It was once the operative saying: Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. In looking at the news about the allegations against and the clouds over Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, and Karl Rove, together with the close ties they claim to have with the Religious "Right," I am led to conclude that that should be amended: Relgion is the last refuge of the scoundrel.
I want to close there, but I'm I, so I have to say a little more: This really highlights the distinction Karl Barth drew between religion and faith. (Does anyone dispute that Karl Barth was simply the greatest theologian of the 20th Century? I don't think Pannenberg or Jenson or Rahner or Ratzinger [he's not really in the systematic pack with the rest of them] or von Balthazar [though he may be the most "cultured"] come even that close.)
At root, religion is the effort to manipulate the divine to one's own or one's people's benefits and desires. This may be more or less cynical, savage, or selfish. Faith, on the other hand, is a receptive relationship with the divine in which, at least in Christian terms, one allows God to be God and to be the measure of life for oneself and one's people.
Hence, "religion is the last refuge of the scoundrel."
Now come on, people, you have to give me points for brevity.