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Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party

Hitchens: Karl Rove an Atheist

According to ex-liberal neo-con Bush administration buddy Christopher Hitchens, Karl Rove is an atheist. Here's an excerpt from his interview with New York magazine's Boris Kachka:

Has anyone in the Bush administration confided in you about being an atheist? Well, I don't talk that much to them--maybe people think I do. I know something which is known to few but is not a secret. Karl Rove is not a believer, and he doesn't shout it from the rooftops, but when asked, he answers quite honestly. I think the way he puts it is, "I'm not fortunate enough to be a person of faith."

What must Bush make of that?
I think it's false to say that the president acts as if he believes he has God's instructions. Compared to Jimmy Carter, he's nowhere. He's a Methodist, having joined his wife's church in the end. He also claims that Jesus got him off the demon drink. He doesn't believe it. His wife said, "If you don't stop, I'm leaving and I'm taking the kids." You can say that you got help from Jesus if you want, but that's just a polite way of putting it in Texas.

While I can't say Team Bush's hypocrisy is exactly surprising, their cynicism remains something to behold. It suggests that to Rove at least, the Bush administration's promotion of the Christian fundamentalist agenda was pure and simple a political gambit without much belief in it at the core of the Bush administration. It must have made it all the more painful for Bush to throw Harriet Miers overboard when evangelicals objected to her nomination because of some ambiguity over exactly how hard right her views on social issues were.

But maybe the Christian evangelical surge in the Republican Party isn't all bad. One of the most interesting moments during Thursday night's presidential debate was when born-again Christian Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (who later in the night, along with Sam Brownback and Tom Tancredo, said he didn't believe in evolution) was asked what he thought about global warming:

JIM VANDEHEI, POLITICO.COM: Governor Huckabee, this question comes from Curtis Waldman (sp) from Boca Raton, Florida. Thousands of reputable scientists have concluded with almost certainty that human activity is responsible for the warming of the Earth. Do you believe global warming exists?

GOV. HUCKABEE: The most important thing about global warming is this: Whether humans are responsible for the bulk of climate change is going to be left to the scientists, but it's all of our responsibility to leave this planet in better shape for the future generations than we found it. It's the old Boy Scout rule of the campsite; you leave the campsite in better shape than you found it.

I believe that even our responsibility to God means that we have to be good stewards of this Earth, be good caretakers of the natural resources that don't belong to us; we just get to use them. We have no right to abuse them.

Huckabee's concept of "creation care" is a growing force in religious circles: many fundamentalists are starting to realize that being loyal to God means not destroying His creation. Indeed, polls show that 70 percent or more of evangelical Christians believe global warming is a "serious threat" to the planet and that pollution is a sin.

On Earth Day (which fell on a Sunday this year), the number one activity that the Sierra Club recommended on its web site to its members was to reach out to area churches. And it published this Earth Day sermon guide (interestingly, almost 50 percent of Sierra Club members - that's more than 400,000 people attend traditional worship services on a regular basis).

You could see this creation care spirit not just in Huckabee's global warming response, but also in McCain's response when asked whether or not he believed in evolution. He answered with a straight yes, but went on to talk about it in a way that connected his belief in evolution with his belief in God:

SEN. MCCAIN: I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.

What a beautiful image! And it gives one hope that in the unlikely event McCain becomes president, he'll prove that one can be a conservative Republican of faith and not be a complete idiot 100 percent of the time (he'll keep it to 90 percent).

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