In case you missed it, last night Anderson Cooper of CNN asked Bernie Sanders about his religious faith. Here is Bernie’s answer:
Here is what I tweeted last night in response to Cooper’s question and Sanders’s answer:
Sanders: “Faith is a guiding principle in my life.” His is a Ben Franklin approach to spirituality–the golden rule. #DemTownHall
— John Fea (@JohnFea1) February 4, 2016
Over at The New Republic, writer Elizabeth Bruenig described Sanders’s religious beliefs as “moralistic therapeutic deism, a phrase coined by sociologist Christian Smith to describe the religious sensibilities of American teenagers. Here is a taste of her post:
Moralistic therapeutic deism is a fairly new sociological term used to describe the spiritual sensibilities of people who believe that there’s a god, sort of, and that the point of this nebulous supernatural force is to encourage people to better themselves morally and get along with others. Sometimes there are vaguely karmic leanings, like the idea that good people have good afterlives, but it’s more of a category of spiritual notions than any well-defined set of commitments or beliefs.
It’s a more common persuasion than one might expect, and it seems to fit Bernie’s spiritual feelings pretty well.
I think it is fair, and not too problematic, to say that Ben Franklin’s religious beliefs were something akin to moralistic therapeutic deism. Sanders comes pretty close to this as well. Deists, however, at least believe in a creator God. I am not sure Sanders does.
As I have written here before, we may see another Election of 1800