“‘Churches have a responsibility to avoid partisan entrapment, just as political parties have a duty not to attempt to entrap them,'” said the Rev. Stephen J. Sidorak, Jr. executive director of the Christian Conference of Connecticut. Frances Grandy Taylor of The Hartford Courant reports on the many prominent church leaders (including the conservative and Bush-tied Southern Baptist Convention director, Richard Land), who have condemned the Bush-Cheney campaign’s tactic to enlist church support. Sidorak called it a “‘troubling development,'” that would jeopardize the separation of church and state–the intent of which, he said, wasn’t to keep the church out of public life but to prevent manipulation of the church by the state.

“The Taliban were not fighting Western culture, but traditional Afghan culture. Why forbid owning songbirds? Why ban kites? The rationale is common to all forms of fundamentalism: this world exists to prepare believers for salvation. The state’s role is not to ensure social justice and the rule of law, but to create opportunities — even through coercion — for believers to find salvation.” Olivier Roy, author of Globalized Islam, writes about purity, Islamic evangelism and fundamentalism as teenage rebellion, in Pakistan’s Daily Times.

“‘I think the Democrats are going to have to affirm that we all need to talk to God and ask, “Are we your children too, or are you only claiming the right wing?”‘” Kevin Eckstrom, of the Religion News Service, gives yet another run-down of Dems trying to bridge the “‘God gap’ that puts frequent church-goers in the GOP column and paints Democrats as snidely secular.” A more useful investigation might look at who coined the “gap” cliche, who promoted it and how many repetitions it required before becoming accepted fact.