Yair Rosenberg writes at Tablet magazine on the double-standard for invoking religion in the public square of American life:
Consider the following statement: “I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do. My faith informs me about how to take care of the vulnerable, of how to make sure that people have a chance in life.” It’s a fairly anodyne sentiment. But when Rep. Paul Ryan said these words in response to a moderator’s query during October’s vice presidential debate, the reaction was anything but mild.
“That’s a shocking answer—a mullah’s answer, what those scary Iranian ‘Ayatollahs’ [Ryan] kept referring to when talking about Iran would say as well,” exclaimed The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik. “Ryan was rejecting secularism itself, casually insisting, as the Roman Catholic Andrew Sullivan put it, that ‘the usual necessary distinction between politics and religion, between state and church, cannot and should not exist.’ ”
But now consider this statement, uttered by another American politician: “If we leave our values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation together for centuries and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel—the majority of great reformers in American history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their faith and their values dictated it.”