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February 5, 2020

Barr Defends Religious Liberty Against Militant Secularists

“Militant secularists are trying to impose their values on religious people.”

No man in America today is more hated by progressive secularists than President Donald J. Trump, but, arguably, no man is more feared by them than Trump’s attorney general, William Barr. Why? Because, after decades of attacks on religious freedom, progressives have an intelligent, articulate, determined foe in Barr.

Last October, Barr infuriated the secular Left when he called them out, asking, “Among the militant secularists are many so-called progressives. But where is the progress?”

Lack of progress is bad, but regression is worse. As Barr pointed out, “The secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on all the trappings of religion, including inquisitions and excommunication. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake — social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social-media campaigns.”

But this is no accident, says Barr. Speaking to Cardinal Timothy Dolan last week, Barr argued, “Today, religion is being driven out of the marketplace of ideas and there’s an organized militant secular effort to drive religion out of our lives. … To me the problem today is not that religious people are trying to impose their views on nonreligious people; it’s the opposite. It’s that militant secularists are trying to impose their values on religious people and they’re not accommodating the freedom of religion of people of faith.”

That is undeniably true.

In a New York Times hit-piece on Barr, Katherine Stewart is furious that Barr is using the power of the Justice Department to restore equality under the law for churches and religious institutions. She complains about DOJ lawsuits over denial of federal funding for religious schools, even when providing the same services as secular schools receiving taxpayer funds — an unconstitutional discrimination against religion.

Like so many progressives, Stewart’s words drip with contempt and derision for people of faith. She uses scare quotes when referring to “religious liberty” and “religious freedom,” claiming those phrases are “rhetoric of today’s Christian nationalist movement.” Stewart references the First Amendment’s clause forbidding Congress from establishing a national religion, yet she completely omits the critical end of that clause, which states “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

It has been popular in recent years for secular progressives to rewrite the religious history of the United States, claiming essentially that the Founders tolerated religion so long as it did not exercise any power or influence in the realm of government. Some even falsely paint the Founders as men who were mostly agnostic or even atheistic.

Such claims could not be further from the truth. Most of the Founders were men of deep Christian faith. Even the two men commonly noted as the least religious of the Founders, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were highly laudatory of Christianity.

In June 1777, with the Constitutional Convention crumbling before his eyes, it was Franklin who gave a speech calling for daily prayers in the convention, for “God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without His notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?” The following year, Franklin wrote to the French ministry, declaring, “Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principals of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.”

As for Jefferson, while rejecting what he saw as perversions of Christ’s doctrine by religious leaders, he created a book comprised solely of the words of Jesus from the Bible, declaring it the most “beautiful or precious morsel of ethics” he’d ever seen, and “a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.” Doctrinal debates aside, again, that is highly laudatory.

Attorney General Barr, in his speech, referenced a quote from another Founding Father, John Adams, who said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

It is no accident that freedom of religion was the very first of all liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights. In coming to the defense of religious liberty against the attacks of the anti-religious, progressive secularists, AG Barr has joined the pantheon of America’s most noble leaders in securing the blessings of Liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

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