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Got an email from Derek after my interview with Cokie Roberts last week that said this:
Pete, wanted to give you kudos for a fine interview with Ms. Cokie Roberts. You were beyond respectful - even when she went down the predictable road about Republicans being anti-immigration rather than anti-illegal immigration...I wanted to tell you that the best part of the conversation was when you asked her about the anti-Mormonism and religious bigotry within the Democrat Party. You could hear her choke on her own words. Beautiful.
I appreciate the sentiments, Derek. Along those same lines, a recent column by Maureen Down in the New York Times totally validated the point I was making to Ms. Roberts. If you want to see religious bigotry, don't focus on how evangelical Christians will have an issue with Romney's Mormonism; rather, check out the way the left regards anyone of faith - and particularly Mormons.
Here was what Dowd wrote:
At an appearance at George Washington University here Saturday night, Bill Maher bounded into territory that the news media have been gingerly tiptoeing around. Magic underwear. Baptizing dead people. Celestial marriages. Private planets. Racism. Polygamy. "By any standard, Mormonism is more ridiculous than any other religion," asserted the famously nonbelieving comic who skewered the "fairy tales" of several faiths in his documentary "Religulous."
Really, if you're looking for religious bigotry, all conversations can just cease after uttering the name Bill Maher. No surprise that Dowd chose to quote him as a scholar on the subject of Mormonism and public life. But obviously the fair-minded liberal writer wouldn't just leave Maher as her only source of wisdom and analysis on the subject. No, in order to be equally yoked, she brought in some counterbalance to Maher's heavy-handed antipathy and hatred for all things religious in the form of...another rabid atheist:
Another famous nonbeliever, Christopher Hitchens, wrote in Slate on Monday about "the weird and sinister belief system of the LDS," the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Weird and sinister belief system. More ridiculous than any other religion. If this isn't a judgmental attitude, could I ask what is? Now please understand, I am not defending the doctrine of Mormonism. I do not agree with it. But what you have going on here is a group of folks that are quick to bemoan the narrow-mindedness of evangelical Christians who are hesitant about supporting candidates who don't share their faith, showing outright hostility and bigotry towards a belief system that they don't hold.
Outrageously, after putting together this hit piece on Mormons, Dowd tries to blame Republicans who "made faith part of the presidential test." Townhall.com's editor Guy Benson wasn't having any of it, writing:
Actually, madam, it was you who just devoted an entire newspaper column to exploiting religious fault lines. Also, polls show that liberals are significantly more likely to reject a political candidate based entirely on his Mormon faith, so spare us the sanctimony. Despite what you might think of us, we're not that stupid, Maureen. Incidentally, I browsed your archives for a similarly alarmist piece about Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who also happens to be a Mormon. That search came up empty, curiously. I also scoured the web for your column examining the strain of Black Liberation Theology that Barack Obama heard preached from the pulpit of his church over the course of two decades. Again, nothing. What a surprise.
In an ham-fisted attempt to sow fears about the latest Republican she detests, Dowd trots out mean-spirited and scathing indictments of his religion from two militant atheists, repeats a fellow liberal's brow-furrowed reportage about Romney's role as a member of his church, then tries to attribute her own bigotry to all the other Republicans she detests. What a nasty little hit job.
Exactly right. Benson wisely encourages conservatives to strap on their helmets and get ready for another 13 months of this nonsense. Standards for thee but not for me.
The truth is that every voter will have to decide whether a candidate's faith is something that is too disturbing for them to accept when they step into the voting booth. Every voter has the right to apply whatever religious test they want to apply for those seeking their vote. But that is true of every candidate...not just the Mormon ones. That Dowd and these aggressively hostile liberals spend so much of their energy directing hatred and disdain towards one faith in particular is the surest form of bigotry you will ever see.