AUSTRALIAN PRIME Minister Julia Gillard is an atheist (“Australian parties vie to form coalition after a close election,’’ Page A5, Aug. 23), as is the British deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg. I mention this because, unlike here, in more rational polities the question of politicians’ and Supreme Court justices’ religion (or freedom from it) does not seem to arise during candidacy or tenure. What a contrast to our campaigns and media analyses, which never seem free of the religion “issue.’’
Indeed, the Republican Party and the right wing specialize in making this an issue, and flaunt the intensity of their personal religiosity. Now their more extreme and more ignorant adherents pursue our president in full cry, having succeeded in convincing almost a quarter of the electorate that he is Muslim.
Politically, the United States owes so much to Britain and has a deep affinity for Australia. Couldn’t we learn from them?
David H. Spodick