The United States is unique in its public commitment to thenDeity. Ever since our country was founded on a claim of naturalnrights endowed by our Creator, our greatest leaders havenmade reference to Divine Providence a central element of ournpublic discourse. Even our most skeptical public officials havendeemed it appropriate to acknowledge, as Justice WiUiam O.nDouglas once wrote, that Americans are a religious peoplenwhose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.nD. ‘espite the prominence of the Divinity in our officialnrhetoric—and His enduring influence over the conduct ofnmany American citizens—the Creator of our lives and libertiesnnow enjoys a less prominent position among those whonshape our culture. Our professors and pundits are likely tonscoff if accused of accepting the Nietzschean dictum “God isndead,” but their guidance would effectively divorce His influencenfrom our public lives. Rather than acknowledge the primacynwhich we accord the Creator in our constitutionalndocuments, these sages have magnified the “wall of separationnbetween Church and State” from a microscopic comment innone of Thomas Jefferson’s letters into a juridical doctrinenintended to relegate religion strictly to our private lives. Onenmight think that the self-appointed apologists for our diminishingnsecular morality believe themselves capable of inflatingntheir own importance by attempting public diminution of thenrole of Divine Providence.nThe elevation of “separation of Church and State” to preeminencenin our constitutional catechism has had paradoxicalnconsequences for public discourse. In earlier generations, theninvocation of scriptural references in political rhetoric wouldnprompt a rhetorical flourish of a competing religious reference.nToday, invocation of biblical support for a positionnroutinely earns a “sectarian” label for the argument. Such argumentsnare admitted to have “potential appeal” for “some segments”nof the American people, but before the position canngain serious treatment in forums of public discussion, theynmust be recast in “purely secular” terms. The Bible can nevernbe cited for its enduring message, but must be interpolated accordingnto today’s allegedly “caring and sensitive” needs.nThis trend continues unabated as what even our most Skepticalncommentators must concur are moral questions gainnincreasing prominence in our politics. We thus conduct antruncated public debate: the Supreme Court affirms that abortionnis a religious question, then denies the relevance of religiousnresponses to its decisions. Debate over capital punishmentnaddresses questions from rehabilitation to retribution,nbut religious conceptions of justice (that might guide evenndeliberations about rehabflitation along different paths thannthose traversed by modern psychology) are treated as so sectariannthat arguments about just retribution rarely gain a publicnhearing. We revert to an old discussion about the possibflitiesnof “selective” conscientious objection, while wenChronicles of Cultaren• THE RETURN OF GOD •nCOMMENTnnnsever our public rulings from the Creator of all conscience, tonthe extent that even Bishops of the Roman Catholic Churchnappear unwilling to assert (perhaps even they have becomenunfamiliar with) teachings about justice and war that havenguided civilization for over 1500 years. Ignoring these intellectualnroots, the American people confront modern questionsnof war and peace as if the fear of violent death had nevernhad any influence on human thought before the detonation ofnthe atom, and as if religion had nothing to say that might expandnthe horizons of those who believe that the only importantnquestions center on preserving life in this world. And,nrather than attempting to counter this mind-set, today’s morenprominent clergy seem to have their voices, as well, suitablynatmned to the gospel of contemporary secularism. Trendynclergymen spouting militant liberalism can gain the endorsementnof the secular choir almost because they defy the religiousnheritage that provides their initial claim to moral stature.nThose who laud such defiance as an indication of “courage”nlack the insight to see that such secular praise really meritsnreligious censure because it abandons God for the idolatry ofnthis world. Similarly, the cacophony of the antinuclear factionnamong our contemporary clergy is heralded by establishmentncommentators so uncertain of moral norms that they can hailnthese charlatans as prophets. These sages are so isolated fromnreal Scripture that it never occurs to them to ask whethernthose who would limit American defenses in the fece of growingnSoviet armaments are acting as evil shepherds leadingntheir flocks astray.n