October 2, 2011
"Since Roe vs. Wade, religion and politics have gotten ever more entwined. Instead, we should move on to the truly magical word: American.
Because I wrote a book with "Atheist" in the subtitle and I go on political TV shows to hawk that book, well-groomed meat puppets frequently ask me why politicians like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are saying bugnutty Christian stuff.
I have an idea why these politicians have gone all religious, but I haven't found a way to explain it in a sound bite, which is why I'm writing this. I think the whole problem comes down to the word "Christian" and what it has come to mean in my lifetime.
Christian used to be a throwaway word. People didn't used to use it much. People didn't start self-labeling or getting labeled Christian until the last part of the 20th century. Before that, you might identify as a Baptist, or a Southern Baptist or a Methodist. But there wasn't one identifier that put you in a fold with all the other believers.
In fact, every religious cult was afraid of every other religious cult. The "bugnutty Pentecostals didn't want the bugnutty Methodists to have too much power. There was no "Christian nation" for the simple reason that the Christians were afraid of one another. America was founded on Christians not trusting each other, and they sometimes seemed more willing to reach out to the godless than to someone from another sect."