January 10, 2004


Howard Dean Gets Religion: Is Dean's newfound religious conviction sincere? Shmuley thinks not--and can prove it. (Shmuley Boteach, BeliefNet)

[I] know that Howard Dean hasn't sincerely found G-d, and here's how.

From time immemorial philosophers have debated what the primary determinant of religious faith is. How do we know when someone's religious conviction is sincere? Some say it is evidenced by a love of G-d's creatures. But I have met legions of confirmed atheists who are sincere humanitarians and lovers of the human family. Others argue that it is martyrdom and a readiness to lay down one's life for G-d. But suicide bombers--who are as distant from G-d as Hugh Hefner is from fidelity--die for their "god" every day of the week. Still others argue that faith is judged principally by ritual observance, but we all know religious people who are devout church- or synagogue-goers but who may not be ethical in business.

Which brings us to this conclusion. The most accurate standard in judging people's attachment to G-d is the extent to which they hate evil and fight against it. Secular humanists can be good people, but they usually find some way of excusing the actions of a Chairman Mao or a Marshall Stalin. A man as enlightened as George Bernard Shaw called Hitler a great man, and look how many people on the left--honest and good in their daily lives--object to the war in Iraq and find compelling reasons why Saddam should have been left in power. They may love good people, but they don't hate evil people. The phrase "hating the sin but not the sinner" applies only to sins where the crime is not heinous. Something as horrible as murder cannot be purged from the sinner. They become one with their crime.

But the truly religious hate murderers because they see them as the arch-enemies of the G-d who created life. They despise the heartless because they are the opponents of the G-d who created love. A person who is sincerely attached to G-d will manifest his or her faith first and foremost in loathing cruelty and abhorring mercilessness.

If you don't hate Kim Jong Il, who is starving his people; if you don't loathe the Klan for killing innocent black children; if you are not filled with odium at the muttawa'a, the Saudi religious police who in March, 2002, allowed fifteen high school girls to burn to death rather than be allowed to escape without their head coverings, you may still be decent, but you have a very weak relationship with G-d.

Thus the book of Proverbs declares, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil," and King David declared regarding the pitiless, "I have hated them with a deep loathing; they are as enemies to me."

Whatever virtue Howard Dean may possess, a hatred of murderers is not one of them.

Howard Dean's heart is so filled with hatred of George Bush, John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney and Tom DeLay, he doesn't have room to hate Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il, and Osama bin Laden.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 10, 2004 7:40 AM

I'm still working on the theory that he doesn't care much one way or the other, but that the structure of the Democratic party and primaries, this year in particular, drives candidates to the left and he's the most easily driven.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 10, 2004 10:15 AM

Or, rather, now it seems it's a race between Clark and Dean who can most easily be driven the farthest left.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 10, 2004 10:17 AM