A Moderate Proposal

In America today, nearly every month brings a new occasion to renew the Culture War over religion in the public square.  By next year, our sensitive multicultural elites might insist on celebrating “Hearts and Flowers Day” on February 14 and “Drink Beer and Wear Green Day” on March 17.

Americans have not always been such zealous secularists, Kevin Seamus Hasson, founder and chairman of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argues in The Right To Be Wrong.  He ably recounts the surprising religious intolerance of some of our earliest settlers, the Puritans, and with lively descriptions paints an unflattering portrait of their attempts to establish a theocracy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  (Even their efforts were nothing new in New England: Shortly after the First Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims banned the few Anglicans in their midst from publicly celebrating Christmas.)  Religious persecutions did not end with the first generations of Pilgrims and the Puritans; for a hundred years, Quakers were persecuted for their practice of “conscientious objection.”

Hasson identifies two extremes in American history, which are still very much alive today, in the form of “Puritans” and “Park Rangers.”  Today’s Puritans are those who, like their namesakes, continue to try to restrict freedom of religion to themselves, the sole possessors...

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