I tend to be "live and let live" when it comes to faith. I come from a multi-faith family and generally feel that whatever gives you comfort personally is fine, as long as you don't try to impose on others and disrespect their beliefs.
However, I get intensely uneasy with discussions of faith as a matter of national discourse. And that's upon which the line that Chris Matthews insists on treading. Why on earth would a current events/news talk show decide upon the topic of "What if there's no Hell"? Granted, it was the cover of Time Magazine this week, as an attention-grabbing headline for an examination of Rev. Rob Bell's feel-good message of his mega-church. But in the hands of Chris Matthews, who frequently filters his own Catholicism into his political commentary, it becomes a somewhat painful "more holier-than-thou" discussion of Jesus and beliefs.
Frankly, I don't want my media or politicians delving into the subject of whether Hell exists. It's exactly this pandering to religious beliefs that makes it possible for creationists to insist on Intelligent Design to be on par with evolution. That allows us to demonize one faith over another and create more and more divisions between us. The debate over the existence of Hell belongs in the heart of the individual and whatever religious teacher one chooses.
But I suspect that Tweety had another agenda in bringing up the topic. After giving his panel a chance to affirm their own piousness, Matthews takes an interesting tangent for anyone tired of hearing Republicans proclaim their ownership of the discussion of faith: “Why does the right wing love the Old Testament so much?”
And bless his little non-Communion receiving soul, Andrew Sullivan comes up with the answer: “Jesus loved the poor. He thought they were better than the rich.”
Amen to that.