Senator Barack Obama:

“Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. . . . Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality.”

Jerome Copulsky of Virginia Tech responds at “Sightings,” a publication of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago:

“This sort of translation, however, is no easy feat. If one maintains that his religion is universal, he may not see how his values are to be regarded as merely ‘religion-specific.’ How do you translate into secular terms religious truths that are not accessible to unassisted or unreformed human reason?  If faith has the transformative effect that Obama and others claim that it does, wouldn’t some reasons be opaque to those whose hearts have not yet been turned? Who determines the ‘common reality’ that we all share? Indeed, the very notion of a ‘religiously neutral’ common reality is subject to serious contention.”

WTF? Only to fanatics. Or to those who’ve forgotten the lessons of the Thirty Years’ War and the English Civil War.

Some Virginia fundamentalist Christians discovered “common reality” when they persuaded Hollymead Elementary School in Albemarle County to distribute their Bible School flyers—and then went ballistic when the school, acting in common fairness, allowed some pagans to distribute theirs as well. Details at Americans United and additional perspectives at Stylos—follow the comments too. (Hat tip to Ed Brayton.)