Ian Reifowitz in TNR
starts out with the premise that "the primary domestic threat to American pluralism comes from the Christian right, . . . " I don't subscribe, so I couldn't read the whole thing. However, Hugh Hewitt
read large parts of it on his show and posted quotes on his website. It includes allegations about evangelical Christians running amok at the Air Force Academy, violating the separation of church and state.
It makes me wonder if this guy isn't taking "Onward, Christian Soldiers" a little too literally.
The problem for this kind of attack is that most people know at least a couple of born-again Christians and they aren't the boogiemen that people like Reifowitz portray. Christians believe in the Sermon on the Mount, as has been emphasized by everybody since Justin, the first Christian apologist, and while they may go over the top in political rhetoric, you have to remember that it's in an atmosphere where the Establishment Clause is assumed. There is a difference between testifying about your beliefs and trying to destroy the rights of others to accept or reject it.
When I was in law school, I read a famous law review article
by Samuel Warren and Louis D. Brandeis called "The right to be let alone," which was very influential, because Brandeis became a Supreme Court justice and made it part of the Constitution, leading to Roe v. Wade
decision and since then to our current enthrallment to Privacy as "the hobgoblin of little minds." (That last phrase is from Emerson, not Brandeis.) At the time, I recognized the appeal of the argument, but also the ways it could get out of hand. My forebodings have been born out.
Privacy is now equated with the rights stated in the Declaration of Independence. That thinking is now being brought to bear against religious activities and any kind of conservative standards for what behavior is allowed in public, even though those who believe in traditional values would maintain that it is liberals, with their demonstrations, Vagina Monologues
and harangues by radical professors, who won't let the rest of us alone. Mormons walking into their semiannual general conferences in Salt Lake City must now pass a gauntlet of angry demonstrators denouncing them and their faith, because court decisions have made the First Amendment more important than the basic rules of living together in society. This issue is the subject of a thoughtful essay at Amor Mundi
, which notes, "Louis Brandeis�s definitive and celebrated formulation of the right to privacy surely threatens quite as much as it secures in its pithy negativity, unless it is buttressed by a host of positive formulations." I expect that I would disagree with the author, Dale Carrico, a PhD candidate at U.C. Berkeley on much else, but I agree that the subject of privacy needs to be thought about in detail before we start invoking it on everything.