by MICHAEL SEAN WINTERS,
National Catholic Reporter
Politics and policy do not happen in a vacuum. There are always extant narratives that emerge in different socio-political circles that frame the way the nation looks at a given issue and will profoundly impact how any and all statements are viewed and understood. And, so it is with the decision of the U.S. bishops to focus on the defense of religious liberty this year. It is incumbent on each of us to ask some basic questions. Do the extant narratives bear scrutiny? Do they enlighten or obfuscate our appreciation of a given issue? And how can we discern what is of value and import in the kind of narrative with which we find ourselves in disagreement?....
But, there has been a broader narrative on the right and it was very disappointing to see it intrude into the bishops’ document released yesterday. I touched on this in my post yesterday. The conservative concern about religious voices being barred from the public square, the “naked public square” is demonstrably nuts. The public square is drowning in religious arguments, assessments of the religious motivations of politicians, discussion of the political motivations of religious leaders, polling about the attitudes of religious voters, other polls about the attitudes of all voters towards religion. It seems to me that you can scarcely spit and not hit someone making a religious claim in the public square. A note to those who drafted the USCCB’s document: Just because Richard John Neuhaus said it, does not make it so. Greg Metzger makes the point in his, balanced, take on the new document, concluding: “Yes, Richard John Neuhaus would love this document and therein lies my appreciation and my concern about this document.” [MORE]