Saving our republic from the theocrats

Christopher Hitchens writing in the Wall Street Journal, wants to “save the Republic from shallow, demagogic sectarians.” He’s referring to elements of the Christian right. However, he neglects to provide much evidence that these elements pose any threat to the Republic (I don’t count as evidence Barry Goldwater’s annoyance, at the end of his career, with lobbying by the Moral Majority).
In fact, the only evidence Hitchens offers is the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. However, he fails to show that this policy is the product of religious views about the sinfulness of homosexuality, as opposed to the military’s view that the policy makes for a better functioning military.
Of course, some people do rely on religious teachings to justify their view that openly gay individuals should not be permitted to serve in the military. How does Hitchens propose to deal with that? Surely, he’s not advocating that this view be silenced. More likely, he believes that policy makers have an obligation to ignore it. But Hitchens writes as moralistically as any pundit. His views of what is moral don’t stem from Christianity (nor do mine), but they must be rooted in some core values and beliefs. On what grounds does he contend that policy makers should consider moral judgments founded in his belief system but ignore on principle those grounded in fundamentalist Christianity?
Our secular society traditionally has permitted, and been willing to consider, arguments founded on nearly all belief systems. However, in the aftermath of the 2004 election, our elites are concerned that the values of Christian fundamentalists are doing too well in our market place of ideas. They are alarmed even though religious values are serving more as a brake on cultural reform than a vehicle for overturning the left’s past advances. That’s considered reason enough to try to shut them out of the debate.
James Taranto develops some of these themes in explaining why he’s “rooting for the religious right.” He emphasizes that the religious right has acted “in good civic-minded” fashion. Indeed, it can be argued that religious conservatives have demanded less from the Republican party than the left demands from the Democrats.


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