who brought him to Christianity and served as a major mentor in his life.
It seems to be an inevitable characteristic of any normal American election that it should be marred on one side by African-American preachers the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and Jeremiah Wright going to bat for the Democrats. And on the other side there seems to be no escaping the role of the fire-and-brimstone types who have reservations about supporting a Republican who's anything less than ethusiastic to enshrine creationism as the national belief via a Constitutional amendment.
I don't think I would even recognize a Presidential election without the ecstatic madness of religious extremism.