Religious freedom, prairie jewel, celibates’ sex advice

For the Defense

Thank you for criticizing the U.S. Catholic bishops’ misguided religious-freedom campaign (“Partisan Dangers,” May 4). In Geneva I teach a course that includes a module on Calvinism to an international group of university students. We discuss the theocracy Calvin established as well as contemporary expressions of theocracy in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. In response to the Republican primary debates, a few students asked me if the United States was mildly theocratic. I explained that the founders designed the U.S. government to be secular, but that there are a number of politically oriented Christian groups in the country that seek to enshrine their theology into policy and law.

I attended a 2009 talk given by Archbishop Charles Chaput in Detroit. The symposium was intended to focus on St. Paul and the spread of Christianity, but Chaput took the opportunity to strongly criticize President Barack Obama. I discreetly walked out. Chaput took issue with Obama’s statement, made in Turkey, that the United States is not “a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.” That is precisely the message I give my students, with the hope that more voices like Commonweal’s will continue to defend those...

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