Recently I've been calling attention to the fact that Erik Paulsen is an extremely active and devout participant in his Missouri Synod Lutheran church. That church has a number of stupefyingly bigoted beliefs. And so I've called upon Erik Paulsen to clarify his point of view on some of his church's most odious positions.
In so doing, I emphasize that I have no quarrel with Lutherans; I wish them well and have never participated in any institution which accuses them of devil worship. That said, a commenter today attacked my patriotism for my previous blogpost, due to my supposed use of religion to divide people. (My inner North Korean was a bit on edge, for a moment there.)
In other words, Erik Paulsen can--for decades--happily participate in an institution which proudly proclaims the most buck-toothed hatred of the Catholic church--but I am an America-hater for arguing on behalf of tolerance and moderation. The commenter elsewhere quotes President Reagan: In all quarters and at all times, we must teach tolerance and denounce racism, anti-Semitism, and all ethnic or religious bigotry wherever they exist as unacceptable evils. But a commenter here left a clear statement of ethnic bigotry just the other day--and no Republican commenter issued a peep of condemnation.
What if Erik Paulsen had for many years shown passionate commitment to a non-religious institution committed (in its self-assessment) to improving America, and that among that organization's many commitments, it called for gay people to apologize and for adamantly rejecting the discoveries of evolutionary theory. Were this the case, my criticism of Paulsen--and my request for clarification from the candidate--would be unchanged. Religion is an incidental, irrelevant aspect of this dispute. Some commenters seem to be arguing 'Of course Paulsen doesn't believe this rubbish--it's his friggin' religion ferchrisakes!' And they're angry at me for treating his religious convictions just as I would any other belief of his. That makes no sense to me.
The United States Congress makes many important decisions on the funding of scientific research, the treatment of gay Americans, etc. Were we to learn that one candidate in this race believes in the lunacy of creationism, such a revelation should be considered disqualifying, imho. That's why engaged citizens should press Erik Paulsen for clarification on whether he supports or opposes some of his church's most bizarre errors.
Paulsen has a deep and abiding commitment to an institution that--to provide just one example--despises the Catholic church. Ashwin Madia has expressed no such disturbing commitment. So of course the follow-up questions get directed to Erik Paulsen. No candidate is required to announce a religious affiliation, and I've been clear in stating my own view that I assess the candidate, not the religion. If I ask a candidate her religion and she balks, I can sincerely respect that. (I don't believe morality comes from religion, in any case.) If a candidate does express fealty to some specific religion, I'm going to ask follow-up questions if I learn the candidate's church has wacky views. (That's not a double-standard.) It puzzles me that my Republican readers have such difficulty digesting this point.