Divide and Conquer

At the very moment when the Evangelical community in this country is fracturing over Dobson’s remarks on the Bible, the Obama campaign rolls out support for so-called “faith-based” initiatives.

Widening the fissure in the most important bloc of the Republican base could increase the potential for a landslide even further. Using disavowed surrogates to blast McCain on his alleged national security credentials, along with the disastrous economy may neutralize the only issue where McCain has a perceived advantage.

First Obama took his issues; now he’s taking his voters.


Just in case you haven’t seen my theory that I always think of everything second, check out this blog entry at TNR. The title is even the same.

My conclusion is different than the TNR author, who thinks this is bad policy. Personally, I think there is much more gray in the Constitutional limits separating “Church” and state than we experience in other important Constitutional rights, like privacy, search and seizure, habeas corpus and the like.

Put differently, giving money to programs administered by religious organizations to carry out missions that are authorized by (secular) public policy, as long as it is confessionally neutral, doesn’t really pose a problem for me.

The problem arises when the government becomes an agent of religious policy.

Finally, I would add as a non-Constitutional argument that there is no real connection between an established Church and freedom from religion in public. Very liberal countries like Finland, Sweden, and England have established churches and freedom of religion; yet all of those places are almost entirely devoid of a powerful religious lobby on issues affecting public policy.

Our country, however, is exactly the opposite. Instead of the historical established church suppressing the religion of others, we have a conglomerate of many churches, evangelicals, mormons, right-wing Jewish groups like Chabad, and Catholic groups seeking to break down this separation. Indeed, religious participation in this country is higher than in anywhere else in the developed world.

So, ask yourself: is the separation of church and state bad for state and good for church or vice versa? The evidence seems to bear out the opposite of the seemingly obvious conclusion.