Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Godly Republic

Noah Feldman offers a measured but ultimately unfavorable review of John DiIulio’s Godly Republic.

Feldman picks at DiIulio’s characterization of the Founders, arguing that DiIulio, in effect, reads them through rose-colored glasses on religious matters. He’s right, though the line he draws is itself a little misleading. Madison did indeed oppose non-preferential aid to religious denominations in Virginia, but I’m not sure that we can conclude from that that he would have opposed non-preferential government contracting with faith-based (and secular) charities. Giving money to churches for "inherently religious" activities is one thing; funding their social service efforts is something else.

My own measured but ultimately unfavorable review of DiIulio’s book will appear in an upcoming CRB.

Discussions - 2 Comments

I just checked out DiIulio's book from my city library. Unfortunately, this one isn't owned by the library (cue snickers or sighs of relief), so I had to order it. I guess I should be thankful (to God?) that the situation wasn't reversed, as I wouldn't be terribly keen on buying a book by the "centrist" former head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (a true centrist in the Bush administration? Hmmm...not likely).

As for the DiIulio book's contents, I am quite curious how, as the reviewer says "[DiIulio] protests a recent court decision striking down a Prison Fellowship Ministries program, saying that no one is coerced to join it and no prosyletizing occurs" (emphasis mine). Reading the court's decision in that case, it's quite clear that prosyletizing did occur.

There are two far more important questions here. One, what does or doesn't the Constitution allow? Two, what is good public policy in our time, presuming what I believe to be the case, that the Constitution definitely allows most of this?

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