Maggie Gallagher

He is helped in the task by the remarkable extent to which fundamentalist and evangelical Christians have developed warm and fuzzy feelings toward Jews.

Political scientists have developed a polling tool called a feeling thermometer, which asks respondents to rate social groups and political leaders on a scale ranging from 0 degrees to 100 degrees. Anything below 35 degrees (the average score whites express toward illegal aliens) reflects pretty fierce antipathy; scores above 50 degrees suggest varying degrees of warmth.

In 2000, the average white Christian fundamentalist rated Jews a warm 66 degrees, basically the same rating that Catholics and mainline Protestants gave to Jews.

Have we reached a nirvana of religious tolerance? Well, almost. There is one religion that it is still acceptable to openly hate in America. In fact, "One has to reach back to pre-New Deal America," write Bolce and De Maio, "... to find a period when voting behavior was influenced by this degree of antipathy toward a religious group."

Which group? Fundamentalist Christians, of course.

In 2000, about a quarter of white respondents rated fundamentalists 35 degrees or below, compared to just 1 percent who felt this antagonistic toward Jews and about 2.5 percent who expressed this much hostility toward blacks and Catholics. Among Democratic elites, the hatred is more intense: The majority of delegates to the 1992 Democratic convention gave Christian fundamentalists the absolute minimum score: 0 degrees.

The Party of Unbelief believes in tolerating all points of view, unless they you happen to have one they find really irritating, in which case all bets are off.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.