Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Fly on the wall

I hadn’t looked at the Faithful Democrats site for awhile, and look what I missed! There’s quite a splenetic brouhaha that has emerged over the NYT article on Democratic consultant Mara Vanderslice that I mentioned here.

Well, an anti-theocrat smelled a rat, and went after Vanderslice. She responded here, and he replied. There’s more back-and-forth here, here, and here, as well as here.

The bottom line is that there is a substantial body of opinion on the left that insists upon a kind of church-state separationist orthodoxy, and regards any attempt to be more precise, actually mentioning the two religion clauses, as caving to the Religious right. Here are two examples of what I mean, the first from Rob Boston of Americans United:

The phrase came into being precisely because it is a useful way of summarizing the religion clauses of the First Amendment. To be frank, most people don’t know what “Establishment Clause” means, and to many, “free exercise” sounds like a special offer at the local gym. The phrase “separation of church and state” sums up in these concepts in a familiar and user-friendly way.


It would be a mistake to abandon the term. Polls show that most Americans support church-state separation. Only the extreme Religious Right groups want to tear down that wall.

The second comes from Frederick Clarkson, the aforementioned anti-theocrat:

What we are seeing in Common Good Strategies’ advice to drop separation of church and state because the phrase does not appear in the constitution is an utter capitulation to the religious right and its Christian nationalist interpretation of history and its approach to contemporary politics. It will not only be shocking, but will ignite a signficant struggle in the Democratic Party if clients of this fashionable consulting boutique abandon principles that are the product of centuries of effort to create a society in which people of differing religious views can get along with one another and enjoy equal rights under the law.

Get it? Any attempt at nuance, anything other than simple-minded separationism, amounts to a capitulation to the religious right. After all, the American people aren’t smart and careful enough to distinguish between, say, accommodation of religion in the public square and theocracy.

I have my own beefs with Vanderslice and the religious left, but they’re nothing compared to those of the anti-theocracy watchdogs.

Discussions - 4 Comments

The new, because American, anti-clericalism forms before our eyes. It didn’t work out so hot for France, whose soceital polarization finally crippled it in the 30s. The new anti-clericals don’t want to understand the Constitution, they don’t want to understand Madison and Jefferson, and they certainly don’t want to understand how actual religious conservatives live/think/believe. SEPARATION and THEOCRACY are their watchwords, by which they are determined to understand everything on this issue. Facts that don’t fit are simply rejected, simply fail to stick within their consciousnesses. Someone should do a psychological study on this fundamentalist disorder while it is still in its infancy. Or maybe, such a syndrome is best given a theological interpretation?

Mr. Clarkson is to be commended for his timely and principled opposition to the recent Ford burial services and the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

The Christianist Conspiracy is even worse than I feared. Did you know that hymns were sung...and in a "National Cathedral"?!!! And Rev. King received his doctorate in Theocracy from a state-accredited institution?!!!

None of us are safe until extremists and fundamentalist X-tians like Jerry Ford and Martin Luther King are banned from the public square. We need tolerance instead.

Carl and Marge nicely express my two decent responses to this mushy-minded but hostile mentality: analysis and mockery. Thanks.

These people are sanctimonious statists and postmodernists who happen to like a few of the teachings of Jesus. They are leftists who enjoy wearing dog collars. They need to be utterly discredited, but should never be taken seriously in an intellectual sense. They’re just the same old krap.

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