American Samizdat

Wednesday, July 11, 2007. *
The 2008 presidential election is probably the first in American history that has spawned a veritable faith and politics industry. Entire non-profit organizations, university departments, think tanks, polling operations, and web divisions at prestigious East coast newspapers, have marshaled their resources in an attempt to make sense of the role that religion will play in the run for the White House. The industry is immense. Its wares displayed on every boulevard, sidewalk and back alley of the mass media. Its potential for influencing public opinion is considerable.

The faith and politics industry also has a variety of “applied” or “hands-on” subsidiaries. There are the lobbyists who work for religious special interest groups. There are demographers who conduct surveys for any client willing to cough up the fee. There is the very lucrative traffic in what I call “religious imaging.” By this I refer to the work of political consultants--an astonishing percentage of whom are graduates of theological seminaries--who advise and often rehabilitate candidates who have somehow drifted off (religious) message.

And did I mention that the industry is completely deregulated? That is to say, there are no standards for entrance, let alone excellence. No one seems to be interested in the identity of the employees or employers in the industry. It doesn’t hold annual conventions in a big, deep carpet-y Hotel where everyone gets to expense their meals back to Headquarters. In fact, no one seems to have much to say about the industry as a whole. It floats under the radar. Which is strange because as regards religion and politics the Industry is the radar.

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posted by Trevor Blake at 6:57 AM
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