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Read the April 23, 2004 RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY interview with former New York governor Mario Cuomo (D) by correspondent Lucky Severson about the controversy over John Kerry and punishing Catholic politicians who support abortion rights:
What is your view of the Vatican’s and some bishops’ attempts to get tough with pro-choice Catholic politicians?
We have to be precise about what the Vatican and the bishops are doing. First of all, in this country, not many bishops are saying anything about the political role of Catholics. Some bishops — one in John Kerry’s area — have taken the position that, in effect, a candidate for political office who happens to be a Democrat has to advocate the truths of the Catholic Church as delivered to him by his bishops. So if the bishops conclude, with the Vatican usually, that life begins at conception and therefore there can be no abortion, even to save the life of the mother, that is not only an injunction upon you as a Catholic to live a life free from abortion; it is a requirement of you as a politician that you advocate and promote that as vigorously as possible, thereby creating a unanimous view in this pluralistic society that the Catholic Church is right. Now, if that is the position, what they’re really saying is that whatever Catholic politician you elect — as a governor, as a president, as a legislator, as a judge — you’ll never be sure as to what his or her positions are, because the bishops and the Vatican could meet at any time and declare a new proposition.
The Catholic Church did not always teach that life begins at conception. St. Thomas Aquinas, Ambrose, Augustine said life begins after 40 days in the womb. At one point the Catholic Church taught the usury was a sin, etc., etc. In effect, therefore, if that is the position, then the only comfortable state for a Catholic would be a theocracy — a Catholic theocracy. Nothing else would make sense.
Do you think that other bishops will follow St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke in refusing Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights?
You don’t think this will be widespread throughout the Church?
If I’m correct, if my logic is intact, if what you’re really saying is that I, as a Catholic — and I am a Catholic, and I do have to live by the law against abortion, and the law against contraceptives, and that’s not easy, and I’ve been married in June 50 years, so I can tell you it’s not easy — and if you’re saying that I not only have to live that life as a Catholic with my wife, Mathilda, but that I have to insist on it for everybody in my pluralistic society when I, as a governor, am describing the rules by which they must live, then no one could ever vote for a Catholic without wondering what they would be required to listen to in the days that follow. Not only the truths already taught. What about the truths about to be taught? And that would make an impossible situation. Nor is it the practice, nor has it been the practice, of the Catholic Church.
They did not oppose slavery in 1865 and in the late nineteenth century, although the pope had spoken against it. They do not bring the same ardor to insisting on their position against the death penalty today. Nobody knows that better than I. I was badly mauled by people in New York State for being against the death penalty for 12 years. In all that period, the Church never spoke against it. Now they have spoken and said it’s wrong except in very few emergent situations where there is no punishment available, no prison, etc., etc. And, you know, Scalia, a Supreme Court justice, says the pope is wrong. I didn’t hear anybody say he ought to step down from the Supreme Court.
In a number of the so-called 16 “battle” states in the presidential election, the Catholic vote will be extremely important. Do you think this threat to deny Communion is becoming a political issue?
If it is a political issue, I suspect that it will not hurt John Kerry, but it may hurt the Church. And that troubles me. May I try to put it with a different emphasis? Religion is extremely important in this democracy, so important that it occupies a prime position in the Bill of Rights. Religion is defended, the right of people to hold any religion they wish: with a God, like the Hebrews, the Christians, the Muslims — they believe in a God; without a God, like the Confucians and Buddhists; or atheism, which has been declared a religion, believe it or not, in this country by the Supreme Court of the United States. Organized belief in spirituality — that’s what a religion is. One of the reasons the country was created was for me to be free to be a Catholic and you to be whatever you wish to be. In order to protect that freedom of religion, you must be careful not to intrude upon other people’s freedom of religion. For me to be protected in my right to be against abortion and against contraceptives, I have to make sure not to tread upon your right not to believe in those things, because if I can impose my religion on you, you can impose your religion on me. And so the best way to preserve the freedom of religion in this country is for government to stay away from making rules that are basically religious in nature.
Now, let’s not confuse this with a law like the law against murder, which my Catholic Church teaches me is a cardinal sin. It is, of course. But that is also something that you can justify without respect to any religion. Just as a matter of reason, to any pluralistic society that is rational, they would conclude this is a bad thing. What I am talking about are religious beliefs that are not commonly shared.
