Those who cherish religious faith ought to be heartsick that it is so often invoked not to advance compassion and understanding but rather to justify discrimination and even bigotry. This is doing serious harm to our religious traditions, particularly among the young.
The millennials are more detached from organized religion than any earlier cohort of young Americans since polling began: Roughly one-third reject formal religious affiliation. Many scholars -- notably Robert Putnam and David Campbell, whose American Grace is the definitive book on the United States' religious landscape -- attribute this to the hyper-politicization of faith on the right.
To young adults, Campbell and Putnam wrote in a 2012 article in Foreign Affairs, "'religion' means 'Republican,' 'intolerant,' and 'homophobic.' Since those traits do not represent their views, they do not see themselves -- or wish to be seen by their peers -- as religious."
Congratulations to the Arizona Legislature for doing such an excellent job at de-evangelization.
Contrast the choice of Commonweal to run this thoughtful and helpful op-ed piece by E.J. Dionne with Dennis Coday's baffling decision at National Catholic Reporter to feature in his "Morning Briefing" column this shoddy Christian Science Monitor piece, with the lead-in (by Coday), "Was vetoed Arizona bill misrepresented?"
The Christian Science Monitor article promotes the views of a group of "11 Constitutional scholars" who, per the article, wrote Brewer to say that the religious freedom bill's critics had "egregiously misrepresented" the bill. Nine of these "Constitutional scholars" supported the bill. Two claimed to be uncertain about it.
And who are these "Constitutional scholars" who took it on themselves to inform Gov. Brewer that critics were misrepresenting the Arizona legislation? They include Mary Ann Glendon, former ambassador to the Vatican, who has attacked the Obama administration at every turn after her candidate, Romney, lost the last election, and who attacked Notre Dame University for inviting the president to deliver a commencement address.
Glendon has sullied her reputation by defending the disgraced founder of the Legion of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel, at whose university in Rome she has taught. She has acted as an advisor for the Legion. To the best of my knowledge, Glendon has never apologized for having defended Maciel, who molested generations of seminarians, fathered several children by different women and supported these children secretly with Legion funds, raped some of those children by their accounts, and was a drug addict.
Why does Dennis Coday allow people like Glendon to sum up the "Catholic" case about the Arizona "religious freedom" bill, as he points to an article that is a virtual advertisement for her views while he asks if the Arizona bill was misrepresented? Why does he feature that assessment of the Arizona legislation in his "Morning Briefing" column today, I wonder, and not E.J. Dionne's?
Call me disappointed.