Sunday, May 01, 2005

It's not tearing down the wall, it's moving the wall

The separation of church and state debate has shifted hard to the anti-religious side.
As The Washington Times reported on Sunday (, the left sponsored a weekend conference in New York to discuss the "growing political threat" of the faith-based right.
And a Page One analysis (yes, analysis) in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday bore the headline "Right risks a backlash from fears of theocracy." ( This analysis asserted that religious conservatives are seeking "a judiciary that would remove the wall of separation between church and state."
As usual, because they do not bother to meet and know people in the faith-based right, they don't get it.
I, for one, have been pushed into the category of "faith-based conservative" because I deeply resent being told that principles that arise from one's faith cannot be aired in the public debate. The most egregious example of that was in 1992, when the Democratic Party (the vehicle for the anti-faith movement in the U.S.) banned the Democrat governor of a large state (Pennsylvania) from speaking at the party's national convention because, as a deeply-held matter of faith, he opposed unlimited abortion rights.
I also deeply resent that a person's "deeply held religious beliefs" are automatic grounds from disqualification from an appellate court position.
So, you see, the wall between church and state has been moved to a point where people of faith are excluded from the public debate. And it's past time to move it back.
I worry more about the separation of state and church. I do not want the state to interfere with the reasonable practice of one's religion. Religious leaders have a duty to their calling to speak out against what they see are injustices. Remember, most of the prophets of the Judeo-Christian heritage weren't exactly the most popular people of their days. Similarly, Mohammed himself made his share of enemies.
When the state attempts -- by veiled or direct threats -- to speak out, as the Canadian government did to Bishop Henry in Calgary, that is an unconscionable breach of the wall... but that's a breach that most of the left would not find disagreeable.
As for the "theocracy" bogeyman, there are two words... Get real. There are too many different groups that can be placed under the banner of the "faith-based right." Getting them to agree on much of anything would literally take an act of God. But there seems to be an agreement that it's time to stand up and bring the values they have incorporated from their faiths into the public arena. They deserve the right to be heard, just as the left deserves the right to be heard. Let the debate proceed on the merits, not on the bogeymen (although that's something the contemporary left doesn't do very well without descending to ad hominem attacks -- the first sign of essential weakness in your own point).
It's just another example of the "elite" trying to jam its views down our collective gullets. And it's more than time that they faced such a challenge.