According to Michael Medved, there is one acceptable form of bigotry, the bigotry against those who don’t believe in a god:
“On one level, at least, the ongoing war on terror represents a furious battle of ideas and we face devastating handicaps if we attempt to beat something with nothing. Modern secularism rejects the notion that human beings feel a deep-seated, unquenchable craving for making connections with Godliness, in its various definitions and manifestations. For Osama bin Laden and other jihadist preachers, Islam understands that yearning but “infidel” America does not. Our enemies insist that God plays the central role in the current war and that they affirm and defend him, while we reject and ignore him. The proper response to such assertions involves the citation of our religious traditions and commitments, and the credible argument that embrace of modernity, tolerance and democracy need not lead to godless materialism. In this context, an atheist president conforms to the most hostile anti-America stereotypes of Islamic fanatics and makes it that much harder to appeal to Muslim moderates whose cooperation (or at least neutrality) we very much need. The charge that our battle amounts to a “war against Islam” seems more persuasive when an openly identified non-believer leads our side—after all, President Atheist says he believes in nothing, so it’s easy to assume that he leads a war against belief itself. A conventional adherent of Judeo-Christian faith can, on the other hand, make the case that our fight constitutes of an effort to defend our own way of life, not a war to suppress some alternative – and that way of life includes a specific sort of free-wheeling, open-minded religiosity that has blessed this nation and could also bless the nations of the Middle East.”
Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings makes the counter-argument fairly well:
Leave aside the obvious point that an atheist President need not be amoral or materialistic, and could therefore appeal to a whole host of values, and the further fact that citing one’s own Christianity or Judaism is unlikely to convince Muslims of one’s benign intentions. (Crusades, anyone?)
Not to mention the fact that pandering to the superstitions of other religions really doesn’t accomplish anything either.
But, more importantly, Medved’s idiocy is an unfortunate reflection of public opinion, and yet another indication that men like Jefferson would never survive in the current political climate.