Although I’m a social conservative, I find Sam Brownback tiresome. But the notion, popular in Andrew Sullivan land and other alternate dimensions, that Brownback’s politics are aimed at creating sectarian warfare — because Christianists have the biggest sect, after all — is almost so ridiculous as to disqualify its proponents as serious commentators. Brownback has never to my knowledge used intolerant language toward people of other faiths, including Muslims, even if some of his supporters and detractors want to refight the Reformation.
Brownback’s Christianity may motivate him to care about Darfur and prison reform, or to dissent from other conservatives on the death penalty. But there is nothing on his agenda that could not be supported on purely secular grounds. There is a difference between following the dictates of one’s faith in the public square as it relates to objects of proper public concern and trying to convert others by the sword.
If anything, Sam Brownback’s attempts to make the government behave according to values like charity take him dangerously close to liberalism. It is one thing to argue that politicians should be sensitive to people of other faiths when using religious language. But to argue that the use of such language, even when quoting other people, is the equivalent of launching a crusade is absurd.
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