Faith vs. Religiosity: A column by Anna Quindlen

In last week's Newsweek, Anna Quindlen wrote what I thought was a good, tho not perfect column on the American right's efforts to claim sole ownership of Christianity. While I don't have a link to Newsweek, her syndicated column can be read at

Quindlen distinguishes faith from religiosity, which leads people to close e-mails with "he was not only going to mention God, he was going to capitalize the G because he knew it made liberals like me crazy."

Along the way, she dispenses with the so-called "worship gap" poll from the Pew Research Center For The People & The Press that made the rounds in the press last fall. I couldn't find the exact poll on the Internet, but there is an article from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life that mirrors Quindlen's assertions.

I think both columns are worth a read. It rings with my experience. Some of the most liberal people I know are people of deep Christian faith and some of the most conservative people I know are simple deists, which is only a step from atheism. I've also known conservative Christians and liberal atheists.

By the way, although I think Quindlen's article is worth reading, I AM NOT intending to attack anyone's (LISNewster's) faith here or accuse them of simple "religiosity." I do think that most of what passes for "faith in Christ" in our political life IS simple religiosity. I think that's dangerous and poisonious to true Christian faith. As Mel Gibson once said, "The number one cause of athesism today is Christians."


I agree, many liberals are strong Christians. I was--i.e., a liberal and a Christian. I am now a Conservative, but my faith hasn't changed. If Bush keeps spending wildly on programs to keep us healthy, wealthy and wise, I may have to switch back, but not until after he defeats Kerry who can't decide which side of the bread to butter.

However, it was a bit lonely. . . I haven't read her article, but it sounds like she has set up a straw man so she could knock him down easily--just based on your description.

Thank you for drawing my attention to this piece.
Quindlen is quite correct to point out that there are people with deep religious faith among liberals. In fact, I left a denomination that was being taken by its leadership in a strongly liberal direction, both politically and theologically. I don't doubt for a second that these leaders have a strong faith of some sort, but though we both called ourselves Christians and Presbyterians, to say that we had a common faith was either dishonest or meaningless.

I will be the first to admit that many of my fellow evangelicals oversimplify questions of faith and politics. However, if they fail to acknowledge that there are some (many?) on the left who are people of faith, then I think Quindlen oversimplifies by treating conservative Christians as if they are all of a piece. She cites television preachers who claim a direct line to God as if they were in some way representative of all evangelicals. In my view, the "name it and claim it" preachers are a cancer on the body of Christ (No wish to offend brothers & sisters in Christ, but I must say it.) Anyone claiming to receive inspired revelation in the present is seriously misguided at least. I also think she fails to acknowledge just how anti-religion many (not all) on the left are. Not simply in favor of separation of church & state, but against all manifestations of religion whatsoever. There might even be some folks with that view posting to LISNews.

Daniel, you are correct about some (many?) conservatives not being religious. Keith Burgess-Jackson is a strong and articulate advocate of conservatism, but he is also a non-believer (he he prefers not to be called an atheist). In fact, I'm pretty certain that the majority of bloggers I cite in my first journal entry would not profess any religious faith.

Quindlen writes: ...I get the uncomfortable feeling he's doing what Mel Gibson has done with his movie: trading on God for personal gain. The modern version of 30 pieces of silver. Quindlen may have some inside knowledge of Gibson's motives in making his movie. If she doesn't, then I have to consider this statement as slanderous. She seems to be inferring from the facts that Gibson made The Passion and that he is making a lot of money that he made the movie solely in order to make a lot of money. That is an unwarranted inference. It is possible, and it does occur, that people take actions that they are deeply passionate about and that they also expect to profit materially from. Following Quindlen's reasoning, we should begrudge Bible publishers a profit on what they sell.

Forgive me if it seems like I used your journal as an occasion for a rant. I really do appreciate your fair-mindedness and civility, and I hope you will tell me if you fell I have abused the comment privilege in what is after all your journal. :-)

Hi Chuck,I don't think you are abusing my journal and you're right -- Quindlen's remarks about Mel Gibson seem to be either mindreading or unfair. That's one of the reasons I said the article wasn't perfect. I was looking at the underlying issue she addresses.I appreciate your fairmindedness and civility as well. I also you appreciate looking at the sources I comment on.Take care!Daniel

It's a short article, so I hope you get the chance to read it. Be forewarned that 1) She says some unkind things about Mel Gibson I don't go along with and 2) Some of ChuckB's points are well taken.The central issue of religiosity vs. faith is still a valid point though. I think Jesus himself makes reference to it in Matthew 7:21-2321 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?'23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.'I AM NOT saying that Jesus concurs fully eith Anna Quindlen, only that the forms of religion (weekly churchgoing, public displays of 10 commandments, national prayer breakfasts, etc) are not sufficient by themselves to assure eternal life.

Subscribe to Comments for "Faith vs. Religiosity: A column by Anna Quindlen"