At GR, a nice post on the MSM's sparse coverage of Senator Obama's passing references to the Bible. Here's how one newspaper quoted in the story summarized Obama's statement:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama defended his belief in same-sex civil unions March 2 by referencing Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and then implicitly criticizing those who view Romans as a binding teaching on homosexuality.
But no one seems motivated to ask Obama which passage in the Sermon on the Mount (which covers three chapters in Matthew) he feels supports his position on same-sex marriage or what weight a passage in Romans should be given if it is not "binding." My impression is that much of the press thinks that since, on the whole, conservative candidates take religion seriously, only right-wing candidates should be taken to task for their religious beliefs or have their proposed policies subjected to a religious critique. That logic doesn't hold for other issues, but no one has ever accused journalists of being consistent.
In the background is the issue that Gov. Romney was unwillingly forced to confront, the role of religion in presidential politics and, more broadly, in government and society. Garry Wills wrote a short analysis a couple of weeks ago in the New York Review of Books, "Romney and JFK: The Difference." Frankly, I don't think he gets the difference. I don't quite understand how people can claim the Constitution prescribes a secular regime in the United States in light of the Free Exercise Clause. It's this reading of secularism into the Constitution that then becomes the basis for critiquing Romney's approach and that of believers who endorse an accommodationist approach. Accommodation has its serious practical difficulties, but constitutional secularism is theoretically and historically flawed.
Jeff Sharlet in The Revealer makes the argument rebutting Wills in defense of Romney very effectively, agreeing that Romney is no JFK:
No, he's not. And he's not seeking the same voters JFK was. JFK wanted to assure Protestant Democrats -- many of them Southern evangelicals -- that his Roman Catholicism wouldn't interfere with his politics. Romney wanted to assure Protestant Republicans, especially evangelicals, that his Mormonism wouldn't interfere with his politics, but that his faith would do so, indeed. JFK spoke at a time when the old mainline Protestant establishment was still so secure in its power that secular politics were by default infused with Protestant values. Romney speaks at a time when the relationship of religion to politics is in flux. JFK promised not to upset the status quo. Now, there is no status quo. Instead, there's a fight between several different philosophies of church and state. Romney's speech was meant to make clear which side he was on.
So why don't the folks who oppose Romney's view that religion has a place at the table in public discourse and in government have a problem with Obama's religious allusions and appeals? An AP story quoted in the GR article said, "Democrat Barack Obama says he’s tired of questions about his religion." Isn't it ironic?