Why then are churchgoers the likeliest to back the Iraq War? Former Navy Secretary James Webb, himself now a war critic, explains in his recent best seller "Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America," that American evangelicals are disproportionately Celtic and warlike. The Scots-Irish culture that predominates in the U.S. South and lower mid-west has always been pro-military.
But the explanation for war support among churchgoers is probably not entirely genealogical. Gallup shows that increased religious practice across several traditions, and not just among southern Evangelicals, indicates likelier support for the Iraq War.
So try this explanation. Persons of traditional religious belief, with transcendent faith and hope about eternity, have cause to be more patient with set-backs, delayed gratification, risk-taking, long-term suffering, and the prospect of distant success. They are also cognizant of the power of human sin, and appreciate the limits of the best human endeavors.
Bush, the Methodist from Texas of Scots-Irish roots, fits the "Born Fighting" stereotype of the Jacksonian war hawk. But, if Gallup is right, other types of Protestants, along with Catholics and Jews, can also understand the need for sacrifice, persistence, and a vision beyond the typical news cycles.
The third anniversary of the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein has rattled many former war supporters and confirmed the fears of war opponents. Contrary to the stereotypes, the faithful can often face the moral complexities of politics and war better than the secularist utopians.
Monday, May 01, 2006
A Piece Of The Puzzle