Senator Santorum last Sunday assured us that Senator Lott could not be a racist, as he is a man of deep faith and has had many prayer breakfasts with Senator Santorum. Again and again, we are told that someone who is deeply religious cannot be a bad person, and that a bad person must not be deeply religious.
People of faith are not always bad people. Faith played a major role in ending slavery, as a quick chorus of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” reveals. Many Christians of faith concealed Jews from the Holocaust. Many people of great faith do wonderful things for other people.
However, being a person of faith does not mean that you will be a good human being. Osama Bin Laden, Torquemada and David Koresh were certainly men of deep and sincere faith.
Many Japanese before Hiroshima had deep faith in the divinity of their Emperor. The Heaven’s Gate cultists had so much faith that they committed mass suicide. There are a lot of former Catholic priests who had faith that God would forgive them their trespasses into the pants of young boys.
The EgyptAir 990 pilot said “I put my faith in the hands of God,” right before he flew the plane into the ocean killing everyone aboard. Trent Lott’s own Southern Baptist Convention was founded with a deep faith that God was a firm supporter of slavery. The medieval Crusaders were certainly men of deep faith. Their faith was deeper even than the ankle-deep soup of Jewish, Muslim and Crusader blood and gore which they created and waded through while taking Jerusalem and slaughtering everyone in the city.
The Frenchmen who massacred over ten thousand Protestants on St. Bartholomew’s Day had plenty of faith that they were doing God’s work. The Patriarch Abraham had so much faith that he was about to slit his own son’s throat before the Voice he was hearing told him not to. The pagan Carthaginians had faith too, that the babies they tossed into the sacrificial inferno would please their god Baal. The Aztecs had faith that the thousands of victims which they sacrificed to the sun god would give him strength to save the universe from destruction.
The historical record indicates someone who possesses deep faith is not necessarily going to go clean the sores of lepers, and might in fact decide that that God wants him to kill infidels. Faith is no more an indicator of good character than good grooming is, or silver hair, or well-shined shoes, or brown eyes, or physical fitness.
It is reason that makes men civilized. Perhaps it is time to admit as much.