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Columnist To The World Mark Steyn On Mitt And Huck

Saturday, December 8, 2007  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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And the mortgage bailout as well.  The closing graphs:

[W]e’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking about nothing but religion. Mike Huckabee’s declaration in his Iowa advertising that he is a “Christian leader” seems a barely coded dig at Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, and Mitt’s big speech Thursday was his own attempt to put the Mormon question to bed.

As far as Christian conservatives are concerned, Gov. Huckabee is obviously a sincere Christian. But he doesn’t seem to be any kind of a conservative-not if you look at his record on domestic policy.

As for Gov. Romney, one of the most interesting passages of his speech was his contrast of America’s faith with Europe’s: “I’m not sure that we fully appreciate the profound implications of our tradition of religious liberty,” he said. “I have visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired … so grand … so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too ‘enlightened’ to venture inside and kneel in prayer. The establishment of state religions in Europe did no favor to Europe’s churches.”

That’s very true. As America demonstrates, faith thrives in a free market. In Europe, the established church, whether formal (the Church of England) or informal (as in Catholic Italy and Spain), killed religion as surely as state ownership killed the British car industry. When the Episcopal Church degenerates into wimpsville relativist milquetoast mush, Americans go elsewhere. When the Church of England undergoes similar institutional decline, Britons give up on religion entirely.

Instead of a state church, Europe believes in the state as church-the all-powerful beneficent provider of cradle-to-grave welfare.

“Freedom requires religion,” said Mitt Romney, and, whether or not one agrees, in Europe big government has led naturally to small religion-a point Gov. Huckabee might want to ponder. I would rather we talked less about religion in America (which can take care of itself) and more about government, which seems to be trending in an alarmingly European direction, Democrats and Republicans disagreeing merely on the speed at which we’ll get there. Yet the two are explicitly connected.

Europe’s religious decline derives in part from the state’s usurpation and annexation of so many of the other supporting structures of society, including the church. I am in favor of a free market in religion and a free market in housing, but right now I’d like a conservative candidate with a clear-headed commitment to both.

Read the whole thing.  And all of Steyn’s work at SteynOnline.com.

Including his wonderful send-off of Evel Knievel from Maclean’s: “Took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’,” with this wholly unexpected but very pleasing graph:

[Knievel] and Caesars Palace were made for each other. During the Afghan campaign in 2001, an Internet wag, Glenn Crawford, deftly summed up the different cultural approaches to unpromising terrain-in this instance between the bleak Afghan plain and Nevada. Third World solution: eke a living out of the desert. American solution: “Viva Las Vegas!” In Crazy For You, the hit 1990s rewrite of the 1930s Gershwin musical Girl Crazy, they kept the city-slickers-out-west plot but threw in a gag in which someone proposes turning the dead-horse Nevada backwater into a gambling town. The wise guys roll their eyes. “Who’d come to Nevada to gamble?” One wouldn’t commend a den of sin to every trouble spot on the planet, but, motoring through the Sunni Triangle just after the fall of Saddam and enduring one dreary desert burg after another, I couldn’t help feeling the history of the region would have been a little different if smack in the middle of Araby you could have seen Wayne Newton singing Danke Schoen with full supporting orchestra, followed by Evel Knievel jumping the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, plus 42 weapons of mass destruction and a plague of locusts.

When will one of the cable networks, or even one of the big three, figure out that a late-night Steyn talk show would be a very big hit?

Here’s the audio from Mark’s guest hosting for me Thursday: Hour oneHour twoHour three.  If nothing else, go to hour two for the Steyn-Lileks discussion of Christmas music.

Christmas shopping?

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