Do you think that the Republican Party will try to make this an issue with Kerry?
I think if the Republicans make it a political issue, it will blow up in their faces, really. Are you going to say to President Bush he shouldn’t be referring to his Christianity all the time? And if he does, he should be insisting that everybody live the same kind of Christian life that he lives? What would your position be as a Republican?
You don’t think that John Kerry should be denied Communion?
That is a question for the Church, not a question for the body politic. That’s a question that you decide with your church. You’re a member of the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church tells you this or that, so you as a Catholic will make up your mind what you think the rule should be, and the Church will make up its mind. I don’t think that that’s a question for the politicians. It’s a question for all the Catholics, perhaps. They will make a judgment as to whether they think it’s correct for the Church to punish John Kerry for not taking the position they wish him to take on abortion, while at the same time they’re not saying the same thing about the death penalty, they’re not saying the same thing about the war in Iraq, which the bishops said was not a just war. I don’t hear them saying, “No Catholic politician should be in favor of the war in Iraq, because it is an unjust war.” It’s up to the Catholics to decide, do they think the bishops who are saying this are right or wrong? It’s for the Catholics to decide whether it’s a good thing to say to the 280 million people in the United States of America, “If you vote for a Catholic, remember, they’re going to have to do whatever the bishops tell them on a very important subject.” The Catholics will have to decide that.
Do the Catholic bishops now, in light of the sex abuse scandal, have the moral authority to pull this off, in the eyes of Catholic voters?
I don’t think they will try. I don’t think they will try. Look, let’s be candid. I am a Catholic. I hope to remain a Catholic. I hope to survive all its rigors. I hope to be good enough, knowing that we’re all sinners; I hope I’m not such a terrible sinner that I don’t make it to whatever reward awaits Catholics who have tried, even if they slip once in a while. But the reality here is that the Church has never tried hard to sell this entire agenda. This is something new. They haven’t tried in the past and they’re not trying now. They didn’t try with slavery. They’re not trying with the pope’s law that says the death penalty is wrong. Period. You shouldn’t take any life, even of the worst. They’re not trying. They’re picking an isolated case, an isolated candidate, and I don’t think that that will work. And I don’t think it’s good for the Church, frankly.
Canon law says denial of Communion should always be a last resort if you wish to punish somebody. Does it seem that even that threat is a little extreme?
Again, that’s not a political question; that’s a religious question. Do I as a Catholic think it’s extreme? Of course I do. The consecration, the making of the bread and wine into the body and blood of our Savior, is the ultimate religious act for Catholics. And participating in it is the ultimate participation. So the insult of being told by your Church that you can’t participate in it, that’s very personally harmful, personally hurtful. It’s the reason I wrote the speech in 1984 on this subject, because an archbishop (who later became a cardinal and is since deceased), a very good man in many, many ways, Cardinal O’Connor, said on a television show, with me watching and my wife and my then-youngest son, Christopher, that, well, anybody who didn’t hold the line, like Geraldine Ferraro and Mario Cuomo, and didn’t say exactly what the Church was telling them to say on this subject, they could be in danger of losing the right to this and that, etc. It went through me like a blade. That’s when I sat down and did something that no Catholic had done before. I said, “We have to discuss this, discuss the theology of it. And we have to do it in a place where there are Catholics who know. And we have to let people witness it and make a determination: is this theology, as I see it, correct or isn’t it?” I said that in 1984. It was discussed by theologians. It was written [about] by theologians. If you look at the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CATHOLICISM that’s put out by Notre Dame, it’s referred to. It’s referred to as a proper statement. So it’s a very big, very important subject.
What do I think will happen? I think nothing will happen. I think that most of the bishops of the Church will insist that we Catholics live as Catholics. Let’s face that, too. On abortion, the numbers show, regrettably, tragically, that Catholic women ignore the teaching on abortion as much as any other part of the population. And so if that’s the case, it seems to me, to put Catholic politicians in a position where they are arguing a principle that their own Church does not live up to, by all the measurements available to you, is an awkward thing to do to the Church and a damaging thing to do to the Church. The Catholic politician’s position and the Church’s position should be: Look, I believe many things as a Catholic. And when I think things I believe as a Catholic would be good for you, as an atheist, or a Jew, or a Sikh, or a Confucian, or a Buddhist, or an agnostic, or whatever you are — if I think it’s good for all of you, as a governor, I’m going to try to convince you with two things: my own good example and love. That’s how I’ll convince you. And I’ll tell you that I have lived up to this and it’s been good for me and good for my family, in this way or that way. And I want to share it with you, because I love you, not because I think you’re a sinner or because you’re wrong. And I give you the benefit of my own experience with this truth. And I wish to share it with you. And then maybe hope for a consensus. That’s the way it ought to happen. It doesn’t not happen by ukase. It does not happen by fiat, especially if that can be called hypocrisy.
