This blog explores and examines the intersections of rhetoric, race, and religion.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
How Liberals Abandoned Religion to the Fundamentalist Right
Last week the Supreme Court stretched the boundaries of religious expression in the public sphere when it ruled—in a 5-4 decision split largely along ideological lines—that municipalities are constitutionally permitted to commence their official meetings with overtly Christian benedictions.
Writing for the majority in the case of Greece v. Galloway, Justice Anthony Kennedy called legislative prayer a benign and enduring part of the American tradition. So long as it does not “denigrate, proselytize, or betray an impermissible government purpose,” he argued, public prayer “lends gravity to public business, reminds lawmakers to transcend petty differences in pursuit of a higher purpose, and expresses a common aspiration to a just and peaceful society.”
It’s a lovely sentiment, if only it reflected the America in which most of us live.
Rather than serving as a unifying force, the public dialogue around faith has become increasingly contentious over the past 40 years. If religious expression was once the glue that bound men together, today it is just as likely to be the cudgel that breaks them apart.