When he was running for president, George W. Bush decried “nation building.” It was not the task of the U.S., he insisted, to bring order to chaotic countries. The U.S. may be the global cop, but it is not the global social worker.
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?
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran had his brother hand deliver a check for $400,000 last month to Tehran’s only Jewish hospital with the message that “our government intends to unite all ethnic groups and religions, so we decided to assist you.” In September Rouhani’s administration had issued a Rosh Hashanah greeting to Jews around the world. Though some question Rouhani’s motives, his behavior is a refreshing contrast to that of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is a Holocaust denier (New York Times, February 6).