The New York Times and the Boston Globe are in the midst of major series this week on the preferential treatment that religion — and especially evangelical Christianity — are receiving during the Bush years. The Times series, by Diana Henriques, is online here. The latest installment of the Globe series, a team effort, is here.
Of the two, I think the Globe’s is more timely and more disturbing, dealing as it does with White House support of Christian organizations that provide foreign aid. The image is that of the ugly American, overtly attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity, and making more enemies for the United States through their blundering arrogance.
The Times series details an entirely different phenomenon — how religious organizations are wrapping themselves in the First Amendment to run roughshod over local zoning laws, to violate protections for sick employees, and to extend their tax breaks to profitable ventures such as housing.
Yes, I’m a big fan of the First Amendment, but it would be as if a newspaper publisher claimed that freedom of the press exempted him from having to follow OSHA guidelines.
We tend to be so focused on the disaster in Iraq that we often forget that George W. Bush and the Republican Congress are obliterating the separation of church and state. The Globe and Times series are useful reminders of that.