OrthodoxyToday.org
Commentary on social and moral issues of the day


Religion and the Founders: "The Nation" is out of step with the American people

Christopher Levenick & Michael Novak

  • Print this page
  • Email this page
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Bookmark and Share

If one were looking for an example of how desperately out of touch the Left is with mainstream American culture, it would be difficult to find a better example than the February 21 issue of The Nation. That issue features an article by Brooke Allen entitled "Our Godless Constitution," which attempts to prove that "[o]ur nation was founded not on Christian principles, but on Enlightenment ones." What a strange distinction! It certainly would have been foreign to the Founders, who thought the moral precepts of Christian faith indispensable to the survival of the infant republic. And it's a distinction that remains foreign to the vast majority of Americans today.

Why, one wonders, does Allen even bother to raise this argument? Why now, after the Left has so manifestly marginalized itself on moral and religious issues? For one thing, like most everything The Nation publishes, her article accuses President Bush of lying -- indeed, of lying on an Orwellian scale. But it's remarkable how uninterested she is in proving the point. She offers not one shred of evidence of the president's actually saying what she accuses him of saying. Not one quote. And even if she were to find some example of Bush's asserting that the United States was founded on Christian and not Enlightenment principles, she would have to provide evidence that Bush himself disbelieved the statement. Otherwise Bush wouldn't be lying, he would merely be expressing his historical judgment. That judgment may or may not be wrong, but that possibility doesn't make it a lie. Lying means saying something other than what you yourself think. It means intentional deceit.

Honest mistakes are not lies. Allen makes plenty of mistakes herself, but it would be unfair to call her a liar.

To take an example: In her litany of statements that intend to prove that "the Founding Fathers were not religious men," she cites one line from a letter written by John Adams. According to Allen, "As an old man, [Adams] observed, 'Twenty times in the course of my late reading have I been upon the point of breaking out, "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!"'" Pretty damning evidence, right? Well, no: Allen neglects to include the next two sentences from Adams: "But in this exclamati[on] I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly. Without Religion, this World would be Something not fit to be mentioned in polite Company, I mean Hell."

Read the entire article on the National Review Online website (new window will open).

Posted: 09-Mar-05



Copyright 2001-2014 OrthodoxyToday.org. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article is subject to the policy of the individual copyright holder. Follow copyright link for details.
Copyright 2001-2014 OrthodoxyToday.org. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article is subject to the policy of the individual copyright holder. See OrthodoxyToday.org for details.


Article link: