Some have dismissed the culture wars as a sideshow. Andrew Hartman insists that the issues at stake in cultural politics are real.
The reevaluation of liberal Protestantism and its real but perhaps overstated decline—a topic that the Century has covered with this review, and related commentary by Martin Marty and by John Buchanan—was picked up by the New York Times this week. The Times story does a decent job summarizing the debate, in which the overarching question is posed by historian David Hollinger (interviewed by the Century last year): Did liberal Protestants of midcentury win the culture war but lose the church?
In April 1993, the FBI siege on the Branch Davidian compound ended in disaster. The event still casts a long shadow on our divided nation.
The Chick-fil-A hullaballoo is a sad commentary on our society. It is a proxy war for the civil discourse we’re unable or unwilling to have over the issues that deeply divide us. I'm not opposed to peaceful demonstrations; I've participated in some myself over the years. But remember Newton's third law of motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That’s what we've seen here.