From The Economist:
In 1782, a French immigrant named Hector St John de Crèvecoeur predicted that America was destined to be a much more secular place than Europe. In America “religious indifference” was rapidly becoming the rule, and “the strict modes of Christianity as practised in Europe” were being lost. “Persecution, religious pride, the love of contradiction, are the food of what the world commonly calls religion,” he argued. In America, their absence meant that religious passion “burns away in the open air, and consumes without effect.”
Suffice to say that de Crèvecoeur has not found a place alongside Alexis de Tocqueville as an anatomist of the American soul. In Europe religion doesn’t rise to the level of burning away “in the open air”; in fact, it barely smoulders. Most European politicians would rather talk about sexually transmitted diseases than their own faith in God. The hugely bulky European constitution doesn’t mention Christianity.
America’s policymakers, by contrast, don’t seem to talk about anything else. Look at the issues that have dominated the past week: the Supreme Court’s decision to take up an abortion case, George Bush’s threat to veto a bill on stem cells, even the tortuous debate about filibusters. Religion is at the heart of each one…