We spent a little time up in Massachusetts on the gay marriage issue with State Senator Marion Walsh, a Harvard Divinity School graduate, a Catholic, who does not support a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. She talked about the enormous pressure she’s been under. She talked about the million-dollar campaign by the Catholic Church, which is reeling from financial losses from the scandal, to promote a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts banning gay marriage. Do you think that maybe the Church is going after hot-button issues at the expense of what many people think is the main mission of the Church — that is, to minister to the poor?
I think what the founder of the Catholic religion — all Christian religions, that’s why they call it Christian — would say, among other things: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and render to God the things that are God’s.” When you talk about marriage, you have to define the word. What does “marriage” mean? Well, to a lot of people, it means only heterosexuals joining in a permanent union. Fine. And if your religion, like Catholicism, says that it has to involve just heterosexuals and can’t involve people of the same sex, great! Then they won’t be married in the Catholic Church. And if your religion does allow it — whatever your religion is — fine! Then you have a religious marriage, as a Protestant, atheist, or whatever you are, whatever religion you share. Nobody is going to complain about that. You can call it whatever you wish, if you want to call it a marriage. When you talk about, “We’re not going to allow people of the same sex to call it ‘marriage,'” tell me why. What is the rationale? Well, because marriage of heterosexuals is essential to society and always has been. Really? Why has it been essential to society? Well, it always has been. No, I didn’t ask you how long. Why? The truth is, because that’s the way you procreate, that’s the way you create babies. Okay. That was the basic reason in the beginning. But if that is your rationale, then two heterosexuals — wonderful, good people — who are not capable of bearing children would not be married. You would deny them the right to marry. And if you gave them the right to marry, and they had one child, would that be enough to justify marriage? And if they had the ability to raise children and just chose not to, would you deny them marriage? Would you deny me marriage if I grew too old for children? Do I have to fall out of the marriage? If that’s your rationale, it doesn’t make any sense. So I believe that you should, of course, as a matter of civic fairness and constitutional fairness, you should look at the equal protection clause. You don’t need a constitutional amendment; you have one. You have a number of them. And they say this: they say that you and I are entitled to equal protection, especially on the important things. And if I am a gay and you are not, we are entitled to the same civic benefits, if we enter unions with other people — called “marriage” or “civil union” or anything you want to call it — on a permanent basis, intending exclusivity. If that’s the point, then why shouldn’t I be treated exactly the way you are? Unless you throw procreation at me, and we know that doesn’t work as a rationale.
What about the issue of the separation of church and state?
It’s a nonissue, a nonissue. That was written in a letter by Thomas Jefferson. It’s not in the Constitution. If you mean by “the wall of separation between church and state” not a real wall; it is a curtain perhaps. What it suggests is that you ought to keep them as far apart as possible. That’s absolutely wise. And the Constitution does. That’s why, as I’ve said already, the right to be free in your religion, which you have in the First Amendment, is achieved in part by stopping the government from engaging in religion. They use the word “establishment of religion.” So we prevent government from establishing a religion. That means stay out of the business of religion as much as you can.
But it’s not a perfect wall. And as you’ll find when the constitutional experts in the Supreme Court find a way to put God into the Pledge of Allegiance — which I will bet you they will; I can’t imagine five of those judges saying, “No, you can’t say God in the Constitution” [sic] –they’re going to do a lot of damage to the idea of God when they write their opinions. So there is no absolute wall. But to the extent that we can keep them separated, that protects religion. And that’s the important notion. That is not adverse to religion. It’s not opposed to religion. It supports religion to stay away from religion, because that guarantees the freedom.
I spoke with Ambassador Ray Flynn about this, about whether or not the Catholic Church was trying to have too much influence on government. He said, “Are you kidding? We have never had less influence. We need to have more influence in government.”
