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Fundamentalists 51, enlightenment 48

ASK THIS | November 04, 2004

Maybe the election wasn't about terrorism, Iraq or the economy at all…at least not for many of those on the winning side.

By Barry Sussman

Q. Who speaks for the religious fundamentalists where you live? And, looking forward, what are they saying?

It's time to take fundamentalism in America off the religion pages and make it a full-fledged reporting beat. In a post-election column in The New York Times, Gary Wills noted that "many more Americans believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin's theory of evolution." And guess what: They vote.

That's one very valid-looking explanation for the Bush victory: the Bible as literal truth trumped science and the enlightenment. To his credit, in the closing days of the campaign John Kerry took this clash on frontally, saying repeatedly he believed in science and that, under him, there would be stem cell research. What happened is that science lost, fundamentalism won.

As Wills pointed out, it might be called "revenge for the Scopes trial."

In his column, Wills asked, "Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists… It is often observed that enemies come to resemble each other."

For their part, supporters of George Bush say that reporters and editors are out of touch. There's a lot of evidence for that, isn't there? So it's time to get in touch, and not with soft feature articles, either.

Washington Post
Evolution vs. creationism at the University of Georgia's College of Education in Athens.

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