Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Godless Constitution Chapter 9 - George W. Bush and the Wall of separation

What does it mean to have a President who believes that he is doing God's will?

Can God's will be changed by new evidence coming forward? By scientific surveys? By sociological studies? By foreign intelligence?

By the will of the American people?

If God's will is clear and the President knows that will, how could he allow the voice of the people to override God's will?

Now I don't know if President Bush looks at it this way. I would think in some areas he probably does (the war, for example) and in other areas not as much. But it is something to think about, particularly given the way he has melded his political discourse to a certain religious argument.

The authors discuss how the tight intertwinning of religion and political values has hurt our national discourse. The Republican Right has done what it can to set up "Secular" and "Religious" as opposites, forever hostile to each other. They have also successfully, more or less, made Moral a synonym for Christian Conservatives. They deplore both developments.
We need then to view our moral language as common property, not as something that belongs to people of a particularly religion or to people of no religion. Our state is a secular one, which renders moral debate in the public sphere as something different from a theological inquiry into the nature of God's will. At the same time, self-styled secularists should never imagine that they have nothing to learn from people of faith or that the moral passion of evangelical Christians never speaks to issues that concerns them.
I think this sums up the book; Kramnick and Moore are not arguing that Christians need to be removed from the public stage (despite the paranoid fantasies of a few of them). Merely this is an argument that they are going to have to share that stage with Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Agnostics and Atheists.

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