I think there are many things that we as Catholics, Ray and I, believe that I wish were better respected, better understood by the people of this country. I think some of the best things our Church has ever done … the bishops wrote letters on the economy, letters on poverty. They’ve taken positions for years about the dangerous fragmentation in this country between people who make massive amounts of money and people — 35 million of them today — who are poor, 11 million children living at serious risk. The Catholic Church regards that as immoral for the wealthiest, most powerful nation in world history to tolerate a situation where there are so many poor. That’s lost on our population. That’s called “mushy-headed liberalism.” That’s Catholicism at its very best. If you study the life of Jesus for three years, he spent very little time in prohibitions and proscriptions. He did say, “Damn be he who calls his brother rock-eye,” so don’t curse anybody. And he did throw the moneylender down the steps of the temple, because it was a desecration. But most of his time was spent with people who were sinners, people who were ill. The Sermon on the Mount is the best illustration of Christianity at the core.
I guess that’s what I lost in my long question about Massachusetts and gay marriage, that the Catholic Church spent a million dollars on their public relations campaign for the state constitutional amendment. Sen. Walsh’s point, I think, was that the Catholic Church would have been much better, and it would have been more what Christ would have them do, to spend a million dollars on the poor.
[James] Wolfensohn is the head of the World Bank. He’s about to leave as head of the World Bank. But on the way out, he’s going to be giving speeches. He always says the same thing: Look at what we’re spending around the world on wars: $900 billion. And look at what we’re spending on poor people — and when so many of them live in Africa and in the Middle East, incidentally, where it’s particularly pertinent at the moment. We spend $200 [billion]. Look at the comparison in the ways we spend our wealth. And that’s true in this country. And the Catholic philosophy is very much ignored by many of the people in this country. And I think that’s what Ray Flynn means. I don’t think Ray Flynn means we need more influence in terms of getting everybody to agree with us that no woman should ever be entitled to an abortion under any circumstances. I don’t think Ray Flynn means that no one should ever use a contraceptive device. Not a child who has poor judgment about how they use their growing sexual capacities. Not people who have too many children to pay for already, but want to continue to be able to express their mutual affection. I don’t think he means that we’re not doing well in teaching people to use contraceptives. I don’t think he means that. I don’t think he means even coming out against the death penalty, although I would include that.
But do you think that the Church is misdirected when they’re spending money on that kind of a campaign?
It’s not for me to challenge my Church. I want the Church to take care of me as a very vulnerable sinner. I don’t want to lose my right to their solicitous attitude.
One of the things that Ray Flynn said was that he happened to be with the pope when the pope spoke against capital punishment. He said it was a very strong statement, but by the time it got here, it had lost all of its punch.
No, the Church here simply ignored it. Nobody knows it better than I. Twelve years, I was against the death penalty. I wrote to the Vatican. I said, “Give me a break. Help me here. I know you’re unhappy with what I did at Notre Dame, but give me a break. You’re against the death penalty. Say so! Don’t even mention me. Just say you’re against the death penalty.” It was 75 to 19 against me in the polls on this issue. Forget about me. I didn’t worry about me. I set two records for popularity despite the death penalty position, so that wasn’t the thing; the thing was, this is your teaching now, finally and belatedly; it should have been your teaching a long time ago. You had a pope 200 years ago say that this was wrong. Now you have cardinals who write books on Vietnam, talking about how what we did in Vietnam was right, and how the death penalty is absolutely correct. No, the Church just walked away from what the pope said.
That’s another reason why it’s very hard for the Church to come out en masse now in its bishops and say to politicians, “You must do this,” because they’re going to run into all the problems I’ve just given you.
And do you think that the sex abuse scandal has diminished some of their moral authority with Catholics?
Of course! Of course! Yes, it has, probably more than it should, for this reason: if you understand the Church the way I do — perhaps I misunderstand it — my understanding of the Church is that Christ came for the sinners, who are all of us; and that he offers us the chance of redemption for our sins, which are inevitable, by a life of love and penitence, etc. Now, that’s Christ. And when he created — not the first pope, because that didn’t happen for a few hundred years; we created popes, not Christ — the first leader of his organization, that first meager, humble organization of disciples, he picked as the leader Peter, who himself was going to commit three sins the first night. And he knew it. Who was going to three times deny Christ the first night. And he knew it, and he told Peter about it. Now, what was he saying when he made the first leader of the Church a sinner on the first night? So we’re all sinners. We’ve had popes who were colossal, ugly, catastrophes. How about the Crusade? What about the popes who murdered the husbands of their lovers?
