Today's New York Times carries a lengthy op-ed by Ross Douthat titled Divided by God. He says in part:
In 2012, we finally have a presidential field whose diversity mirrors the diversity of American Christianity as a whole.....
This diversity is not necessarily a strength. The old Christian establishment — ... [the] Roman Catholic Church as well as the major Protestant denominations ... helped bind a vast and teeming nation together. It was the hierarchy, discipline and institutional continuity of mainline Protestantism and later Catholicism that built hospitals and schools, orphanages and universities, and assimilated generations of immigrants. At the same time, the kind of “mere Christianity” ... that the major denominations shared frequently provided a kind of invisible mortar for our culture and a framework for our great debates.
Today, that religious common ground has all but disappeared.
And the inescapability of religious polarization — whether it pits evangelicals against Mormons, the White House against the Catholic Church, or Rick Santorum against the secular press — during an election year that was expected to be all about the economy is a sign of what happens to a deeply religious country when its theological center cannot hold.The full article is worth a read.