By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

With God on their side

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.

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Unfortunate juxtaposition


Little people, wee hours


  1. mike_b1

    You think it’s a problem now, Dan, just wait until The Globe gets bought … by the Christian Right.

  2. Anonymous


  3. Anonymous

    no comment on the use of a b/w stock photo as main front page art on Monday? Nevermind the topic, that was mind boggling.

  4. Anonymous

    He’s obliterating the separation of church and state and the presumption of innocence in our criminal justice system. What a one-two punch against our country’s traditions.

  5. metallicaMobes

    Don’t forget that “separation of church and state” appear a total of zero times in the Constitution… not that this matters or anything.”Congress shall make now law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”Hmmm…

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Metallica — Good to have you back. Here’s your lesson in constitutional law for the day. I hope you’ll come to understand that notion that the First Amendment doesn’t provide for the separation of church and state is false.

  7. metallicaMobes

    The First Amendment was worded the way it was deliberately. I know Madison and Hamilton, Washington, Jay and the rest of the Federalists were wary of making an official religion, but the way the Constitution is actually worded, we cannot conclude that there is no room for religion in any inch of the public square. Bush isn’t making Christianity the official religion- I think it’s safer to say that the Catholic and Christian charity groups are the most established and run the most effective operations, which plays the most important role in funding decisions.

  8. mike_b1

    And I think it’s safe to say that Bush simply doles out money to whatever groups support him. Bush thinks the Constitution is an old wooden ship.

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