American Prospect Online - Have Faith
Whatever happened to civil religion, the faith of Ike who believed that "this country doesn't make any sense unless it's founded on some deeply held religious faith--and I don' t care what it is."
Most Americans, including those who say they wouldn't vote for an atheist, still practice and profess this innocuous folk religion. All the religion they want in their president is formal affiliation with some respectable denomination, visible cultic practice and the assurance that his deeply held religious faith has made him both principled and nice.
Kerry doesn't have to quote Scripture, pepper his conversation with folksy allusions to "the good Lord," or give testimony. All he has to do is say that his faith (and they don't care what it is) has gotten him through tough times and given him strength to make hard decisions, and follow up by pulling out the rosary he carried with him in Vietnam.
The religious dilemma is of the cultured despisers' own making. They imagine that only religion virulent enough to scare off liberal voters would impress the masses.