“cultural revolution” three decadesrnago—was pragmatic, never moral or aesthetic.rnWhereas Mao was sometimesrnabstruse, and often aspired to being profound,rnDeng’s quotations were unsuitablernfor a book, little red or otherwisern(e.g., on Marxist ideologues: “They sitrnon the lavatory and can’t even managernto sh-t”). His dislike of “shouting andrnyelling” was fully applied in 1989 to China’srnequivalent of Kent State, TiananmenrnSquare. Deng understood politicsrnin its undiluted form, had no scruples, norn”vision thing” bevond being in charge,rnand no morality. In short, he was someonernthe United States government couldrndo business with.rnSo much more the pity, then, thatrnMadeleine Albright’s visit to Pekingrncame too late for this wanna-be Metternichrnto meet Deng. She would havernfound him a kindred spirit. She, too, believesrnthat ends justify means, and thatrnhuman life has no intrinsic value, vis. herrnreply to a question on 60 Minutes (Mayrn12, 1996) about the death of a half-millionrnIraqi children as a result of Americanrnsanctions: “I think this is a very hardrnchoice, but the price, we think, is worthrnit.” She, too, understands that “ideology”rn—which in her scheme of things includesrnreligion, of which she has hadrnthree so far—must be subservient to thernquest for power, and its exercise.rnA meeting with 91-year-old Dengrnwould have been useful to the new Secretaryrnof State’s career: he could haverndampened her youthful zeal for hyperactivityrnand confrontation. He would havernbrushed off her platitudes on “humanrnrights” with a knowing smile. But alas!rnThis was not to be.rnAt the very least, Mrs. Albright shouldrnfollow the grand man’s footsteps inrnhis recipe for longevity, and take uprnsmoking two packs of high-tar, filter-freerncigarettes every day. This would makernher instantly popular in the Carolinas,rnand maybe—just maybe—inject arnhealthy dose of memento mori into herrnbesoin de faire quelque chose. In that wayrnDeng may yet perform a favor to thernAmerican people, and possibly ease therndiscomfort of his present abode.rn—Srdja TrifkovicrnBOERNE, TEXAS, is an unlikelyrnlocation for a contest over religious freedom,rnbut in 1996 the local CatholicrnArchbishop decided to sue the city for refusingrnto allow him to expand a churchrnsituated in a zoned historic district. ThernArchbishop based his case on the ReligiousrnFreedom Restoration Act, whichrnforbids religious persecution and alsornnullifies laws that are neutral on religionrnbut may impose a burden on religious exercise.rnA federal judge found the act itselfrnunconstitutional, but this decisionrnwas reversed upon appeal. Last October,rnthe Supreme Court agreed to hear therncase.rnAs reported in the press. City ofBoernernv. Flores sounds like a conflict betweenrnsecular and religious interests. A growingrnCatholic congregation needs to expandrnits church facility, and Caesar—in thernform of the Boerne city government—rnrefuses, elevating a local zoning ordinancernabove the freedom of religionrnguaranteed by the Constitution. ButrnBoerne, Texas, is hardly a hotbed of secularrnhumanism, and the case is a sign notrnof religious persecution but of the intellectualrnbankruptcy of the American clergyrnin general, and of Catholic bishops inrnparticular.rnThe religious freedom guaranteed byrnthe First Amendment is freedom fromrnthe federal government. The current interpretationrnof the 14th Amendment asrna justification for federal intrusion intornstate and local affairs is a bare-faced lierninvented by activist Supreme Courtrnjudges who deserve neither our respectrnnor our obedience. But, when even thern14th Amendment could not guaranteernthe rights of Peyote-using medicinernmen, Santerians, and Satanists, Congressrncaved in to pressure from the religionrnlobby and passed the Religious FreedomrnRestoration Act, which begins with thernobservation that “The Framers of thernConstitution, recognizing free exercise ofrnreligion as an unalienable right, securedrnits protection in the First Amendment tornthe Constitution.”rnThe Solons, like Professor Harry Jaffa,rnare not smart enough to know the differencernbetween the Constitution and thernDeclaration of Independence. Whenrn18th-century Americans said religion,rnthey meant the Christian religion, andrnmost of them probably did not includernCatholics. Jefferson was almost uniquernin regarding religion as something abstractlyrnworthy of protection, but thernDeist Jefferson was not among thernFramers of the Constitution.rnSince 1993, when the RFRA wasrnpassed, dozens upon dozens of suits havernbeen brought. In just the past two years,rnthe courts have been burdened by Muslimrnconvicts demanding time off tornadore Mahound without the presence ofrnother Muslims who belong to differentrnsects, by Santerian convicts wanting tornwear their voodoo beads in prison, byrnSikh schoolchildren demanding thernright to take their “ceremonial” knivesrninto the classroom, by “Wiccan” practitionersrn(a/k/a witches) objecting tornsurveillance of their “church,” by pro-liferngroups insisting that they have a constitutionalrnright to block the entrances tornabortion clinics, and on and on.rnTypically, the more exotic cults standrna better chance of success than fundamentalistrnand pro-life groups, but thernpoint at issue—so it is always said by thernreligion lobby—is not the attractivenessrnof the group itself: Moonies, snake-worshipers,rnand cat-eviscerators have exactlyrnthe same religious freedom as Catholics,rnProtestants, and Jews. In that case, itrnwould be better if there were no religiousrnfreedom, particularly when it means thatrnthe freedom to cast spells or bite thernheads off chickens takes precedence overrnall the customs and laws of American society.rnTfie test case should be Islam, a religionrnthat has, wherever it is established,rnsystematically persecuted Christians andrnJews. Even in the past 20 or 30 years,rnMuslims have tried to eradicate Christianityrnfrom Africa and the Middle East,rnand yet Muslims who openly use the languagernof Jihad want to avail themselvesrnof legal protections that were neverrnmeant to apply to Islam or Buddhism orrnObe.rnThe Boerne case has nothing to dornwith the freedom of religion protected inrnthe First Amendment. It is actually arnconflict which pits the real and palpablernright of cities and states to manage theirrnown affairs against an imaginary right ofrnreligion in the abstract. If governmentrncan, in the name of religious freedom,rnsuspend self-government in Boerne,rnwhat is to prevent that same governmentrnfrom guaranteeing the right of women tornbecome Catholic priests or Orthodoxrnrabbis?rn—Thomas FlemingrnB I L L C L I N T O N , in David Brinkley’srnestimation, is a bore, and the majority ofrnthe American electorate probably agrees.rnMoralists deplore a nation that seemsrnwilling to indulge an administration riddenrnby scandal and characterized by everyrnsort of personal vice and immorality.rnMAY 1997/7rnrnrn