This column originally appeared on Townhall.com on November 19, 2009.
One of the reasons liberals are so hostile to public expressions of Christianity is because it threatens the monopoly that the religion of liberalism enjoys in the public square. The late Ted Kennedy was more than a leading senator, to liberal supporters. He was a secular saint. His appeal was essentially religious. He made it fairly explicit in his famous concession speech to the Democratic National Convention that re-nominated President Jimmy Carter. Kennedy reduced thousands of liberal delegates to tears with this emotional peroration:
May it be said of our Party in 1980 that we found our faith again.
And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:
“I am a part of all that I have met
[Tho] much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are —
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end.
For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
Not for Ted Kennedy the cool rationalism of his party’s founder, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson had famously said “if I had to go to Heaven in a political party, I would not go at all.” For Ted Kennedy and for those weeping delegates, the Democratic Party holds that place that used to be reserved for church and church alone. It’s no wonder that those teary believers–more than 90 percent of whom tell researchers they never go to church–end their search for the meaning of life in political activism.
Analyze Kennedy’s Epistle to the Gentiles and you will see that the concern, the work, the cause, the hope, the dream that is the subject of his panegyric is government. Government giveth and Government taketh away. The only Government worthy of that capital G is one that provides health, education, and welfare. All Americans are invited into the Democratic Church. Only the heretical conservatives are excluded.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi was at the Kennedy School at Harvard last week. Liberals go to Harvard the way Muslims go to Mecca. Pelosi was basking in liberal approval for having been the first Speaker to deliver on the promise of universal health care. She established her bona fides early in her sermon. “For thirty years I’ve been an advocate of single payer,” she said. Single payer is liberal speak for socialized medicine, run entirely by the state, paid for by the state. But we have to make some tactical compromises, she said. Well, there may have to be a few little detours on the road to the Heavenly Liberal City.
“We all have our theology in politics,” she said to murmurs of approval from her audience. When Gov. George W. Bush said in a Republican debate in 2000 that Jesus Christ was his favorite political philosopher, liberals were aghast. But when Nancy Pelosi speaks of “theology,” we must assume she uses the word the way Webster defines it: “the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially : the study of God and of God’s relation to the world.”
For Pelosi, God commands universal health care without a restriction on funding abortion. And God apparently also commands the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Pelosi invoked the patron saint of San Francisco. She recited the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. It was probably the first time in history that that gentle saint was dragged in to bless the slaughter of innocents and the abolition of matrimony.
Predictably, there were no ACLU protests. And no atheizers ran to MSNBC to deplore her breaching the Wall of Separation between Church and State.
Pelosi was perfectly free not only to preach her religious ideas, but to impose jail time and fines on those who dissent. In the Gospel According to Nancy, the liberal Preacher of the House promises to bring the liberal Heaven to Earth. Is it any wonder growing numbers of Americans think it’s a living hell?