Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Religion

God and Country in Manhattan

Ross Douthat points out that religion needs the aid of reason--America, with its insistence on natural rights and a civil religion based on it, is the case in point.  Conservatives should adopt this argument and not sound like low-grade liberals in pleading for "compassion" for the survivors and victims of 9/11.  They don't need compassion; they demand justice, and justice as the rule of law in turn requires the rule of reason.  Douthat:

The steady pressure to conform to American norms, exerted through fair means and foul [my note:  see Republican platform of 1856], eventually persuaded the Mormons to abandon polygamy, smoothing their assimilation into the American mainstream. Nativist concerns about Catholicism's illiberal tendencies [my note:  contrast Washington's letters to Catholics with those to the Jews] inspired American Catholics to prod their church toward a recognition of the virtues of democracy, making it possible for generations of immigrants to feel unambiguously Catholic and American.

Douthat also reminds us that the proposed Islamic Center's imam does not inspire confidence in his amenability to reason.  The problem of reason or natural law and Islam is elaborated on by Robert Reilly, whose work is essential on this issue.

Categories > Religion

Discussions - 2 Comments

Can you give us a more specific reference to Washington's letters to Catholics?

Richard, I don't have any on-line resource to give you (but check the Ashbrook on-line library) offhand, but the difference is that Washington is more concerned about Catholic loyalty than Jewish. See Bill Allen's collection of Washington's writings as a sample.

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