Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Howard Dean's Papal Bull

Eugene Volokh says that Howard Dean has announced the theology of the Democratic Party. Here's what Dean said:

"This country is not a theocracy," Dean said. "There are fundamental differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party believes that everybody in this room ought to be comfortable being an American Jew, not just an American; that there are no bars to heaven for anybody; that we are not a one-religion nation; and that no child or member of a football team ought to be able to cringe at the last line of a prayer before going onto the field."

Professor Volokh has what we might call a jurisdictional problem with this. It is one thing for Dean to call for civic equality, but quite another for him to make an assertion about salvation. Political parties ought to support the former, but should have nothing to say about the latter.

I actually think Dean was trying to make a secular claim but he's not very good when talking about religion. Still, given the regnant view of church and state among the American left, it may be impossible for him not to make a theological statement as well.

If you believe that government ought to do a lot of things for people, e.g., teach their children about morality and sex, cure their chemical dependencies, enforce attitudes about homosexuality, etc. (and, to some extent, we all believe this now), then what it does will raise questions to which religious people have faith-based responses. To rule out those responses, is to imply a judgment about them, i.e., they are wrong or irrelevant. That is a theological position.

Of course, Dean's statement about Republicans is silly. The GOP does not take the position that we are a one-religion nation or that non-Christians are bound for damnation. But we pay attention to the Governor more for typology than instruction.


Anonymous said...

So, taking a position on any issue is apparently a theological proposition?

Anonymous said...

Joe c, are you retarded?
You are clearly not very bright.
Joe, are you aware of your own name???
Probably not. You're probably PUBLIC SCHOOL MATERIAL!
Care to bet? Joe??