chapter  3
24 Pages

Belief: Faith in What?

IN THE 2000s the topic of values reemerged in public discourse asa point of contention between liberals and conservatives, as well asa rallying call for moral absolutists. The values debate has emerged most strongly in debates over “good” and “evil” in people’s lives and on the international stage. In the 2000 presidential race, George W. Bush ran on a platform of moral platitudes, echoed in his victory speech by imploring Americans to vanquish “evil” from the world and “teach our children values.”1 While President Barack Obama has expressed his values in more nuanced terms, Obama’s appeals for dialogue, tolerance, and responsibility convey a distinct moral program. All political agendas implicitly convey definitions of “right” and “wrong,” imploring citizens to accept one set of such definitions over others. Framing issues of right and wrong in terms of good and evil intensifies the rhetoric of the discussion, evoking a heightened emotionalism and sometimes the specter of impending threat.