Bat Boy, R.I.P.

Bat boy!

It was with great sadness that I learned of the demise of one of my most trusted news sources, the inscrutable Weekly World News. The New York Times reports that the venerable supermarket staple is soon to shutting down the press.

This is a great loss to the world checkout line journalism. Weekly World News always brought a little realism to a venue overrun by guides to fashion, beauty, and romance. As I stood in line, placing my divider between my items and the person’s in front, it always brought comfort to know that WWN was there to balance out the “101 Ways to Please Your Man” articles of the womens mags with a good dose of “Elvis found alive in Peru!”

For the newspaper which brought us Bat Boy and that crazy alien which endorsed U.S. presidents,the sun has now set, leaving those of us in the checkout lines to Sodoku books, sex guides, and Brangelina. For our serious news, we must now turn to The New York Times.

Politics, religion, and a funny word called hermeneutics

What benefit can examining a political candidate’s religious beliefs have for voters? Not long ago, I wrote a post on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s comments regarding her self-described Christian beliefs. A reader named Ron commented:

In fact, that part of the Constitution coincides with my personal interest about the religion of a politician. All I want to know about a politician’s religion is that they aren’t going to favor one religion over another and that they aren’t going to favor believers over non-believers or vice versa. In other words, I want to know they respect the Constitutional separation of church and state. In other words, I personally apply no religious test for public office. Nor do I apply a gender test, a race test, or any other test not related to the candidates character or position on the issues.

The [article about Clinton’s religious views] is unimportant to me. Strike that. Actually I think it’s too bad it was printed. The subject is what is unimportant to me.

Why indeed would a candidate’s religious beliefs be a legitimate topic of discussion if all of the above conditions that Ron proposed are met? If the candidate doesn’t give extra favors to one religion over another, why should such information belong in the public debate?

Here’s one reason: hermeneutics — a $20 word for the interpretation of texts. And how a person approaches a religious text says a lot about how they might interpret other texts. If a candidate approaches the Bible with a heterodox hermeneutic, it wouldn’t be a stretch to suspect that this will be the way he or she approaches the Constitution of the United States.

If Sen. Clinton sees the Bible as a “living, breathing, document” subject to the winds of change, she’s likely to read the Constitution the same way. People tend to interpret texts of a doctrinal nature — be they civic or religious — in the the same manner. Therefore, when we interpret our politicians, analyzing their own religious interpretations can indeed be helpful.

Blogs for Fred Gear

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