Archive for the ‘George McKenna’ Category

The Escondido Principle of Separation of Christianity and State – Reviewed

March 21, 2012

I was recently directed to this interesting review of Darryl Hart’s book (The book is titled: “A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State”):

Hart thinks the root error of Christians who try to bring their faith into the arena of politics is the failure to understand that it just doesn’t fit. Christianity is “essentially a spiritual and eternal faith.” It is “useless” for resolving “America’s political disputes” and, because of its intolerance of other faiths, “impractical if not damaging to public life.” Christian evangelicals of both left and right come in for criticism in Hart’s book, but the left—he includes Jimmy Carter and Jim Wallis in this category—gets blamed mainly for “lighting the fire of the culture wars,” thus legitimizing the right’s crusade to bring its version of Christian values into the political arena.

We get the drift of Hart’s own political orientation early on when he remarks that Sen. John Kerry, “an observant Roman Catholic,” was rejected by many voters because he “looked to be insufficiently devout.” That is a peculiar way of putting it. If looking to be devout were what Americans most wanted from politicians, Bill Clinton would have gotten 100 percent support in the 1992 election instead of the modest 43 percent he actually received. As for John Kerry, a number of polls have shown that the reason many people, not just Catholics, turned against him was not that he didn’t look sufficiently devout but that he opposed all attempts to outlaw the physical act of [graphic depiction of the murder of an infant omitted by T-Fan].

But that gets us into religion, Hart might say, and religion should be kept out of politics. Religion belongs in church, and the purpose of churches is mercy; politics has to do with the state, and the state’s purpose is justice. “To confuse the two is to misconstrue the bad cop (the state) and the good cop (the church).” Hart’s church is one that would be hard to locate in Western history. It has an abstract quality, reflecting very little of the actual traditions of Christian people. In this country, as ­Tocqueville was not the first or last to observe, Americans have kept Christian denominations separate from the state, but not Christian morality or culture.

There is more at the link above.  I have yet to see Hart’s response to this review. Doesn’t the description in this review resemble items 10 and 23 of Frame’s list

N.B. The credit line for the review was interesting: “George McKenna is professor emeritus of political science at City College of New York. His latest book is The Puritan Origins of American Patriotism (Yale).”  This should prevent (or at least alter) some of the ad hominem used by Hart against Frame for Frame’s review.


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