A past commentary of mine was featured in a recent book, Democracy: Opposing Viewpoints, published earlier this year by Greenhaven Press, an imprint of Thomson Gale.

My contribution appears as part of Chapter 2: What Should Be the Relationship Between Religion and Democracy? Following a pair of items by Clark Moeller and Bill O’Reilly arguing that democracy is based on secular and religious foundations respectively, I take the affirmative side of my issue in a section titled, “Politicians Should Voice Their Religious Convictions.” The text is based on an earlier Acton Commentary, “Private Faith and Public Politics.”

I argue that “moral considerations of some sort come into play in every policy decision,” and politicians should be up front about their religious views which validate and underlie their moral reasoning.

Taking the negative side, “Politicians Should Not Voice Their Religious Convictions,” Cathy Young, a columnist for the Boston Globe, writes in part, “The idea that politicians should keep their religious faith private may seem outrageously intolerant. But is it not equally outrageous that, on today’s political scene, a secularist figure cannot express his views honestly without committing career suicide?” Her contribution is from an article in Reason magazine.

The democracy and religion chapter concludes with items arguing whether Islam and democracy are compatible, by Fawaz A. Gerges and Amir Taheri respectively. In the periodical bibliography for further reading on this chapter, the book also highlights a piece by George Cardinal Pell, “Is There Only Secular Democracy?” The text of the commentary is extracted from Pell’s 2004 Acton Annual Dinner address, and a longer form with footnotes is published in the Journal of Markets & Morality.

The Opposing Viewpoints series has “more than 90 volumes covering nearly every controversial contemporary topic,” and “is the leading source for libraries and classrooms in need of current-issue materials.”


  • David Michael Phelps

    Kudos. Can we look forward to “The Ballor Factor” airing soon on FoxNews? But seriously, has Young seriously considered why a secularist would be committing “career suicide” by fully expressing his views?

  • http://blog.acton.org Jordan

    I’m guessing she’s working off the assumption that most people are religious and therefore would not vote for a secularist. She, as part of the educated elite, knows better, of course.

    So instead of politicians being free to speak about their religious convictions (or not to do so), she wants to impose a “moratorium” and prohibit candidates from speaking about religion. That’s just one big non sequitur to me. She really wants to limit speech, it seems.

    On a somewhat related note, Walter Williams has [url=http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/walterwilliams/2006/03/01/188010.html]a great column here[/url] on what democracy really is about, which has implications for judgments about the Bush/Sharansky foreign policy.