The Corner

The one and only.

Stanley Kurtz’s Religion


I think there’s a lot to be said for Stanley’s argument on NRO today, but I think he betrays a misunderstanding of religion when he writes, ” A thoughtful skeptic would see . . . [that if] religious folk believe that God has forbidden a particular practice, then they must believe it because that practice really does undermine a critical social function.” But religious people can believe that God has forbidden a thing for any number of reasons, including reasons unknowable by us, that have nothing to do with the undermining of social functions. Kurtz also writes, “One way to think about religion is to see it as a system of approbation and repugnance that serves to protect the central institutions of a given society.” Sure, that’s one way to see it. But is it a good way? Religion can undermine a society’s central institutions, too, for example when it calls a corrupt society to reform.