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Bigoted Democrats Reject Science When It Comes From The Religious Right

Ruth Marcus and others argue that the pro-life case based on science but informed by personal religious beliefs must be rejected.


Forty years ago, the late Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, founding editor of First Things, published The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America. In that influential book, Neuhaus argued that our nation’s public discourse had been emptied of religion to such a degree that arguments motivated by — and perhaps even citing — religious belief were no longer welcome.

If only Neuhaus had lived to witness the comments of left-wing establishment elites such as Washington Post editorial board member Ruth Marcus or Politico reporter Heidi Przybyla. He’d learn that we no longer have a public square denuded of religious language, but one openly antagonistic toward even religious conservatives who make purely secular arguments.

Marcus Engages in Bigotry

In a Mar. 6 Washington Post op-ed, Marcus took aim at pro-life religious conservatives who argue for fetal personhood. Marcus observes that the movement in favor of defending unborn babies as persons “arose mostly out of Christian theology and beliefs about ensoulment.” However, Marcus acknowledges, this movement’s most articulate spokesmen, such as Princeton academic Robert P. George, present their position based on verifiable science, given that the organism created from the union of human sperm and human egg is a “genetically distinct entity,” and thus “entitled to legal and moral respect” (Marcus’ words). Indeed, Marcus is even willing to grant that there is a “certain intellectually consistent clarity” in George’s argument.

Yet, says Marcus, the fetal personhood movement is misguided and erroneous, but not on scientific or logical grounds. Rather, she claims, “however much antiabortion advocates insist that their view is rooted in science, they also tend to be guided by a religious philosophy with which other Americans simply disagree.”

Let those words sink in. Marcus is arguing that, yes, those who claim unborn human life should be legally protected as persons make their arguments based on science, but such claimants are typically informed by personal religious beliefs. Thus whatever the strength of those arguments, they must be rejected. And that, dear reader, is an act of not-so-subtle prejudice and bigotry.

What Marcus is arguing, and what presumably many of her Democrat allies also believe, is that even if religious people make political arguments in the public square aimed at the lowest common denominator of the American public — say, by referring to science or logic —  their arguments are invalid, simply because those people might be informed by religious belief. Such a remarkable claim, one that has no basis in our religiously neutral, if not generally religion-friendly constitutional order, is both prejudicial and inconsistent.

Marcus’ claim is prejudicial because it effectively means that religious people are barred from participating in our republican government. After all, whatever opinions they have on anything, those opinions might be influenced by religious belief and thus cannot be imposed on others.

Her claim is inconsistent because the left quite obviously does not apply this standard to any of its own opinions. Do Marcus and her political cohort dismiss those in favor of more liberal immigration policies or social welfare programs because they might be informed by religious beliefs about “welcoming the stranger and alien” or caring for the downtrodden and oppressed? Of course not. Quite the opposite. Moreover, are we really to believe that the political opinions of Marcus, a self-professing Jew, are in no way influenced by her own religious beliefs?

An Anti-Religious Prejudice Problem

Of course, Marcus is not alone in this sentiment. Politico reporter Heidi Przybyla in a late February appearance on MSNBC sought to eviscerate so-called “Christian nationalists” who “believe that our rights as Americans, as all human beings, don’t come from any earthly authority.” She also cited natural law, “a pillar of Catholicism,” that has been applied to such political questions as civil rights but is now also being “misinterpreted” in relation to abortion and gay marriage.

Though Przybyla walked back some of her absurd comments on Christian nationalism, her opinions on religious conservatives and the public square are substantiated by other comments of hers in recent months. In a December Politico article, Przybyla claimed that conservatives (including, again, Robert P. George, apparently the left’s new favorite bogeyman) are attempting to infuse sectarian dogma into the judiciary through amicus briefs, a long-standing legal tradition oft used by both left and right. As a recent Daily Signal piece wryly notes, according to Przybyla, apparently only leftists are permitted to be “friends of the court.”

Yet one need not look far to identify similar liberal establishment apocalyptic warnings about Christian nationalists’ supposed threat to democracy. PBS, The Nation, the Brookings Institute, and the Center for American Progress, among many other media outlets and prominent liberal organizations, are sounding the alarm about a supposed Christian nationalist takeover of the government that will inaugurate a dystopia reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Similar voices in The New York Times have for years been expressing concern about the threat posed by “natural law” theory, even claiming that rather than being a socio-political theory based on scientific and rational data accepted by people of all religious opinions, it is actually a Trojan Horse for white nationalism. Ancient Chinese philosopher and moralist Confucius or Augustine, a theologian and political theorist of North African Berber background, both of whom were ancient expositors of natural law theory, would find such claims risible.

Beyond the Naked Public Square

Neuhaus’ concerns about a naked public square proved both prescient and insufficient. Prescient, because at least as far as the echo chambers of our left-wing establishment are concerned, our public discourse is not only shorn of religious content but even openly antagonistic toward opinions possibly informed by conservative religious beliefs, even if the arguments offered in the public square are logically tight and irenically presented.

Alternatively, Neuhaus’ analysis seems insufficient because, far from being a naked public square, our elites very much welcome religiously influenced opinions, as long as they are the “correct” opinions. If your religious beliefs lead you to be pro-choice, pro-in vitro fertilization, or pro-immigration, then corporate media will warmly cover you and your story to further their own political agenda.

Indeed, as I’ve argued elsewhere, Democrats have been quite successful in imposing their own left-wing integralist political vision on our body politic, often in explicitly religious language. Perhaps if establishment elites such as Marcus and Przybyla could be a bit more self-aware, they’d see their own culpability in that liberal integralist project, and recognize that many religious conservatives, far from being a threat to our disestablished political regime, are making a good-faith effort to save it.

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