The Corner

The War and Fma

Andrew Sullivan writes that Bush’s FMA endorsement contradicts the war

on terrorism. It divides us when we need unity. More important, he says

that what we are fighting for in the war is the separation of religion

and politics, the equality of citizens, freedom of conscience, freedom

generally, “the sanctity of the Constitution,” and a “way of life”

defined by those things. This amendment goes, he says, against all of

the above. Now if I thought that the FMA really was a violation of

freedom of conscience and the equality of citizens, I’d be against

it—and, more importantly, I’m sure the president would, too, if he believed that. It seems

to me that one of the things we are fighting for is the ability of

citizens to reach different conclusions about what “freedom of

conscience,” “equality,” and the like entail, rather than having them

dictated to us–for the right to have a substantial political debate. For

democracy, not rule by unelected clerical or judicial councils.

Sullivan writes, “I grew up in a country where there was no separation

of church and state and had to attend a public high school that was

anathema to my own religious faith. America has therefore always

signified religious and political freedom to me.” He grew up in Britain,

right? I like the way we handle religion and government better than

Britain’s, too. But Britain is a free society, and it is worth fighting

for against terrorists. Is there a “contradiction” in Blair’s being on

our side? If America had been attacked by Islamist extremists back when

we had school prayer (and banned abortion!), it would still have been

worth fighting the war on terrorism. There are people who think that we

have to get rid of “In God We Trust” if we are not to be “theocratic.” I

don’t think they’re right. But I’m even more sure it has nothing to do

with the war.


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