Courting the lifestyle left, free-thinking "Da Vinci Vote"

It's a rare thing to watch a journalist stick his pen directly into a vein and say precisely what he is thinking, but I suspect that is what San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford did a few days ago with his amazing rant titled "Is Your Religion Unsanitary? Is God telling you to love war? Loathe gays? Restrict women? Join the godless throngs now!" This thing throws some ink at every base there is to cover, from weak but sympathetic liberal believers to courageous PBS prophets. And, of course, its primary goal is to slash away at the obvious -- traditional believers in ancient faiths.

Here's a little taste:

Why, furthermore, must I think that if there is a God he must be, well, a male, and an angry misogynistic homophobic Republican male, at that, one with a thing for guns and trucks and repressed Catholic priests?

Why can I not, say, reignite the feminine divine in this exhausted, macho world? Would that really be so horrible? So confusing? Could it possibly be worse than now, what with all the hate and fear and pious finger pointing? The answer is shockingly clear: You can.

It is not too late. You can heed the call, make the change, intervene today in a hardcore religious person's desperate life, present them with a new way, a fresh path, introduce them to their own personal Jesus: themselves.

I bring this up for two reasons. First of all, "The Da Vinci Code" has been up there in the bestseller ether for some time now. This anything goes spirituality is hot, and not just on Oprah.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush is trying to decide how to handle those awkward fundamentalists (or is it evangelicals?) who expect him to be consistent.

So there's an election coming up and politicos on both sides have religious decisions to make.

So if there is a "pew gap," is there a "neopagan gap"? Who wants the "Da Vinci Vote"?

Now imagine you are Sen. John Kerry. Do you want Morford and company on your side? I mean, when the camera lights are turned on for the mainstream news crews? This is the flip side, so to speak, of Bush's problem. Except this is not a problem if no one is covering the story.

Where is the coverage of the religious left? Why not openly cover how the candidates seek or ignore the "Da Vinci Vote"?

Why not? There is a problem. Fred Edwords, editorial director of the American Humanist Association, put it this way in an interview I did with him not that long ago:

"The Republican Party wants to be the party of God," said Edwords. "But it's just as clear that Democrats don't want to stand up and say they are the godless party. They have to keep using religious language, even though that may make some of us secularists uncomfortable. What Democrats have to say is that their religion is broader and more inclusive and more tolerant. . . .

"We know they have to do that. It just doesn't pay to do politics while wearing atheism on your sleeve."

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