Monday, October 15, 2012
This blog post, "Of Babies and Beans," at The New Yorker, has already been noted at both First Things and Commonweal. In the post, Adam Gopnik says some strikingly wrongheaded things (in addition to a variety of offensive and snarky things about various politicians he doesn't like) about abortion ("It is conscious, thinking life that counts"), but also characterizes as "disturbing and scary" Rep. Ryan's (I would have thought) unremarkable observation that “I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do.” Here's Gopnik:
That’s a shocking answer—a mullah’s answer, what those scary Iranian “Ayatollahs” he kept referring to when talking about Iran would say as well. Ryan was rejecting secularism itself, casually insisting, as the Roman Catholic Andrew Sullivan put it, that “the usual necessary distinction between politics and religion, between state and church, cannot and should not exist.” . . .
. . . Our faith should not inform us in everything we do, or there would be no end to the religious warfare that our tolerant founders feared.
Of course, Ryan did not say that the "distinction between politics and religion" or the distinction (which is different) between "church and state" "should not exist"; and there is nothing mullah-ish about the statement that faith "informs" people's public lives. He didn't say that the positive law should enforce religious teachings or require religious practices, and there's nothing contrary to "secularism" (properly understood) in his statement.