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Democrats' tolerance of religious differences

July 22, 2006

Re "How the Dems lost their faith," Opinion, July 16

Contrary to Gregory Rodriguez's thesis, Democrats didn't lose their faith. Republicans simply were better at articulating theirs.

Americans are openly religious. Nearly two-thirds describe themselves as strongly active in a church, synagogue or spiritual group. Up to now, Democrats have been reluctant to impose their beliefs on others. Today there is an emerging social morality that is both traditional and progressive.

To win national office, Democrats will need to find a way to merge the older, absolute morality with a newer tolerance for individual differences.

DENNY FREIDENRICH

Laguna Beach

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Rodriguez has fallen into a common trap: What the media have portrayed as secular relativism has, in fact, been a refusal to endorse religious particularism. What Democrats have emphasized is religious diversity. What Republicans have presented as a contrast between religion and amorality has, in fact, been an endorsement of a very narrow brand of Christian thought.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has not endorsed a surrender to fundamentalist jihad. Instead, he has wisely called for a positive affirmation of faith within the American melting pot of religious differences.

BEN BURROWS

Elkins Park, Pa.

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