The exact quote is:
Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure.Adding further lumination is this:
US Protestant theologian (1892 - 1971)
(Source: The Quotations Page)
Most Americans today view the Christian Coalition as a burden rather than as a positive influence on the political process. Comments such as religious right leader Randall Terry’s statement in 1992 that "to vote for Bill Clinton is to sin against God," have turned voters away from the Coalition’s social agenda. What bothers many people about the religious right is that it is a threat to their privacy. They would agree with essayist Mary McCarthy’s dictum that "Religion is only good for good people." The Coalition also challenges the traditions of religious diversity and its fringe elements have anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic backgrounds.
Equally damaging, the Coalition has given religion a bad name, precisely the effect that James Madison sought to avoid when he crafted the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution securing religious freedom and separating church and state. Reinhold Niebuhr wrote in Moral Man and Immoral Society that "Christianity at its best has leavened the natural egotism of groups and nations. . . . Christianity does not provide a political agenda but rather an underlying social conscience with which to approach politics. Religion plays its most constructive role precisely when church and state are separate. When the two are fused, however, . . . then religion becomes subordinate to politics. It becomes infected with the darker egoism of group and nation; it no longer softens and counters our ungenerous impulses but clothes them in holy righteousness."
The certainty of the religious right belies their fear that the world they knew and understood is a world that exists no longer. As Niebuhr noted, "Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure. Fundamentalism is, therefore, inevitable in an age which has destroyed so many certainties by which faith once expressed itself and upon which it relied." The religious right is a reflection more of religion’s weakness than its strength. A faith that requires the support of a government is an infirm faith. There is no law in the U.S. that inhibits conservative Christians from finding their God in their houses of worship or in their homes. They will flourish or not flourish according to the spiritual quality of their exertions. And politics is too small to intrude into the most exalted meanings of religious faith. [emphasis added]
David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.
Googling further I found Richard John Neuhaus of First Things suggesting TNR did not read Moral Man and Immoral Society and then goes on to write:
Under the auspices of the religious right, Judis mourns, religion "becomes infected with the darker egoism of group and nation; it no longer softens and counters our ungenerous impulses but clothes them in holy righteousness." Leaving aside whether there is some other kind of righteousness, I expect Niebuhr today would advise Mr. Judis to spare a generous impulse or two for millions of Americans who, knowing full well that they too are sinners, are justly fed up with being treated with contempt by political elites and have decided they aren't going to take it any more.
You will not that the quote Neuhaus attributes to Judis is in fact from Moral Man and Immoral Society. That seems to be rather more direct evidence that someone has not read MMIS. Perhaps Neuhaus doubt challenged - we owe him the benefit of the doubt, no doubt.A further google search did not turn up the source of the Niebuhr quotation. The quotation is used with frequency however with application to Dan Rather (with prescience, prior to memogate) and to the defenders of Bill Clinton.
Doubt bottled up can be explosive.