David Brooks’ op-ed in today’s New York Times deserves a read. It is essentially true and artful. If you only had 800 words to try to say something intelligent about how Americans view their religious faith, this may be the best way of doing it. This is not to say that more can’t be said on the subject, of course. Take this from Brooks: "This tendency to emphasize personal growth over any fixed creed has shaped our cultural and political life. First, it’s meant that Americans are reasonably tolerant, generally believing that all people of good will are basically on the same side. In London recently, President Bush said that Christians and Muslims both pray to the same God. That was theologically controversial, but it was faithful to the national creed." You could reverse the first sentence to explain how religion has been effected by the political creed of natural rights and natural right, the American Proposition. Religious freedom has meant--in part--a kind of enforced moderation on those sects (Catholic, Mormon, just to cite two) that were inclined to misunderstand or not fully understand equality under God. And it has meant that a never-ending conversation take place between individuals who are free and rational beings made in the image of God and who are concerned about the well-being of their souls. Hence Bush and Dean, as Brooks claims, "If they met in a Bible study group and talked about their eternal souls, they’d probably embrace."