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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

An Open Letter to Powerline Blog

To Paul Mirengoff,

Why would you hope that Brit Hume's recommendations to Tiger Woods, namely that Tiger dump Buddhism and become a Christian, be made "privately" next time?

Your entire blog is devoted to public analysis of the best political solutions available to the country and its leaders.

You believe your commentary to be a service, even though there is enormous disagreement among educated people about exactly what constitutes a "best political solution."

Why should the best religious solutions to various problems be any less publicly discussed?

The only reason it would be unnecessary is if there were no "best religious solutions" to various problems. Obviously, that would be true only if religion had no impact on the public sphere, no intrinsic merit. If all religions were the same in its effects, or if every religion and theology were similarly useless, then there would need be no public discussion of which religion is best suited to dealing with various public problems.

However, if various religions DO have intrinsic merit or impact, then it stands to reason that some will be more meritorious than others. Indeed, from your commentary, you seem to hold certain Western religious traditions in much higher esteem than a certain 7th century Middle-Eastern set of religious traditions.

So why should we publicly discuss only the intrinsic merits of various political or economic worldviews, but never publicly discuss the merits of religious worldviews? Especially given that Powerline has already done that?

You are certainly too intelligent to trot out the tired argument that religion starts wars.
Clearly, so do economics and politics. If we cut religion out of the public sphere on those grounds, then economics and politics would likewise be verboten.

You may argue that our country is built on some kind of "church-state" separation.
But again, you know perfectly well that
a) this is nowhere found in the Constitution
and
b) the person who put forward this theory (Thomas Jefferson) was not present at the framing of the Constitution - indeed, he had to have the document explained to him by James Madison, if I recall correctly. Furthermore, Jefferson was notoriously biased AGAINST various religious tenets, so he's hardly a fair witness to what the Constitutional framers intended in this regard.

You might argue that the country is pragmatically built around these Jeffersonian principles regardless of their Constitutional presence, but even that isn't true, since the legal principles only became firmly enshrined as a result of LBJ's shenanigans to get re-elected and stay re-elected.
These "principles" are arguably less than 50 years old.

Indeed, isn't your commentary against Brit Hume's public endorsement of Christianity itself a kind of religious commentary - the kind of commentary you so detest in others?

Aren't you essentially saying, "I can engage in religious commentary. Namely I can make the religious recommendation that others not publicly recommend a religious belief I don't happen to share."

I hope you're smarter than that.
I also hope you're less hypocritical than that.