Satan’s Designs

Slate’s Kerry Howley mulls Rick Perry’s recent discussion of the need for spiritual warfare against Satan in the context of Campaign 2012 (she wonder if Ol’ Scratch was responsible for the sleep apnea that is now being blamed for the Texas Governor’s terrible debate performances during the primaries), and makes a point that sometimes seems to be lost on secular observers who hear such Christian Right talk and figure it makes sense if you believe in supernatural beings to begin with:

If I were the Father of Lies and looking for a good, decent country to strike down, I’m certain I’d pick Canada. But that’s the great thing about Satan—he’s a scam artist, a trickster. You can only guess at his long-term strategy. What’s ultimately disturbing about Perry is not his belief in darkness personified but the belief that he knows precisely on which side of any question Satan sits. To characterize a policy as satanic is not to make oneself open to empirical evidence about the efficacy of that policy.

No kidding. As I’ve often observed, one of the things about Barack Obama that makes the Christian Right crazy is his insistence that doubt is an essential element of genuine religious faith. Blind fidelity to a secular political agenda divinized by religious leaders–or what I’d call idolatry–is the essence of their peculiar ideology. So of course they believe they know Satan’s intentions, and are arrogant enough to think the entire metaphysical scheme of the universe revolves around their partisan politics.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.