Stephen Carter is dismayed that liberal culture doesn’t take religion seriously. His complaint has hit a nerve. Peter Steinfels, the religion editor of the New York Times, praised Carter’s “well-honed arguments” in his Saturday column. Bill Clinton read the book while on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard and raved about it afterward to a group of religious leaders in Washington. And Carter was granted a softball celebrity interview with MacNeil-Lehrer’s Charlayne Hunter-Gault. (Trivialization alert: the interview was taped inside New York’s Riverside Church.)
Why all the fuss? A likely explanation is that some members of the liberal establishment— including Stephen Carter himself and probably also our Southern Baptist president—are bothered in equal part by the political power of the religious right and by the cynicism of liberals who would use the antics of demagogues in preachers’ robes to dismiss all religion as a delusion or worse. Carter thinks he can salvage a legitimate role for religion in public life while still contesting the politics of the religious conservatives....
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