The Two Subjects Forbidden at Dinner Tables

by Jay Nordlinger

One of the loudest culture clashes you hear is that between religious people and — what should we call them? The establishment media? I thought that the exchange between David Gregory and Michele Bachmann, on Meet the Press, was fascinating. Gregory asked, “Would God guide your decisions that you would make as president of the United States?” Well, what religious person wouldn’t pray for guidance? And it seems to me that the presidency is so tough, it would drive even the irreligious to their knees.

Bachmann duly answered, “Well, as president of the United States, I would pray. I would pray and ask the Lord for guidance. That’s what presidents have done throughout history. George Washington did. Abraham Lincoln did.”

At this point, apparently, Gregory almost wet his pants. “There’s a difference between God as a sense of comfort and safe harbor and inspiration, and God telling you to take a particular action.” It seems to me that, with these words, Gregory set a limit on religious belief and practice — drew a boundary. (Maybe I’ve misunderstood him.) You can go to God for a little boo-hooing and a Band-Aid or two. But anything else puts you in cuckoo-land. The Bible, of course, is a farce and an anathema to many. “. . . the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

(Hang on, can you quote Scripture on the Internet? Has Elena Kagan ruled on that yet?)

My other favorite religion-related moment of the campaign came when Jon Huntsman said, “I can’t say I’m overly religious.” I’m tickled by that phrase “overly religious.” I’d love to ask the governor — ex-governor — “What’s underly religious, what’s just-right religious? A mumbled script before Thanksgiving dinner or something?” Many, many Muslims object to this phrase “moderate Muslim.” I can understand the objection entirely. “Do you mean not a killer, bomber, or maimer?”

Anyway . . .