"I'm personally grateful that the American Constitution is an essentially secular document - not because it protects atheists from rampaging Christianists, but because it allows orthodox Christians like myself to be loyal to America's government without requiring us to accept, whole hog, the not-quite-Christian political theology that has infused American political life from the Declaration of Independence onward. That's the beauty of our Constitutional order: It allows one to be American without being an Americanist," - Ross Douthat.
I should also respond to Ross' point about the threat of Christianism, that I elaborate in my book. It is not a threat to the Constitution as such, unlike, say, Cheney's views on neo-monarchical executive power. It is a threat to conservatism because it introduces religious fundamentalism as the core characteristic of the right and so distorts our politics into ever more uncivil culture wars. And its resistance to empirical debate, its assertion of constant absolutes, its unquestioning deference to authority, and its contempt for judicial checks on majority rule are threats to liberty and sound governance. The use of Christianism as a term - to repeat myself yet again - is not designed to suggest that James Dobson is a terrorist; it is to suggest that he sees the Gospels as political fodder for one political party and its agenda, and has interpreted the Gospels to include such matters as abortion, gay rights and end-of-life issues that the Gospels do not address and that are subject to much more doubt and nuance than the Christianists want. Although the Christianist interpretation of the founding of America can lead to a terribly distorted view of what America means, by and large, the Christianists' approach to the Constitution has been ... Constitutional. I.e. they need to amend it - and have tried on the matters of gay equality and abortion. I think that's a sign of how incompatible the Constitution is with religious fundamentalism writ large, but the Christianists in no way threaten the constitution in the way that Cheney, Bush and Giuliani do, in their eccentric views of total executive power in a war that is officially without end.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.