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Saturday, August 06, 2011

"How to Respond to 'The Response'"

Here is the op-ed I mentioned in my post below, which appears in Saturday's New York Times.  Just to make one thing perfectly clear: I am not saying Perry's actions raise no possible Establishment Clause issues, although I am not positive where I stand on the outcome.  I'm saying that treating them only as an Establishment Clause issue is a mistake.  It reduces our discussion to a binary, on-off kind of thing, rather than thinking about ways that we can actually engage religion in public life on its own terms -- in useful, welcoming, but also potentially very critical ways.  Needless to say, if you want to know more about my general views on such issues, you should obviously buy my book (see the right-hand side of the Prawfs page), which makes a delightful back-to-school gift.   

Posted by Paul Horwitz on August 6, 2011 at 12:14 AM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


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"Moreover, by trying to banish religion from the public sphere, Mr. Perry’s critics end up cutting themselves out of the debate."

This is a strawman. I'm a critic of Perry. I in no way want to "banish" religion from the public square. I don't think you can even realistically do that. How is such hyperbole helpful?

The op-ed does call to mind Damon Linker's book, "The Religious Test."

"I'm saying that treating them only as an Establishment Clause issue is a mistake."

Few do. I read about this in the political blog Talking Post Memo. The general sentiment was not constitutional. It was that he was wrong for so strongly mixing his public role with specific religious doctrine, particularly given the event is not overly inclusive. I don't recall the focus being that he was doing something "unconstitutional" as such.

"Some people think we would be better off without religion in public life."

Not too many. What more are concerned about is the level or exclusive nature of some of the religion in public life. How many are upset Obama makes religious references? They know he is inclusive about it, even including nonbelievers in his speeches. It is like the case Dahlia Lithwick discussed in Slate recently. Legislative prayers are accepted, but when most of them are Christian, it's a problem.

I don't even know from your remarks if you even would support the lawsuit in question, even though I'm sure the people involved didn't JUST do that. They spoke out as others of their ilk so in other ways.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 6, 2011 8:40:53 AM

Always a pleasure reading a Prawf in the NYT, Paul.

Posted by: Brendan Maher | Aug 6, 2011 7:36:17 AM

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