came to set a man against his father,rnand a daughter against herrnmother, and a daughter-in-lawrnagainst her mother-in-law.rnBlessed are you when men haternyou.rnIf anyone comes to Me, andrndoes not hate his own father andrnmother and wife and childrenrnand brothers and sisters, yes, evenrnhis own life, he cannot be Myrndisciple.rnNow the words of Jesus are strong andrndifficult—and they may even be false—rnbut they cannot be seen in communionrnwith Locke’s. Indeed, they explicitlyrncontradict Locke’s notions, and attemptsrnsuch as Carter’s to reconcile them almostrnalways affirm the religion of Lockernand not of Jesus.rnThis is manifest in at least three ways.rnFirst, religion for Carter is not a statementrnof transcendent truth that makes arnclaim of obligation on all men. Rather,rn”religions” represent individual preferences,rnwhich must be protected underrnthe guise of the rights of autonomousrnprivate conscience. Carter sometimesrn.seems to be aware of the insufficiency ofrnthis idea, but he ultimately cannot escapernit himself. For instance, he complainsrnthat “for Americans to take theirrnreligions [sic] seriously, to treat them asrnordained rather than chosen, is to risk assignmentrnto the lunatic fringe.” But justrnone page earlier he endorses the idea ofrnchoice, which is supposed to be a sign ofrnsanity; “American ideology cherishes religion,rnas it does all matters of privaternconscience, which is why we justly celebraterna strong tradition against state interferencernwith private religious choice.”rnAnd again, later in the book: “My ownrnview is that [religious] exclusivity . . . betraysrna lack of faith in God’s charity, butrneveryone is entitled to choose a religiousrnbelief.”rnCarter never mentions, nor evenrnseems aware of, Michael Sandel’srnoutstanding essay “Freedom of Consciencernor Freedom of Choice?” firstrnpublished in 1990 and reprinted in Eastland’srnReligious Liberty in the SupremernCourt. Sandel argues that modernrnSupreme Court jurisprudence does notrnserve religious liberty, but rather individualismrnand religious pluralism. Becausernthe Court assumes that religion isrnsomething one chooses from a positionrnof radical autonomy, it cannot take intornaccount the needs of those persons whornfeel that they are constrained by religiousrncommitments that they did notrnchoose. The Court assumes an “imagernof the self as free and independent, unencumberedrnby aims and attachments itrndoes not choose for itself.” Any suchrnencumbrance is a violation of humanrnfreedom, and so any religion that assumesrnto oblige belief on all men is, inrnthe opinion of Justice John Paul Stevensrnin Wallace v. jaffree, unworthy of respectrnby the Court.rnSandel believes that such an opinionrnreveals not respect for religion “but respectrnfor the self whose religion it is.”rnThe man who feels constrained by obligationsrnand commitments he has notrnchosen is therefore not due equal respectrnby the Court since his religiousrnopinions are illiberal; they strike at thernvery foundation of the American ideal ofrnprivate, voluntary conscience. But, saysrnSandel, this “liberal conception of thernperson ill equips the Court to secure religiousrnliberty for those who regard themselvesrnas claimed by religious commitmentsrnthey have not chosen.” ThernCourt is endorsing religious pluralism,rnnot protecting religious freedom; thosernwho are not convinced that governmentrnought to make such an endorsement arernexcluded from consideration.rnThus the second manifestation ofrnStephen Carter’s Lockean religion is hisrnimplicit assertion that God is stronglyrnand exclusively on the political side ofrnthose who believe that She is a LiberalrnDemocrat. Or, to put it another way,rnGod is the Ultimate Pluralist, reigning inrnjudgment over nonpluralists. So, for instance,rnwhen Christians use their symbolsrn”as divisively as they did in Houston”rnat the 1992 Republican NationalrnConvention (Carter gives no examples ofrnthis), “presuming to cast their opponentsrninto the outer darkness, I tremble withrnanger—and, since that decision is notrnreally within the scope of their ecclesiasticalrnauthority, I tremble for their souls.”rnOn the other hand (and on the very nextrnpage), he remarks that Martin LutherrnKing, Jr., “and other religious leadersrnshowed no reluctance to claim for theirrnpositions an ‘exclusive alignment withrnthe Almighty.'” “Nor is there any reasonrnthat they should have been reluctant,”rnsays Carter, “provided that they hadrncome in a prayerful way to a sincere beliefrnthat they had discovered the will ofrnGod.”rnReligions, for Carter, should not bernprotected because one of them mightrnbe true, but rather because in their veryrnmultiplicity they contribute to the liberalrnconcept of pluralism as an unqualifiedrngood. Religions are at the service of thernpluralist state, insuring that the divinernprinciple of tolerance be upheld by lawsrnand those who make them. Carter complainsrnthat he wants the state to respect,rnnot merely to tolerate, his religion, butrnonly because his religion endorses thernstate religion of tolerance. It should bernrespected not because it might be true,rnbut because it gives theological sanctionrnto the religion of pluralism at the heartrnof the American ethos.rnNow, Carter is careful to point outrnthat his moral judgment of the bad Republicansrnis based upon their politicalrnpositions, rather than their religiousrnopinions (which they ought to be free tornchoose). But he fails to see that the politicalrnopinions of some religious believersrncannot be so easily separated fromrntheir religious convictions. Or, perhapsrnmore accurately, he cannot see thatrnsome religious convictions do not sornneatly and miraculously coincide withrnliberal democratic political opinions.rnCarter wants his religion to be respected,rnbut, mirahile dictu, he cannot think ofrnany issue on which it does not endorsernliberal democratic politics—from abortionrnand homosexual “rights” to women’srnordination and prayer in school.rnAs Carter explains, “the NationalrnCouncil of Churches was surely rightrnthat God’s name should not be used ‘tornbreed intolerance and to divide,'” as it allegedlyrnwas at the Republican Convention.rn”But it was wrong to suggest thatrnany partisan use of God’s name tends torndo so.” The N.C.C. erred in its implicitrndenial “that one party might in factrnstand for values that are closer than thernother’s to the will of God.” And, ofrncourse, the party that comes closest isrnthe one that elevates pluralism to thernlevel of dogma. Carter tries to arguernthat only the conclusions of the “religiousrnright” ought to be morally condemned,rnnot the fact that they are infusedrnwith what he indelicately callsrn”God-talk.” But of course this makesrnno sense. If a man’s religion necessarilyrninduces him to make immoral judgmentsrn(as all religious conservatives do inrnCarter’s world), the religion that informsrnthem ought to be condemned as well.rnAnd the opinions and religions thatrndeserve the harshest condemnation arernthose that do not endorse liberal democ-rn34/CHRONICLESrnrnrn