- Blumenthal in The Nation (April 26): "Senate majority leader Bill Frist appeared through a telecast as a speaker at 'Justice Sunday,' at the invitation of the event's main sponsor, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. 'Justice Sunday' was promoted as a rally to portray Democrats as being "against people of faith." Many of the speakers compared the plight of conservative Christians to the civil rights movement. . .
[T]here is more at stake here than the fate of the filibuster. With Justice Sunday, Perkins's ambition to become a national conservative leader was ratified; Bill Frist's presidential campaign for 2008 was advanced with the Christian right; and the faithful were imbued with the notion that they are being victimized by liberal Democratic evildoers."
- Taranto in WSJ's Opinion Journal (May 5): "I am not a Christian, or even a religious believer, and my opinions on social issues are decidedly middle-of-the-road. So why do I find myself rooting for the "religious right"? I suppose it is because I am put off by self-righteousness, closed-mindedness, and contempt for democracy and pluralism--all of which characterize the opposition to the religious right. . .
This procedural high-handedness is of a piece with the arrogant attitude the secular left takes toward the religious right. Last week a Boston Globe columnist wrote that what he called "right-wing crackpots--excuse me, 'people of faith' " were promoting "knuckle-dragging judges." This contempt expresses itself in more refined ways as well, such as the idea that social conservatism is a form of "working class" false consciousness. . .
Curiously, while secular liberals underestimate the intellectual seriousness of the religious right, they also overestimate its uniformity and ambition. The hysterical talk about an incipient "theocracy"--as if that is what America was before 1963, when the Supreme Court banned prayer in public schools--is either utterly cynical or staggeringly naive."
- Blumenthal on his blog (May 6): " James Taranto confirmed my theory about his support for the Christian right: he sees them as little more than a political utility to the top-heavy, pro-big business wing of the Republican party which he represents. Indeed, while Bush's most controversial judicial picks espouse all kinds of obscurantist views on social issues, they are also corporate tools who would eliminate any regulations they could. . .
Translation [Blumenthal claims Taranto embedded a hidden argument]: "I am not religious, but those folks who call themselves the religious right got a bunch of Republicans elected. And I sure am Republican. Back in Goldwater's day, all we had we're rich geezers and conspiratorial Birchers. But thanks to abortion and homo-hate, we got poor people on our side. Thank you, Jesus! . . .
And I fail to see how the Christian right's inherent contradictions prove it's not a theocratic movement. . . As I said yesterday, true conservatives (if there are any left) ignore the Christian right's theocratic intentions at their own peril."
- Taranto in WSJ's Best of the Web (May 9): "Last week we refuted hysterical left-wing fears that the "religious right" will transform America into a 'theocracy.'
Blumenthal claims . . . the [now-defunct] Moral Majority was a theocratic movement, but in fact it reinforces our argument about the religious right: that it is "a highly ecumenical group, united on some issues of morality and politics but deeply divided on matters of faith. The thought that they could ever agree enough to impose a theocracy is laughable."
- Blumenthal on his blog (May 9): "I want to refute what Taranto wrote but I can't figure out what he's saying. Call me an "idiot," but his argument just doesn't make any sense. I expected so much more from the Wall Street Journal's opinion page, the same outlet that, in a March 18, 1993 editorial called "No Guardrails," blamed the assassination of Dr. David Gunn by an anti-abortion fanatic on...the New Left.
If Taranto's still reading, I hope he's ready to continue in his role as a corporate propagandist posing as the Christian right's house apologist while unwittingly acting as my publicist."
Ignoring the descent into illogic, Taranto has the better case, especially this passage:
I am not a Christian, or even a religious believer, and my opinions on social issues are decidedly middle-of-the-road. So why do I find myself rooting for the "religious right"? I suppose it is because I am put off by self-righteousness, closed-mindedness, and contempt for democracy and pluralism.This parallels an argument I proffered last week:
I'm not an evangelical Christian; I'm against compelled prayer in public schools. But I've never understood the anxiety of rational secularists. . .My core complaint about secularism is their un-concealed mission unilaterally to reverse laws motivated, in whole or part, by faith. For example, in supporting gay marriage, boomr claims the First Amendment bars laws lacking a secular justification: "There is simply no non-religious purpose to the law. Such a viewpoint should not control the government." Put differently, boomr advocates adding a legislative burden unequally to some viewpoints but not others. There's a specialized, possibly obscure, legal term-of-art for boomr's plan--unconstitutional discrimination:
[T]he Christian Right isn't a threat. Indeed, most are a positive influence. So, I've returned to Pascal's Wager, which I've updated (though it was pretty good in itself). My modern version is: Who's controlling my feeding tube? This approach was inspired by agnostic liberal Eleanor Smith of Decatur, Georgia: "I would rather have a right-wing Christian decide my fate than an ACLU member."
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. United States Constitution, Amdt 14, Section 1.There's another more general quip involving a baby. . .and some bathwater. . .well, never mind.
Much as I'd like, dingo and boomr can't be ignored. Though the Supreme Court historically refused to demote religious or moral reasoning, see Employment Div., Ore. Dept. of Human Res. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872, 890 (1990) ("Values that are protected against government interference through enshrinement in the Bill of Rights are not thereby banished from the political process."), recent cases signal a change. Indeed, in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 538 (2003), a five judge majority suddenly said the Constitution foreclosed legislation:
shaped by religious beliefs, conceptions of right and acceptable behavior, and respect for the traditional family. For many persons these are not trivial concerns but profound and deep convictions accepted as ethical and moral principles to which they aspire and which thus determine the course of their lives. . . The issue is whether the majority may use the power of the State to enforce these views on the whole society through operation of the criminal law. "Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code." Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833, 850 (1992).Lawrence wasn't about religious freedom--the majority relied on "liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions," whatever that means. Still, by transforming courts into Congress, morals and faith soon may exceed their sell-by date--then restocked with religious discrimination.
The Constitution provided a process to resolve conflicting opinions, and outlawed both "official" religions and religious discrimination. Conservatives opinion -- including the non-religious Taranto and me -- hasn't budged. In contrast, the post-modern left's at the threshold of devaluing "old time religion" in favor of judicially imposed secularism. All I want is a vote--but democracy's apparently a secular heresy and proof of impending theocracy.
How the heck did we get here?
Libertarian Dale Franks: "There is no theocracy in America."
Kate Adell also can't see the supposedly impending theocracy. She's motioned to the bench for the underused Trilateral Commission--fine as a back-up center, but I'd still put Illuminati at point guard.