Jonathan Chait got the ball rolling from the left wing elitists when he attacked Jack Conway's Aqua Buddha ad against Rand Paul when he wrote that he had sympathy for Paul. Many of us objected to this for many reasons, but how does Chait answer the criticisms? He makes shit up. Here's his defense of Paul:
Is Rand Paul misleading the electorate about his religion? Sure. But he's not running on a religious platform. It's Conway who's making religion an issue. I think an atheist, which is what I'm petty sure Paul is, ought to be able to run for office without having his belief system publicly interrogated.
Is he this naive about our current political system? When hasn't a Democrat's religion been question? John Kennedy's Catholicism was a big issue in 1960. The question of his electability because of his religious beliefs was a central question in that election. And since Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed injected religion into our mainstream political discourse beginning in the 1980s, it's only gotten much, much worse.
Chait admits that Rand Paul is probably lying about his belief in religion -- which I might agree with, but then he insists that even an atheist should be allowed to run for office. I agree with that completely -- except for one thing: Republicans don't believe in that assessment. Rand Paul doesn't believe that assessment. Republicans throw religion into every part of their party and into every debate we have, but for some reason others are forbidden to bring up the issue of religious values. Either Chait hasn't been following Baby Paul's campaign or is ignorant about what Rand has publicly stated about his views on religion. Paul did make religion part of the debate after he trumpeted his Christian faith -- evidently in contrast with Conway -- back in May, via Sarah Posner:
Appearing on The Brody File, Rand Paul, who believes that portions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act need "further discussion" and may violate private business owners' First Amendment rights, said that we wouldn't really need laws in this country if everyone were a good Christian:
I'm a Christian. We go to the Presbyterian Church. My wife’s a Deacon there and we’ve gone there ever since we came to town. I see that Christianity and values is the basis of our society. . . . 98% of us won’t murder people, won’t steal, won’t break the law and it helps a society to have that religious underpinning. You still need to have the laws but I think it helps to have a people who believe in law and order and who have a moral compass or a moral basis for their day to day life.
Although Paul attends a mainline Protestant church, in his comments one might hear an echo of Christian Reconstructionism. RD contributor Julie Ingersoll, an expert on Christian Reconstructionism, once described it to me this way: "Reconstructionists claim to have an entirely integrated, logically defensible Christian worldview. Reconstructionism addresses everything you have to think about." In other words, as a society we should follow (preferable) biblical law, and dispense with all but a small handful of civil laws.