The title is a reference to St. Matthew's Gospel, where Jesus tells people not to be ostentatious in their faith, charging them "Whn you pray, so into a floset to do so; do not stand on the corner and shout as do the Pharisees. I tell you, they have their reward." This comes via two articles, here and here, that deal in different ways on different facets of American evangelical Protestantism. Christy Hardin Smith at Fire Dog Lake wonders why so many feel it necessary to wear their faith on their sleeve, or perhaps as a chip on their shoulder, but fail miserably when it comes to actually doing anything other than putting a bumper sticker on a car, or a horrid lawn ornament up at Christmas time. David Kup, on the other hand, would like James Dobson to take a little personal responsibility for a misleading and inaccurate article posted at the website for his group, Focus on the Family.
The reason I put them together is this. Kuo is being "swiftboated" (a term de guerre politique for personally destroying the reputation of anyone who publicly disagrees with the Right) for saying something that should have been clear for a long time - the Bush Administration didn't and doesn't care a fart in a windstorm for Christian voters. One did not need the evidence in his book, Tempting Faith to figure that out, but it is good it is in the public record. Kuo's problem, of course, is that he is saying something true, bound by his conscience and his sense of integrity rooted in a deep commitment to the Christian faith that there is more to being a Christian than slamming abortion rights or same-sex marriage. You see, like Christy over at FDL, he wants Christianity to actually be about something substantive - helping the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, all that stuff St. Matthew's Gospel says we are going to be judged on.
For Dobson, alas, Christianity is about "family values" which are neither defined nor explpained, just declaimed. It is about power - power in the family devolving from husband to male children, only afterwards to wife then female children; power in the state being rooted in a God devoid of mercy or grace, but enforcing a code of conduct more arbitrary than anything found in the distortions of Muslim terrorists; power in society flowing from a Church not about service but about policing private conduct in a way antithetical to both the bulk of Christian history and real American values. That the Christian faith is about setting aside power (read the second chapter of Paul's letter to the Philippians for a good summary) is outside his ken.
Publicly shouting one's faith from the rooftops (one of those instances where Jesus seems to contradict himself) is admonished in scripture, but in a totally different context. We are to shout from the rooftops when there sems to be a general denial of the faith. While America is hardly a Christian nation (now would I want it to be), the plethora of churches and the constant discussion of the place of religion in public life would not lead an objective observer to claim that Christianity has disappeared from the United States. There is no need for shouting from the rooftops, or putting out really ugly Christmas displays.
Both Hardin Smith and Kuo present examples of what the Christian faith should be - one through rhetorical challenge, the other through example - and use counter-point as a wonderful tool for showing how far back into the closet many Christians need to go (and please, no gay jokes).