Describe an American as a Roman Catholic and you say nothing about his or her political and social beliefs.
Left-wing flower-power Democrats can be Catholics, so can right-wing socially conservative Republicans. American Jews, Hindus, even Muslims are not politically defined by their faith. But evangelical Christians, operating inside the Republican party, have coalesced their energies and their resources around a set of beliefs on homosexuality, abortion and Darwinism which place them on the authoritarian right of every political question and at odds with science. They are campaigning, for instance, to tell visitors to the Grand Canyon that this wondrous sight is not millions of years old, which it is.
In the state of Kansas they have succeeded in getting the science syllabus altered so that teachers can tell their pupils that God made everything in its current form - a change the National Academy of Sciences said "would put the students of Kansas at a competitive disadvantage as they took their place in the world." This is serious stuff and Republicans who are not evangelical Christians have in recent weeks been organising a fight-back. They have noticed two things. Number one, that the zealots are spending more energy fighting Charles Darwin than cutting taxes, and number two - and this is much more important - that the zealots outside Kansas are not receiving the support of the nation at large.
In the town of Dover, Pennsylvania, the local school board managed this year to get warmed up, creationism infiltrated into biology classes, and here is what happened. A couple of weeks ago all eight members of the board who were up for re-election lost their seats. "If there is a disaster in your area," the tele-evangelist Pat Robertson told the people of Dover, "don't turn to God - you just rejected Him from your city." Mr Robertson is an important man: the former Attorney General John Ashcroft teaches at his university, and his views are sought on Supreme Court candidates and foreign affairs.
But should those views govern the Republican party? Many members think not, particularly since President Bush is himself in such dire trouble now. He famously told an interviewer that when deciding to go to war in Iraq he listened to the authority not of his dad but of a Higher Father. And, Republicans are daring to think, if not quite say, out loud: "Look where that got him."
From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 26 November, 2005 at 1130 GMT on BBC Radio 4.
This article really spoke to me. Personally I think the Republican party has somehow become the lap dog of right-wing fundamentalist evangelical nut jobs and I honestly can't believe they've been allowed to take it this far. Maybe the moderate Republicans among us will finally grow some grapes and take their party back from the brink of insanity.
[Edited 2005-11-29 14:38:31]