America is riven today by a 'God gulf' of distrust, dividing churchgoing Republicans from relatively secular Democrats. A new Great Awakening is sweeping the country, with Americans increasingly telling pollsters that they believe in prayer and miracles, while only 28 percent say they believe in evolution. All this is good news for Bush Republicans, who are in tune with heartland religious values, and bad news for Dean Democrats who don't know John from Job.
From an email to Nicholas Kristof:
Great article on American religion. You are the only columnist I know of leading on this most critical of issues.
I think you've skirted, however, a second great schism, between the "Yahwites" and the "Jesites". Both call themselves Christian, but they are as different as the Old and New Testaments -- and equally irreconcilable.
The Yahwites worship Yahweh, and draw their theology from the Old Testament -- a quintessentially Republican document. The Jesites follow a blend of the teachings of Paul and Christ, a doctrine that is more comfortably Democrat or even secular humanist. Mainstream Prostestant and Catholic churches, now in decline, lean towards Jesism; the evangelicals tend to Yahwism.
The Yahwites are in ascendance. In their doctrine God rewards virtue with wealth, and punishes his enemies with brutal power -- sowing salt upon the fields of the dead. The Jesites, always a minority, are in retreat. In particular the teachings of Jesus are so peculiar and demanding as to be almost unattainable for most humans. Jesites are always falling short of their ideal. Frustrating and not so marketable as Yahwism.
There is only a small theological gap between the Yahwites and the Wahaabi, so it is ironic that fundamentalist Islam should see Bush as their virulent enemy. Not the first irony in history.