Wednesday, May 11, 2005

When Columnists Cry 'Jihad' - WaPo

Yet most of what became the great East Coast universities (Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Columbia and Yale among them) were, in cold fact, founded by men of faith and prayer for purposes that were informed and motivated by explicitly biblical principles. If Prof. Krugman were to read some of their faith-based pronouncements -- many of them as much stronger than typical modern evangelical utterance as rum is from root beer -- it would surely curl his hair. Timothy Dwight, the president under whose mind and hand Yale made the turn from a college to a university, wrote a hymn quite unabashedly titled "I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord." Dwight was a prodigious scholar and a monumental figure in the history of Yale, altogether unbelamed by his evangelical fervor.

In the long journey from the matchless moment when I became "born again" and encountered the risen and living Christ, I have met hundreds of evangelicals and a good many practicing Catholics and have found them to be of reasonable temperament, often enough of impressive accomplishment, certainly not a menace to the republic, unless, of course, the very fact of faith seriously held is thought to make them just that. It is said, again and again and again, that the evangelical/Catholic right is out of accord with the history of our republic, dangerously so. What we are out of accord with is not that history but a revisionist version of it vigorously promulgated by those who want it to be seen as other than it was.

Evangelicals are concerned about the frequently advanced and historically untenable secularists' view of the intent of our non-establishment/free exercise of religion clause: that everything that has its origin in religion must be swept out of federal, and even civil, domains. That view, if militantly enforced, constitutes what seems dangerous to most evangelicals: the strict and entire separation of God from state. This construct, so desired by some, is radically out of sync with much in American history that shows a true regard for the non-establishment of religion while giving space in nearly all contexts to wide and free expressions of faith.
-- John McCandlish Phillips is an author and former reporter for the New York Times.

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