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Faith, Secularism, and Government

Joseph Loconte

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This is part three of a four-part debate between Joseph Loconte and Amy Sullivan about religious conservatives and the Bush administration. Loconte's previous contribution is online here: "Evangelicals and the Bush Administration." The full debate can be read here. (New window opens; free registration required.)

Dear Amy,

I'm grateful for your unvarnished response to my argument about evangelicals and President Bush. I like righteous indignation, and there's lots of it in your rejoinder. I just wish more of it was aimed at hard and important targets, instead of a few lonely fish in a barrel.

Let me begin with what we agree on. We agree that it is false and offensive for conservatives to allege (as some have done) that Democratic opposition to judicial nominees--because of their abortion views--amounts, ipso facto, to religious discrimination. What we probably don't agree on is Senator Charles Schumer's reported claim that he objects to "anybody who had very, very deeply held views" serving on the federal judiciary. When politicians say things like that (and it always seems to be Democrats who say them), we know they are either intellectually confused or morally serpentine--or both. Was Brown v. Board of Education decided by men with lightly held views about racial bigotry? Given the record of insensitivity and outright antagonism toward religion among many Democratic leaders (which you have so richly recounted elsewhere), one can see why some conservatives would make the anti-Catholic charge--wrongly, in my view.

My point about Bush's nomination of John Roberts and Sam Alito was not to add fuel to this bonfire of suspicions. I think it simply was important, in our era of skepticism about deeply held religious views, for two exceptionally qualified men--with obvious religious commitments--to join the Supreme Court. You're right, of course, that it's not appropriate for public officials to base their positions "purely on religious teachings." But no one is making such a claim. (You say I'm "grasping at straws," but you're building straw men.) It is a measure of how debased much of liberalism has become--and removed from even Jefferson's views of these matters--when it cannot contemplate religious teachings offering one rationale among several for a given political position. This is the problem with Senators Schumer, Durbin, Kennedy, et cetera. I know you like French restaurants, Amy, but America isn't France, and that brand of secularism simply played no role in our constitutional order--thank heavens.

Read the entire article on the Ethics and Public Policy website (new window will open).

Posted: 31-Oct-06



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