An unexpected twist in an otherwise religion-free presidential debate tonight: Tom Brokaw alluded to Buddhism.
Brokaw, of NBC News, introduced the final question, from Peggy in Amherst, NH, by saying "it has a certain Zen-like quality." He then proceeded to ask the question, "What don’t you know, and how will you learn it?" that both candidates blew past on their route to closing statements.
Otherwise, not only was there no talk directly about religious beliefs or practices, but there were no references to God or faith.
One issue that came up that is of interest to Jews, Muslims, and many Christians: Israel.
McCain, in describing his support for Israel, twice raised the specter of an Iran-triggered Holocaust, saying "we have to say never again to a Holocaust" and "We can never allow a second Holocaust to take place." McCain also used the word "holocaust" in the first presidential debate, and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, used it in last week’s vice presidential debate.
Obama tonight also referred to the Holocaust, saying, "If we could have intervened effectively in the Holocaust, who among us would say that we had a moral obligation not to go in?" He also expressed unqualified support for Israel, saying Israel is "our strongest ally in the region and one of our strongest allies in the world."
UPDATE: Over at Christianity Today's politics blog, Sarah Pulliam hears an echo of Job in Obama's comment, about McCain's health care proposal, that "what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away."
(Pool photo by Getty shows McCain and Obama at the start of the second presidential debate, at Belmont University in Nashville.)