Thursday, August 19, 2004

Faith Matters to Public Life

By Charlotte Allen, to the source, August 4, 2004

"...Religion, by nature, is a public thing, because it acknowledges a reality that is outside the private realm of the inner heart. Individuals' faith and religious experiences are private matters, but religion itself, whether it be Wicca, Buddhism or Roman Catholicism, is shared and communal. Those who would banish religion to the realm of the strictly private in effect contend that religion has no relevance to public life. This notion fatally trivializes religion by treating it as essentially meaningless.

More important, religion recognizes there is inherent meaning, order and purpose in the universe. It thus induces humility; a recognition that our puny ideas about how things are and ought to be may not be the final word. The horror of 20th century totalitarianism was the insistence of atheistic, militantly secularist intellectuals, from Germany to Russia to China to Cuba, that they had a right to impose their pet utopian schemes at the point of a gun or threat of the gulag. Professing "allegiance … to a higher authority," as Robert Reich, secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration puts it, is a check on such murderous egotism..." (Read more here.)

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