Belief Beat

I dearly love the premise of GetReligion, a blog that points out weaknesses in the mainstream media’s coverage of faith-related issues, but I do get annoyed at its conservative Christian perspective at times. For example, all the pearl-clutching over Bill Keller’s recent New York Times column, which made the point that since religion plays such an important role in some of these presidential contender’s lives and decisions, perhaps we should ask them some specific questions about how these values might influence a presidency. (Two GetReligion posts so far on this, by Mollie Z. Hemingway and Sarah Pulliam Bailey. Check them out, and the Comments section.)

As I wrote in a Religion News Service piece this week, Republicans are more Christian/religious than the American public, so these questions are especially relevant during the Republican primary season. I suspect that there will be less God talk during the general election, especially if Romney becomes the Republican candidate and continues to downplay his Mormon practices. (I’m sticking by my theory that Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann will split the evangelical and Tea Party vote.) And sure, Keller made some word choices that Catholics and evangelical Christians may find offensive, but it’s a column as opposed to a news story, and an effective way of getting our attention.

Now, having made the case that I’m more liberal than the GetReligionistas when it comes to public life, I’m actually a fellow curmudgeon at heart when it comes to private life. So, three cheers for GR’s Terry Mattingly on his Scripps Howard column: No Hooters shirts in Mass, please.

OK, I understand that churches want to be welcoming, and that times have changed. Growing up, I used to envy my Catholic friends who went to Mass in pants — sometimes even jeans! (Most women do wear pants to my family’s church these days, but I find it too weird now.) But let’s be respectful, too. Plus, dressing nicely puts you in the right frame of mind to take the service seriously, similar to the arguments made for dress codes at school and work.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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