So you should think of the Church as human beings. We are the Church, all the Catholics, the laypeople are part of the Church, the priests are part of the Church. And they are, like us, sinners. So when you catch a rabbi, if you’re Jewish, committing a bad sin, or a priest or a minister committing a bad sin, that doesn’t have anything to do with the religion. The religion doesn’t assume that everybody who strives to make themselves better by believing in some set of spiritual tenets is going to be a saint. That’s an absurdity. So there is a difference between the Church human and the religion it seeks to promote. There’s a difference between democracy and the president who is seeking to promote democracy. And if the president fails, however he or she fails, that doesn’t mean democracy fails. So if you see it that way, we shouldn’t despair about our religion. We should, however, be unhappy with our Church of humans, which we are. And to some extent, the human thing is to say, “Gee, now when my kids listen to a priest, they’re going to wonder whether the priest is good or bad.” But they should always have wondered about that. That should have nothing to do with the message. Elmer Gantry is a good example. It’s not the soul of the person who’s delivering the statement, it is the truth of the statement that is being delivered that makes it important.
Aside from capital punishment, were there other issues as governor where your faith collided with your public policy?
My faith never collided with my public policy on capital punishment. Some people in my Church did; my faith didn’t. There was nothing in my religion that I violated by saying, “Look, ROE V. WADE is the law. That’s the Constitution. You have the right to the Constitution, which says you can have an abortion.” My faith as a Catholic. … Now, remember, the word is “faith”; it’s not “knowledge.” The word is “faith.” And the reason you use “faith” is that you can’t use “knowledge.” It’s not that you know all these things to be true that are part of your religion when you’re talking about faith; it’s that you choose to believe them, you choose to suspend the need for intellectuality, because intellectually you can’t deal with it. And so you choose to believe it. You couldn’t possibly intellectualize that there’s a heaven. You choose to believe it. You can’t prove intellectually that Christ rolled back the stone. You choose to believe it. That’s called faith. It doesn’t collide with your intellect, but it’s not proven by your intellect. So nothing I did collided with my faith. It collided with what the bishops thought should be done politically. So our difference was basically political.
How should the Catholic Church deal with politicians who consistently vote against Church teachings?
When you say “vote against Church teachings,” if you are voting for the death penalty, let’s say — which Catholics do in very large numbers, like most of the population — I think it’s possible for you to say, “I voted for the death penalty. That doesn’t mean I’d be an executor. I just think that that should be a tool available to my government. Personally, I don’t like it, but I think that should be a tool available to my society, if they choose to use it.”
When the Church teaches that you ought to love one another and try to help one another, and you ought to avoid killing one another unless it’s absolutely essential, and so they declare that some wars are “just” occasions for you to kill other people and some are not, that is obviously a truth that has significance only if you try to sell it to the population. And so, implicit in that truth is the importance of its being accepted by the whole population. But there the Catholic Church seems to be saying very little at the moment. Now, the bishops did declare the war unjust. So you would have to ask yourself, then, there’s a truth that really does have relevance to the whole population, whatever their religion. That’s one we should be banging away at, but apparently the bishops feel differently.
In 1984, you said in your Notre Dame speech, manipulating religion for political purposes is frightening and divisive. Do you see that happening today?
By President Bush or by the bishops? Do I see people manipulating religion in a way that … no, I don’t really. I see an awful lot of confusion about religion; for example, gay marriage. Are you talking about religious marriage? If you’re talking about religious marriage, we have no problem. Nobody is going to force you to have a religious marriage and nobody is going to ban a religious marriage. So if you choose to have a marriage in a religion that accepts gays, who’s going to complain? [If] I happen to be Presbyterian, and the Presbyterian Church now tells me gay marriages are all right — I don’t think they do, but let’s say they did — and we gay people get married, myself and another male. We call it a religious marriage. What’s the problem? What is the problem? So I think there’s a confusion in how we’re handling religion.
