In a recent interview published in New York Magazine, writer Christopher Hitchens is asked “Has anyone in the Bush administration confided in you about being an atheist?”. His answer:
Well, I don’t talk that much to them–maybe people think I do. I know something which is known to few but is not a secret. Karl Rove is not a believer, and he doesn’t shout it from the rooftops, but when asked, he answers quite honestly. I think the way he puts it is, “I’m not fortunate enough to be a person of faith.”
To be completely honest, I don’t find the idea that Karl Rove is an atheist all that shocking. The Bush Administration is a an incredibly cynical organization, so I don’t think anyone should be surprised that one of the key architects of the Christian Right’s takeover of the U.S. government is not a religious man himself.
In fact, this reminds me of a conversation I had last year with a Bush Administration political appointee in the Department of Commerce. Although I normally don’t normally keep these types too close, this particular appointee was visiting a friend of mine in Oxford. Toward the end of the evening (after I had already received a juicy but unrealized tip about a potential legal challenge to Google), the conversation moved into the political realm. Did he not find it problematic, I asked, that through the Bush Administration a relatively small segment of the American population–the Christian Right–enjoys such a disproportionally large amount of influence.
No, no, he told me. I had it all wrong. Most of the people in the administration don’t believe in all of that stuff, he informed.
I offered the obvious response: isn’t that even worse, then, to pander to a group that you don’t even agree with?
He again offered the same non sequitur reply, and the conversation continued unproductively in this same vein until the topic eventually evolved into something else.
I found his nonchalant attitude toward the Bush Administration’s exploitation of–but fundamental disinterest in–the Christian Right quite informative, and it helps put the current revelation regarding Karl Rove into perspective.