June 21, 2004

Change in the weather...

Here's a very interesting Italian article, Bush Brought a Gift for the Pope, on religious changes in the US, and in American politics...

...But there is also underway a noticeable drawing together between Bush and Catholics in the United States. In the surveys for the November presidential elections, a majority of Catholics favor the reconfirmation of the incumbent president. And this in spite of the fact that he is a Methodist, while his opponent, the Democrat John Kerry, is a Catholic.

That’s not all. An even more relevant convergence is underway, the one taking place between Catholic Americans and their most heated religious rivals: the evangelical Protestants. This convergence is an absolute novelty in the history of the United States. And it has consolidated with the Bush presidency....

...The novelty is that, for some time now, the most inner circle of Bush’s collaborators has included a very authoritative Catholic priest. He is Fr. Neuhaus, a former Lutheran pastor, who converted to Catholicism in 1990 and was ordained a priest the following year by the archbishop of New York at the time, John Cardinal O’Connor....

...Meanwhile, the pope of Rome is no longer the Antichrist for the evangelicals of the United States. In a recent survey of them, John Paul II won first place for popularity, with 59 percent saying they view him favorably, ahead of Pat Robertson, with 54, and Jerry Falwell, with 44 percent.

And the pope returns the affection, with an eye for the November presidential election. In the June 4 edition of “Corriere della Sera,” Luigi Accattoli, the Vatican journalist who most faithfully reports the views from the pontifical palazzo, wrote that the pope has already decided: he prefers the evangelical Bush to the Catholic Kerry. And “he wants to help him with the Catholic voters.”....

Evangelical Christians have also become the most pro-Israel group in our politics. Probably they support Israel more strongly than American Jews do. They are finding much common ground with religious Jews.

One thing I find curious is that people of a leftish sort seem incapable of seeing these movements. For them, "the Religious Right" are knuckle-dragging fascists and cowboy morons, who want to establish a medieval "theocracy." The much-more interesting truth is quite invisible to them. Someone like John Ashcroft is invisible, he can only be seen as a caricature. It seems to me to be the kind of blindness you see in those who don't dare examine their own positions too closely, for fear of finding nothing much there.

If you are interested in President Bush's faith and views, try this interview in Christianity Today, by a panel of religious thinkers.

Posted by John Weidner at June 21, 2004 7:40 PM
Weblog by John Weidner