Public prayer with non-Christians is risky business, at least if you’re a Missouri Synod Lutheran. Pastor David Benke of the LCMS is going through a disciplinary process for having prayed at the interfaith “Prayer for America” service held at Yankee Stadium in September 2001 following the terrorist attacks. That event included Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.
Conservative christian activists have often been unwise or shortsighted in pushing their moral and religious claims in the public square, but their efforts have reminded secular folk that religious belief is decisive for individuals, institutions and societies. They have persuasively made the case that the constitutional disestablishment of religion does not mean the establishment of irreligion.
When Pope John Paul II spoke at World Youth Day in Toronto a month ago, he touched on the current crisis in the Catholic Church, admonishing his young audience to not be “discouraged by the sins and failings of some.” Instead, “think of the vast majority of dedicated and generous priests and religious whose only wish is to serve and do good.” That most priests and religious are worthy servants of
Imagine a state-run voucher program that allows parents to use their vouchers at any public or private school—a Montessori-style school, say, or a John Dewey–inspired “progressive” school, or an avowedly atheistic school, or a Catholic or Jewish school. Would such a program, by including religious as well as secular schools, constitute an illegal establishment of religion?
The U.S.’s stated plan to take out Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is deeply troubling. To begin with, the American people, including the leaders of Congress, have not been offered convincing evidence that Hussein is an imminent threat to the security of the U.S. or of Israel or of Iraq’s other neighbors. Further, it is not clear what would happen if Hussein were removed.
The United States is deeply divided regionally when it comes to violence, gun possession and the death penalty. Dividing the country into 11 different “nations” based on the predominant origins of its inhabitants and the resulting culture, Colin Woodard says Yankeedom (his label for the Northeast) and the Left Coast are most open to gun control and abolition of the death penalty. The Deep South, Appalachia, Tidewater and Far West regions contain the most adamant supporters of the Second Amendment and capital punishment, and they also have the highest rate of murders. If the deadlock between these two extremes is ever to be broken, it will come about through swing voters in the middle states (Tufts magazine, Fall).