In her Washington Post opinion column, The Spirited Atheist, Susan Jacoby reflects upon the “billions of words” published in newspapers, blogs, and articles about Obama’s religion.  Arguing that “there is nothing ordinary, or traditional in American politics, about subjecting a president’s private faith to this kind of scrutiny” (John F. Kennedy’s Catholicism, she says, became a non-issue after his election), Jacoby concludes thus:

There is a tendency to assume that the unprecedented attention paid to Obama’s religion is almost entirely the result of his being biracial, having a foreign-sounding name, and having had a father who was born a Muslim (although both of his parents were apparently atheists). I think that this un-American attempt to peer into a president’s soul has been enabled by both religious liberals and religious conservatives in the media and politics.

When many religious liberals jumped onto the faith-based bandwagon that authorized public spending for social programs animated by private faith–when they spoke and acted as though the only thing undesirable about a cozy relationship between faith and government was that the wrong kind of faith might make its way into politics–they set the stage for what is happening now. On the day John McCain and Obama agreed to a debate moderated by Pastor Rick Warren, they also paved the way for the inquisition Obama is undergoing now. The president made the mistake of thinking he could bow down to this violation of the spirit of the Constitution during the campaign but would be let alone about matters of private faith after the election, as so many previous presidents have been. What he underestimated was the profound erosion of devotion to the separation of church and state that had already occured.

Read the entire article here.