20 / CHRONICLESnOPINIONSnThe Chapel and the Voting Boothn”J do not yet see the absolute necessity of extirpatingnthe Christian religion from among us.”n—Jonathan SwiftnReligion in American Public Life bynA. James Reichley, Washington, DC:nThe Brookings Institution.nIam sure it is possible to praise toonhighly James Reichley’s Religion innAmerican Public Life, but it wouldntake some doing. Reichley, a SeniornFellow at The Brookings Institution,nhas produced a superb historical andnanalytical survey of religion’s role innAmerican public life. His book shouldnbe added to the list of required readingsnin the continuing, and growing,ndebates about religion in the politics ofna democratic society. And if thatnsounds like a blurb for the publisher’snpromotion efforts, so be it.nAmong the merits of Reichley’snwork is that it is an effective answer tonthose who ask, whether in complaintnor in approval, “How come religion isngetting so mixed up in politics nowadays?”nThe answer is that “nowadays”ngoes back about 300 years in the venturenthat is America. Reichley is especiallynstrong in his treatment of thenintentions of the founders and whatnshould be made of the “no establishment”nand “free exercise” clauses ofnthe First Amendment to the Constitution.nDemonstrating a broad and surengrasp of the pertinent literature,nReichley shows that the courts’ treatmentnof religion, particularly in thisncentury, is a dramatic departure fromnwhat the founders had in mind.nOne senses that he is not entirelyncomfortable with all the argumentsnRichard John Neuhaus is author ofnThe Naked Public Squaren(Eerdmans) and director of ThenRockford Institute’s Center onnReligion & Society in New York.nmade by the “strict constructionist”nand “noninterpretivist” schools of jurisprudence,nbut he does follow thensolid intuition that court rulingsnshould at least be in respectful conversationnwith what the Constitution actuallynsays. What the Constitution actuallynsays, as also illuminated by thendebates surrounding the adoption ofnthe First Amendment, cannot bensquared with an understanding of then”no establishment” clause that confinesnreligion to a purely privatensphere, safely segregated from the politicalnarena. He does not put it quitenso sharply, but the point is clear: thenfounding intention was that “no establishment”nshould be in the servicenof “free exercise” both private andnpublic.nBut the list of merits goes on. Hennnby Richard John NeuhausnI”n^noffers a necessary corrective of somenfundamentalists today who are engagednin a historical revisionism thatnwould turn the founders into a band ofnborn-again Bible-believing evangelicalnChristians. But he offers an even morennecessary corrective of academicallynconventional wisdoms which portraynthe founders as thoroughly secular andn”enlightened” men who viewed religionnas a residual superstition of temporarynusefulness in courting the sentimentsnof a benighted populace.nWashington, Madison, Adams, andneven Jefferson (maybe especially Jefferson),nhe believes, should be takennseriously in what they say about thenconnection between religion and republicannvirtue. The burden of proof,nsays Reichley, rests upon those whondismiss the founders’ religious affirma-n!> ….v.n^nintn