This communication to the most powerful government in the world inspired me to make public one of mine to the most powerful news reporting agency on the planet:
May 18, 2005
To the editor of the New York Times:
Mark Lilla’s brief for liberal biblical religion in “Church Meets State” is odd for a couple reasons. First, he does not recognize that “liberals” such as Henry Ward Beecher and Woodrow Wilson fit precisely his category of Protestant who spiritualized the Bible and then read liberal democracy back into scripture to justify such campaigns as the Civil War and World War I. Richard F. Gamble’s recent book, The War for Righteousness (ISI Books, 2003), well documents the liberal religious origins of sanctimonious government action. Second, Lilla fails to notice that the old liberal Protestant culture warriors who defended WASP America and today’s Protestant Right both share a utilitarian understanding of religion that evaluates faith by the good it does in this world, as opposed to the world to come. Perhaps a truly conservative Christianity of Augustinian vintage might distinguish church and state better than Lilla’s liberal version.
D. G. Hart
I’m betting none of the people to whom these missives were addressed read/reads them. What the on-line readers are supposed to make of these letters is anyone’s guess.