As secularists try to suppress any mention of faith and purists attempt to impose their beliefs on all, the current culture war over religion in America rages on. It is rooted in both sides' misunderstanding of who we are as Americans and even as human beings. Politicians have long paid lip service to religious liberty while either imposing state sponsored religions, excusing anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic bigotry, or crushing the natural free expression of closely-held beliefs by the American people.
In his new book The Right to be Wrong: Ending the Culture War over Religion in America (Encounter Books), Kevin "Seamus" Hasson skewers the excesses of both sides in this debate while offering a solution that rises above the trench warfare.
In The Right to Be Wrong, Hasson draws on more than 20 years of experience protecting the free expression of all religious traditions as founder and chairman of The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The book confronts the madness in court decisions that at various times have made it "legal for states to provide religious schools with film strips but not the film projectors to show them, and it could lend them books but not maps."
In The Right to Be Wrong, Hasson examines both extremes:
- The "Pilgrims" and the "Park Rangers" - Pilgrims believe that their truths require them to restrict others' religious freedom. Park Rangers believe that their freedoms require them to make sure others' religious truths remain private. Together, these groups are responsible for the impasse over the role of religion in our public life. But it goes deeper.
- James Madison - His insights were a blessing, his compromises a curse. Many of today's problems, such as continual battles over "under God" in the Pledge, the Supreme Court confirmations and our yearly battles over holiday displays - as well as solutions - can be traced to James Madison, both his compromises and his insights.
- Thomas Jefferson in public and private - How the man that "Pilgrims" and "Park Rangers" both claim as their patron saint was neither side's patron and was certainly no saint. From slavery to religion, Thomas Jefferson was either a hypocrite or just plain confused.
Taking on both the "Pilgrims" and the "Park Rangers," the book explains it is a basic human right to seek, profess, and publicly celebrate the truth as we know it. Religious liberty follows from who we are. Freedom for all of us is found in the truth about each of us. It is a solution to the culture war and it shows how to interpret the First Amendment with the understanding that we all have The Right to Be Wrong.
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