Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

That They May Have Life

Here’s the latest statement of Evangelicals and Catholics together, the theocrats as some would call them.  

Discussions - 12 Comments

No, not theocrats -- theocons.

Learn the lingo.

Distinction without a difference? And: should we let you define "us" and the lexicon of public discourse?

I doubt DL above is the actual DL. For the actual DL, Paul is right--theocon means theocrat.


I think it actually is Damon, who told me that he was visiting our website.


You may call them theocons, but others call them theocrats. You’re right that your term at least avoids the obvious misrepresentation.

Yes, it is me, Peter, Paul, and Joe (not Mary). I use the term "theocon" to draw a parallel with the neocons, while also distinguishing between the two groups. That’s how Jacob Heilbrunn used it when he coined the term back in 1996.

And guess what? I caught you not ignoring me.

Oh, boy, I think I’ll go warm-up my cup of coffee.....:-)

Hey guys,
Damon is right, Theocon is far and away the best desriptor(sp?)unless you’re a Kos/Atrios/DU believer.
Orrin Judd, blogging at
is probably the best representative we have.
BTW, it would seem none of the commenters have yet read the really challenging statement Joe references.

For evidence that a regular NLT reader has read it, go here.

"A culture is composed of many parts, but different cultures are distinguished by different understandings of reality, of the meaning of life and death, of rights and duties, of rights and wrongs." i.e. Ontological structure.

"To speak of American culture today is to speak of a culture marked by different worldviews in conflict." This follows from man/culture as an ontological/political being.

"We also share a common interest in sustaining the American experiment in its aspiration to be a free, just, and virtuous society." But of course we may not agree about what it means to be free or what justice is or what is virtuous because these ethical questions are tied up in our respective ontological starting points.

"There is no more inescapably public and political question than who belongs to the polis of which we are part." very true...

Ultimately a good essay...but it understands ontological structures without understanding them.

"There is today no rational disagreement that the child in the womb is, from conception, a living being that is undeniably a human being." this is simply not fact there is no rational agreement..and there is no rational agreement because there is no agreement on Ontology. In point of fact what Catholics call "natural law" is reason proceeding from an ontological structure. Your essay does a good job of spelling out this structure...but it nowhere follows that one can come to the same conclusion from different starting points(your quoting of Romans not withstanding.) Thus we have Jefferey Hart objecting to this and calling it ideology. But I also object to Jefferey Hart because I am more consistent in understanding the role of "ontological structure". When you say that "No life that is not a human being has the potential of becoming a human being, and no life that has the potential of becoming a human being is not a human being." You invite me to regress further to a discussion of the humaness of sperm and ovaries. Thus we have still not understood David Hume. That is to say that David Hume could be partially seen to be attempting a non-ontological "natural law".

Also when the common argument is put foward that "When this “right” and the lethal logic that supports it is established in law, there is no principled reason why it should not be applied to the “unwanted” at any point along life’s way, as advocates of eugenics, euthanasia, and assisted suicide logically contend." Well to this I say that you are claiming that another ontological stucture is "lethal logic" while your own is "principled reason". I am sure that Dr. Lawler would agree...studies show that people prefer "principled reason" over "lethal logic". But in point of fact David Hume could come up with a "principled reason" for distinguishing between eugenics, euthanasia and assisted suicide. Of course David Hume says that there is a right to suicide...and probably also a right to assisted suicide.

"The inescapably public question posed is whether we as a political community adhere to the founding proposition articulated in the Declaration of Independence that all people are endowed by their Creator with certain “unalienable rights,” beginning with the right to life" This is a great question...but once again what is the ontological structure of this "right to life"? For certainly it is not that which you argue it is...because the ontological structure throught which "unalienable rights" should be understood is without a doubt that of the Enlightment to include David Hume, but especially also John Locke.

In point of fact an honest answer would be that the author is attempting to turn the issue on its head. It is because the author doesn’t like the Lockean answer...why? Because the spirit of the constitution doesn’t make it the role of the government to take care of those in need. They like to call Lockeanism "creeping libertarianism"... why? long story short...because they are motivated by a different ontology.

So Damon Linker what do you think of the possibility of rational discourse between two different philosophical currents (David Hume’s de-ontological "natural law" and Catholic theology "natural law")who believe that the understanding of the "other" should be commited to the flames for containing nothing but sophistry and illusion?

In other there a religion or philosophy or science that is true and does not hold to the central commandment "though shall have no other Gods before me" and is thus blinded to all else? And was the pope really able to carry on a high level University discusion with those who believed that which he was tasked with studying did not exist?

Does anyone understand what I am trying to say?

Theocon is a bothersome label, although much less offensive than the puerile insult words "Christianist" and "theocrat." Why not just say religious conservative, or, faith-based social conservative? Yeah, such terms lacks the zing of quick lingo, but they seemed to work fine for a long time, and it’s generally how such people have referred to themselves.

Theocon did derive from neo-con, but why? Zingy, yes, but also because it implied theocrat. You hear theocon, you think, "close to a theocrat." Proof of the implied insult is the fact that no-one ever uses the word "theo-conservative," whereas neo-con is a mere abbreviation for neo-conservative, the real term.

Carl is right. It’s a lie that theocon is connected to neocon, except in zingy world. Nobody WOULD say theoconservative. So let’s not talk about anyone who talks about theocons.

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