Freedom from Religion, [Inverted Exclamation mark]Si!

By Pollitt, Katha | The Nation, September 18, 2000 | Go to article overview

Freedom from Religion, [Inverted Exclamation mark]Si!


Pollitt, Katha, The Nation


"The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion," Senator Joseph Lieberman told a rapturous audience at a black church a few Sundays ago, just after being chosen as Al Gore's running mate. Given that the whole purpose of Lieberman's nomination was to detach Gore from Clinton's scandals by public displays of family values and sanctimoniousness, you can't blame him for starting right in--and so far the gambit seems to be working (Monica who?). Still, you would think the first Jewish major-party VP candidate in US history might hesitate to cast to the winds the traditional secularism of American Jews. And that's what the Anti-Defamation League thought too, rebuking Lieberman for excessive use of "expressions of faith." After all, right-wing Christians are the 800-pound gorilla of US church-state relations today, and given their triumphalism--"every knee shall bow" and all that--does one really need to encourage them? When a Jew endorses, or seems to endorse, an intrusive public role for religion, the Christian right is inoculated from charges of bigotry. No wonder Lieberman has drawn praise from Jerry Falwell and Jewish-banker-conspiracy fan Pat Robertson--even though, of course, they know he's going to hell for refusing to accept Christ as his personal savior.

But that's the official American civic religion at the opening of the twenty-first century: What religion you have may be your own business--rather literally so, in the case of Scientology--but it's society's business that you have one. Modernity may have eroded some of the distinctions between previously antagonistic belief systems--Quick! Explain the difference between Presbyterianism and Methodism!--as is suggested by the increasing replacement of the word "religion," with its connotations of dogma and in-groupness, by the warm, fuzzy propaganda term "faith." Facing the common enemy, secularism, devout Christians and Jews dwell lovingly on their similarities as part of a "Judeo-Christian" ethos, when historically the ethos of each faith was precisely that it wasn't the other--as Jews were recently reminded by the Pope's shameful beatification of Pius IX, a reactionary anti-Semite who not only forced Rome's Jews into a ghetto but virtually kidnapped a Jewish child secretly baptized by a servant and refused to return him to his family despite years of international protest.

In fact, Lieberman is wrong about the Constitution--it does protect us from religion. In their useful book The Godless Constitution, Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore remind us that the Founding Fathers carefully considered and rejected the idea of inserting religious language into the Constitution: "The nation's founders, both in writing the Constitution and in defending it in the ratification debates, sought to separate the operations of government from any claim that human beings can know and follow divine direction in reaching policy decisions." The Constitution specifically prohibits religious tests for political office; evidently Washington, Madison and Jefferson did not think civic virtue required belief in God. Still less did they sympathize with Bible-based politics. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Freedom from Religion, [Inverted Exclamation mark]Si!
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.