Parker, Steorts & Me

by Shannen W. Coffin

Jason suggests I am reading into Parker’s writings an absolutism that isn’t supported by her text.  I’m not sure that’s right — why question the Rick Warren debate if some discussion of religion (or even in a religious forum) is proper in the public debate?  In any event, my point certainly wasn’t the opposite — that religious justifications are the only appropriate subject for public discourse.  Naturally, such an approach would exclude all forms of well intentioned non-believers.  And Parker is certainly correct that we need to be able to muster the most persuasive arguments to bolster our policy preferences.  The point is simply that Parker seems to be on a mission to purge religious conservatives from the conservative movement (or more specifically, from the GOP).  It seems to me that if the party lost its faith, so to speak, the loss to the party would be much greater than the damage she fears — alienation of the center caused by religious conservativism.  Watching the presidential race this fall, it was pretty apparent that social issues was one of the few areas of real difference left between the parties.  Why religiously motivated social conservatives would stick around the party without that distinction is difficult to see.  I’m simply not sure why she thinks that the big tent should not tolerate those who might want to use the tent to stage a revival.

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