I still think Mary is making a horrible mistake.
But we'll see how things turn out. Real progress sometimes comes in unexpected ways, and bitter disappointment, steered in the right direction, can sow the seeds of positive change. I think this essayist has a handle on the right direction, and touches on quite a few of my own personal "talking points" (otherwise known as bonnet bees, or soapbox specials, or...). I was really glad to see someone else observe that the religious right, as in Falwell et. al, are the Pharisees of the current age (duh!), which I think many a lonely liberal child has thought, sitting in church, unable to find a way to speak out. The problem is that the forces of evil always seem so sure of themselves, it's easy to come to doubt your own conclusions. You think, "They're so certain, and I'm so full of doubts...they must be right! But how can they be right? Uh...." (insert sound effect of brain going into shutdown, like a computer fed too much contradictory information.)
Eventually I came to the conclusion that an honest person is often full of doubts, and that being too sure of yourself, especially if you have carried it to the point of being intolerant of what anyone else thinks, is a sign that you are on the wrong path.
It's kind of like that Buffy episode where she is poisoned by a demon and starts to hallucinate that she is in a mental hospital, her parents are alive and together, and the entire 5.5 seasons of demon-fighting weirdness was just a dream. ("Normal Again" Season 6.) She is obviously torn between two versions of reality, both of which have a great attraction for her. Her disturbed mental state renders her unable to know which one is real based on her perceptions. For a while she decides to take door number 2, in which her psychologist advises her to get rid of her ties in the "fantasy" universe. So she decides that she has to let the demon thingy kill her friends. The flaw in this line of thinking seemed obvious to me. If you simply can't tell which reality is real, go with the one that doesn't have you hurting your friends.
There's another Buffy episode that I've been thinking about a lot, "The Wish" (Season 3) which is one of my favorites. In it, peevish teen princess Cordelia has been granted a wish by a demon fairy godmother -- Buffy never came to Sunnydale. This reality is nightmarish, a dystopic vision of Sunnydale as a microcosmic vampire fascist state ready to step out and take over the world, and she gets killed promptly. Giles, who is kind of a sorcerer, figures out how to restore the reality that existed before the wish by destroying the demon's power source, a necklace. The demon taunts him, "You trusting fool -- how do you know that reality is any better than this one?" He replies, "Because it has to be" and destroys the necklace.
Scripted by the 2004 election, it would have been more like:
Demon: You trusting fool. How do you know that reality is any better than this one?
Giles: Oh no -- you're right! Better stick with the misery I'm familiar with.
Everybody dies. The end.