It is interesting to see the media in a dither over the religious beliefs of the Republican candidates for President. Bill Keller wrote in the New York Times that the Republican candidates “belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans.” In the International Business Times, Maggie Astor opined that the “fire-and-brimstone” rhetoric of Michele Bachman and Rick Perry prove that they have no respect for the separation of church and state.

Though he is apparently near death, a still unrepentant Christopher Hitchins complained in Slate that Bachmann considered Hurricane Irene to be a message from God, and that Perry has (gasp!) called prayer meetings, quoted Scripture, and branded evolution an unproven theory. But not to worry: In the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker has pronounced that, with respect to religion, most Americans will not vote for “the kind of literal mindedness that leads straight to the dark ages.”

These references are courtesy of the September 9th edition of The Week. I do my best to avoid such publications, and I use The Week for surreptitious peeks. But the assumptions underlying some of these statements are as bizarre as any doctrine of an obscure religious sect. Does Christopher Hitchens really mean that it is impossible for a person to be both religious and political at the same time? Or that all politicians must evaluate scientific theories in the same way? And does Kathleen Parker really believe that her statement about literalism and the dark ages has some rational meaning? It sure sounds like an incantation to me.

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