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I am a huge fan of Heather MacDonald. Her recent stuff on religion is about the only material by her I can ever recall being out of sympathy with, although it’s thoughtful and interesting as usual, of course. Heather is an incredible asset to the conservative movement–and to the country. George Will rightly calls her “the indispensable pundit.” Nonetheless, I thought Michael Pakaluk’s “Doing Away with God” piece today on NRO was excellent. I have no interest in arguing theology. It’s fascinating, of course, and the issues couldn’t be more important when it comes to the stakes for all of us as individuals. But as a matter of politics, I think it’s much better–and as Pakaluk points out, much more conservative–for conservatives to put these theological arguments to one side and respect–even cherish–the long-standing American tradition that allows those who wish to give tribute to God to do so. Indeed, conservatives should welcome this. America’s secularists have grown in number, and become a good deal more ornery in the process. On the other hand, I can’t imagine any other time in American history when someone making Heather’s argument would have gotten treatment as respectful, even from the many religious conservatives (like Pakaluk and Michael Novak) who disagree with her. No way I’m giving up my membership in the Heather MacDonald fan club. But I may just have to start a “secularists for Pakaluk” fan club as well. Most of all, while this issue will no doubt have to run its course, I hope conservatives move on at some point to other, more productive arguments.


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