Religion rears its ugly head. In Egypt, Muslims have attacked Coptic Christians. And when the latter demonstrated peacefully in protest, elements of Egypt's military regime attacked them again. In Libya, a Jew returning from twenty years of exile to restore a synagogue, was assaulted and driven back into exile. The Arab Spring, with its hoped for flowering of democracy, is fast descending into an orgy of intolerance.
In America, the Perry campaign has kicked over a rock. Governor Rick Perry is the most overtly Evangelical of the candidates and his supporters have been pounding the pulpits. Mrs. Perry disingenuously deflected criticism of his poor debate performances by claiming he'd been "brutalized" for his faith. Worse still was a Perry camp bigot, Robert Jeffress, who attacked Governor Mitt Romney's Mormon faith as an unchristian cult. The remarks of neither have been repudiated by the candidate.
There remains the controversy over whether America is a Christian country. It is an argument that will never be resolved and won't go away. People are free to vote by any criterion they choose, and there will always be candidates who appeal to religious affinity. But publicly avowing that only a Christian is qualified to lead this nation is bitterly offensive to any who value the Constitution's unique contribution to history.
However, we can not deny that religion has a role. It does no good to weigh the brutality and injustice that it has caused through the ages because we can not fairly assess the good that faith has done, and still does, everyday. In Egypt, some of those who tried to protect the Coptic Christians in the streets were Muslims. And those of us who support Israel as a Jewish state, even though we may be secularists, do so because it is unrealistic to think the rights of Jews in that region would be respected in any other way.
Let us pray for the day when religion once again becomes a private matter between individuals and their Creator.
Saint Dominic Presiding Over an Auto De Fe by Pedro Berruguete, 1475. The scene is slightly anachronistic since Dominic died ten years before the Inquisition began. However the order he founded, the Dominicans, was put in charge of the slaughter in Spain, and besides, Dominic murdered many a heretic in France in his time. It's my opinion that the Inquisition depleted Spanish culture permanently, consuming it with hatred while the rest of Europe was engaged in the Renaissance. Click on the picture for a closer look.