Americans have always believed that the devil likes to play politics. Colonial leader Henry Hugh Brackenridge claimed in 1778 that Satan inspired George III’s allegedly ruthless policy toward the colonies. Two decades later, Federalists claimed that the nascent Democratic Party had put forward the antichrist as a presidential candidate in the form of Thomas Jefferson. Later Jedidiah Morse, inventor of Morse code and end-times enthusiast, explained to audiences the Devil’s role in Jeffersonianism. He even claimed to have a list of Democrats who belonged to the Illuminati (though like Joe McCarthy, Morse never showed anyone his proof).
The History Channel miniseries The Bible has been alleged to continue this trend.
Through the off-again, on-again plans for the Saturday mail, religious leaders and organizations remained quiet. Perhaps they had too many other pressing concerns. What was missed was any discussion of the postal service’s importance in American religious history, a history that has been marked by religious frustration and innovation.
On February 11,comedian Stephen Colbert asked historian Garry Wills if he was in favor of the next pope being not John Paul III or Benedict XVII but “Nobody the First.” Wills smiled and said, “Ah, very good idea.”
For some Catholics, this idea is more than a joke.
It requires only modest exaggeration to say that C. Everett Koop, the distinguished surgeon general (and Dartmouth alumnus) who died on February 25, was responsible for the emergence of the religious right.
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