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This election season has only just come to its feverish crescendo, but some are already making big-picture analyses of the past year. Eric Gorski of the Associated Press advances the interesting thesis that the big loser in 2008 was religion :

With a few exceptions, whatever seemed odd or fringe trumped serious discussion about how candidates’ religious beliefs shape their approach to governance.

As the race nears its end, scholars and religious leaders are using terms like “new low” and “embarrassing” to describe how religious beliefs were distorted and picked over, while candidates were asked to mount theological defenses for their respective faiths or be held accountable for the views of others.

“Religion is reduced to the exotic or to morality bumper stickers, or just a trump card for identity politics,” said Eric Gregory, an assistant professor of religion at Princeton University. “The focus becomes buzzwords or personal piety rather than the way religion impacts issues.”



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