As usual, Dan McCarty’s analyses of Reich’s Church realities absolutely command attention. No less than his recent Bush Or Benedict we are treated here to an assessment of two writers commenting on the phenomenon from two distinctly different perspectives.
At one point, Dan comments:
“But Linker may be overestimating Neuhaus’ success at shaping policy by shaping the world of ideas. The President’s Council on Bioethics has had so little influence on the stem-cell debate, for example, that theocon arguments failed even to keep the Senate majority leader from the president’s own party (Bill Frist, a bona fide religious rightist himself) from approving federal funding of stem-cell research. And Bush’s use of vaguely Catholic rhetoric did not stop him from approving the “morning after” contraceptive pill (and potential abortifacient) Plan B for over-the-counter sale in the face of theocon objections. On the electoral level: Rick Santorum, the theocons’ poster child on Capitol Hill, is the Senate’s most endangered incumbent this year.”
I rather think that Dan’s analysis fails to go far enough here though. Truth be known there is strong reason to believe that Neuhaus has cared little about the outcome of the embryonic stem-cell debate. The infamous Bush compromises in 2001 which itself authorized the federal funding of stem cell research on certain lines of stem cells was offered absolutely nothing in the way of resistance by Neuhaus and this at a time that the USCCB and the Vatican were griping loudly. While it is certain that a Catholic voice cannot be discerned in the outcome of many of Bush’s decisions, more importantly, one doubts that one was ever brought to bear. Neuhaus, very simply, sold-out on the embryonic stem-cell questions as did his pals, Dobson, Fallwell and Colson. And he disgraced the Church in his so doing.
As a non-American, I miss some of the historical angles.
In the article Dan draws attention to the Hynes’ (?) claim that the modern evangelical revival parallels in some ways the revival of the Lincoln era. Dan then goes on to mention another comparable revival in the WCTU days. This is all pretty interesting but are we talking about the same kind of protestantisms? I recall Murray Rothbard writing (see the PDF file here) about “post-millenialists” and “pre-mills”. The former he associated with the Prohibtion era and in many ways with the whole Progressive movement project. The later seem more relevant to the whole modern Moral Majority / Christian Right thing. Rothbard doesn’t say it but presumably the religious edges of the 1960s civil rights movement would probably count as another post-mil revival.
I’m not sure whether the Great Awakening people or the Lincoln era people could have been classified as pre-mils or post-mils or whether the whole categorization is weak.
If Rothbard’s pre-mil / post-mil split is at all relevant, then we are talking about some different kinds of fish here. Or am I splitting hairs?