Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Fresh Pew transcript

Featuring John C. Green, Amy Sullivan, and Ross Douthat talking about religion, politics, and the 2006/2008 elections. It’s a relatively quick read and offers some interesting, though not profound, analyses. Near the end, Sullivan and Douthat offer examples of Democratic and Republican politicians who "get it" regarding religion.

Discussions - 3 Comments

"Religion" doesn’t matter much in American politics, because "religion" in America is private. In good American fashion, it means what people want it to mean. That’s why all this talk on NLT about the religion/politics nexus is a tempest in a teapot.

Sure, some liberals find it pleasant to attend church. Others recognize that it makes people feel good. Others see that it’s politically stupid and callous to openly speak ill of religion, so they make the polite noises, especially in the "hick" areas. Still others believe Jesus was more or less a socialist. Some even believe in actual Christian doctrine,
but are nonetheless doctrinaire liberals, which is possible.

The real issue isn’t whether some pols in the Democratic party are smart or sensitive or just plain psychologically normal enough to occasionally show a vague friendliness to "religion." That is completely uninteresting. The real issue is whether they will state and mean socially conservative positions, hell, just anti-ACLU positions, on real issues. By "mean," I mean vote for a real bill, perhaps even a real judicial nominee, that the bosses in the Democratic party seriously oppose.


I think you’re correct (I almost said right) about the range of opinions regarding religion on both sides of the aisle, but I disagree with you about the "privacy" of American religion. It wasn’t understood to be private at the time of the founding, and it’s hard for anything that makes claims about the meaning of life and about our duties to one another to be put into a neat box.

I also agree that religious liberals have to be pressed on their fidelity to certain moral principles/religious teachings. Some things are matters of prudential judgment, others aren’t.

I appreciate the positive comment.
Let me explain on our disagreement here: I think religion should be more public -- that is, should have more common agreement among its followers, and more connection to the political realm -- than it is now. In this respect as in so many, the Americans of the Founding Era had it right and we have it wrong. I’m just saying that as Americans live and think today, it IS private.

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