Since we mocked Zach Wamp's wacky rhetoric yesterday, it's only fair to note that the only lieutenant governor we have also said something spectacularly stupid the other week:
"You could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion or is it a nationality, way of life or cult, whatever you want to call it."
To be honest, when we first read this, we just sort of rolled our eyes and sighed. But that was before we realized that, rather than just the know-nothing pandering of some soon-to-be third-place finisher in a gubernatorial primary, this is actually part of a new gambit on the xenophobic right: an attempt to exempt one of the world's major religions from the explicit protections of the First Amendment. Of course, if we paid more attention to kooky right-wing ideas, this might not surprise us. But honestly, who can keep track of all of them? In any case, this notion is working its way into the conservative mainstream. The most recent example is this post on the National Review website, by former assistant U.S. Attorney Andy McCarthy:
We permit thousands of mosques in our country, and Islam is not a religion. Islam is an ideology that has some spiritual elements, but strives for authoritarian control of every aspect of human life -- social, political, and economic.
So. If it makes you at all nervous that our lieutenant governor is taking it upon himself to go around deciding whose religion is a "real" religion and whose isn't ... well, maybe it should. Indications are that you can expect to start hearing it more.