God talk

Two weeks ago in this space we welcomed Senator Joseph Lieberman’s candidacy for vice president, noting that it broke down at least two barriers in American public life. As the first Jew nominated for a national ticket by a major party, Lieberman’s candidacy, like Al Smith’s and John F. Kennedy’s, potentially opens the highest offices in the land to a member of a previously excluded group. Almost as important, however, is the fact that Lieberman is a religiously observant person known for speaking frankly and eloquently about the ways in which his faith informs his political life. On both counts, Lieberman promises to expand and reinvigorate the nation’s political conversation. From concerns about the moral tenor of popular entertainment to basic questions of social justice, religion can shape the public debate for the better and help keep that debate civil. And as a member of a minority religion, Lieberman can speak about faith in a way that doesn’t raise the specter of coercion.

Not everyone has been equally enthusiastic about Lieberman’s frequently voiced conviction that public life has more to gain than to lose from attending to the religious concerns of citizens. Shortly after our last issue went to press, Lieberman was assailed first by the Anti-Defamation League and then by the editorial pages of the Washington Post and New York Times along with other self-appointed guardians of the "wall" of separation...

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