Kerry’s God problem

Kerry’s God problem

: David Brooks says today that John Kerry has a God problem — but, remarkably, Brooks deals with only one side of the problem and completely ignores the other.

Brooks says that Bill Clinton (who mentions his doubts about religion as a young man at the start of his autobiography) “understands the role religion actually plays in modern politics. He knows Americans want to be able to see their leaders’ faith.”

And Clinton seems to understand, as many Democrats do not, that a politician’s faith isn’t just about litmus test issues like abortion or gay marriage. Many people just want to know that their leader, like them, is in the fellowship of believers. Their president doesn’t have to be a saint, but he does have to be a pilgrim. He does have to be engaged, as they are, in a personal voyage toward God….

John Kerry doesn’t seem to get this. Many of the people running the Democratic Party don’t get it either.

A recent Time magazine survey revealed that only 7 percent of Americans feel that Kerry is a man of strong religious faith. That’s a catastrophic number…. They should be doing everything they can to change that perception, because unless more people get a sense of Kerry’s faith, they will feel no bond with him and they will be loath to trust him with their vote.

Yet his campaign does nothing. Kerry talks about jobs one week and the minimum wage the next, going about his wonky way, each day as secular as the last.

I don’t disagree with any of that. We are not quite so religious a nation as Europeans like to think, but we do want to know where candidates stand on God — not too strong, not too weak, just right.

But Brooks completely ignores Kerry’s specific problem with religion: He’s Catholic, man. He’s pro-choice. He’s stuck between the rock upon whom Jesus built his church and a hard place. If he turns all religious and Catholic, liberal and women voters will fear he’ll go soft on choice. If he stands up to the church on abortion and gay rights, among other issues — as he well should, if he could — he will unleash a Vatican fatwa against him, for Catholic bishops already have proven they’ll mix church and state and try to get Catholics to vote against Catholics who don’t parrot what they say. Brooks says none of this. Does he have no editors?