Monday, May 23, 2005

Biblical Knowledge Should Be Fundamental to the Fundamentalist

Yesterday, the NYTs Magazine ran a lengthy piece on my Pennsylvania Senator, Rick Santorum. While there is no doubt Santorum is a fundamentalist, and probably the most dangerous man in politics right now if you believe in privacy rights and equal protection under the law, he is a true believer and I respect that. Nevertheless, he's a dangerous force if democracy's a virtue you believe in.

Yet I caught this little tidbit from Santorum that just causes consternation, particularly since it validates my contention that a good many believers don't read what they believe is the word of God.
Santorum is not a reader of Scripture -- "I've never read the Bible cover to cover; maybe I should have'' -- and has no passages he clings to when seeking spiritual guidance. "I'm a Catholic, so I'm not a biblical scholar. I'm not someone who has verses he can pop out. That's not how I interact with the faith.''
But earlier in the piece Michael Sokolove dredged this up from a 1999 speech at the Heritage Foundation:
''How is it possible, I wonder, to believe in the existence of God yet refuse to express outrage when his moral code is flouted?'' he asked that day. ''To have faith in God, but to reject moral absolutes?
It could be me, but how can you know God's morals if you've never read the book you said he wrote? As anyone knows, there are many different interpretations of the Bible within Catholic circles. Where did Santorum get his if he never read the book?

This is why religion, particularly a fundamentalist reading of whatever text is your poison -- or if you're Santorum, religion by miraculous absorption -- is positively septic to a vibrant, pluralistic, and democratic society.

People like Santorum want to govern according to Scripture, just don't ask them to quote it.

UPDATE: I have picked up my Bible, the revised standard version Catholic edition, and will begin reading Genesis tomorrow. Bible blogging will begin shortly afterwards, hopefully book by book.