Archive for May 31, 2006

A Match Made Where?

May 31, 2006
My idea of "big government" is probably bigger than Andrew Sullivan’s. Politically, I’m somewhere to the left of him. But he understands what happens when religion and government mix and it isn’t pretty:
It’s a match made in heaven. There is, however, a serious point here. America’s long experience of religion as essentially suspicious of government power is an anomaly in the Western world. For much of European history, religion and government have always been interwoven. And as European governments have grown, European faith has withered. As a Catholic growing up in a country where the state church was Protestant, and where I attended Anglican services and listened to the Book of Common Prayer as an integral part of receiving a government-financed education, I saw this first hand. And, as an immigrant, I found America’s religious life a contrasting marvel. In America, faith seemed unconstrained by the compromises of government power and enmeshment, more alive because it was less enfeebled by the temptations of Caesar. 
It makes me shudder to think of a Catholic boy being forced by the government to say protestant prayers. It violates all that is holy, but then I’m an American. We are famous for thinking that–or we once were.