President Bush says he wants to give money to faith-based charities, to be distributed to poor people — very confusing to people. It should be very simple. We’ve been doing that forever. There is no dispenser of government money for poor people and people in need as great as the Roman Catholic Church in this country. They spend billions of dollars taking care of orphans, ill people. However, President Bush adds that he thinks that the faith that’s doing it — the Baptists don’t like this, most of them, but the Presbyterians or the Catholics — should have the right to limit their service to people who accept God as they see it. That’s all wrong. That’s absolutely wrong, that I can give you money which you can then use to propagate your religion. That just doesn’t make any sense.
And so I think that more than manipulating religion in a really dangerous way, there’s a lot of confusion about the way we’re using religion now.
Another thing you said in 1984 is that abortion is not the fault of government, nor should the government necessarily play a role in fixing the problem?
No, I don’t think I said that.
Did I misinterpret what you said?
Oh, yes. I’ll tell you how much. Right after Notre Dame, I wrote an op-ed piece in THE NEW YORK TIMES. I said, “Look, I’ve made myself clear on the abortion issue” — I think clearer than anybody ever did, because nobody wrote that much and shared it with the world the way I did. Let’s get something else clear. Whatever religion you’re in, I think most human beings would agree we have more abortions than we’re comfortable with — a million and a half a year, or whatever it is. The terrible choice that a woman has to make, whether to have an abortion or not, happens too frequently, especially in the case of unwanted pregnancies, undesired pregnancies. And so, without offending anybody’s religion, we should work very hard to limit the number of unwanted pregnancies. How do you do that? First, we should start with the young people and we should argue strenuously [for] abstention. I don’t believe in all this talk about, “What’s the point, they’re going to do it anyway.” Nobody knows better than I. I’ve got 11 granddaughters. I have five kids. I was young once. So I know that people are going to get involved anyway. But when you avoid teaching abstention, it’s the same as promoting the other thing. So just to cover that base, teach abstention: The best thing for you to do is wait until you get lucky and find somebody you really love, and then use this ultimate gift that God has given you. Because if you use it up before then, it won’t mean as much to you. Now, they’re not going to listen to you. So give them education as to birth control, only for those people whose religion allows them to use contraceptives. Make the contraceptives available. Give them education, whether they’re religious or not. Do it in the public schools. Teach them about this.
Now, if despite all of that and the availability of contraceptives, you have a young person or an older person who has a pregnancy she does not want, now the temptation is for abortion. Make sure you give that woman the same right, and the same help, in bringing the baby to term that you would in giving her the right for an abortion. So allow her to bring the baby to term and then help her with an adoption. Try to convince her, “Look, you don’t need an abortion here if you think you’re not ready for this child, if you think you’re not in a position to do the child justice. Let’s work toward an adoption.” Let’s make it easier to have an adoption. “And we’ll pay for your going to term. We’ll give you a good doctor. We’ll deliver the child and we will arrange the adoption.” I think if we worked aggressively at all those things, we could reduce significantly the number of abortions, without ever offending anybody, without ever denying a woman choice, and without ever breaking any religious rules.
Now, I was careful about contraceptives. Obviously, you are not going to push for somebody to use contraceptives who doesn’t want to. But for those people who are free to use them, you should make them available.
Anything more you want to say about how your faith as a Catholic informed your thought?
I can say something about my favorite thought on religion. I think this country desperately needs religion — I think all countries do — religion in the sense of belief in something much larger than yourself, that rationalizes your own existence. And I think the idea that people may still be killing one another over religious confusion, as they always have, is truly tragic, because all the religions I’m aware of, starting with monotheism (forget paganism), starting with the Hebrews, all the religions I can name, whether they have a god or not in them, have two principles. For the Jews, tzedaka and tikkun olam; for the Christians, love one another as you love yourself, for the love of me, for I am truth, and the truth is God made the world but didn’t complete it, and you ought to be collaborators in creation. So two truths: you should love one another as human beings and you should lock arms and make this place better to live in. The only truth you’re absolutely certain of, that you don’t need faith for, is the value of the next breath you’re going to draw, the value of your life. And the two religious truths that are common to everything, and should be common to our politics and the way we conduct our affairs, here and in Iraq and everywhere else, is that we’re supposed to love one another and we’re supposed to work together to make the place better. That’s the purest religion; that would be the best politics.