"The Secular Society Gets Religion," Felicia Lee reported in the top story in the Arts & Ideas section of Saturday's Times. "Experts Differ About the Re-Emergence of Faith in Politics." In the large, cartoonish illustration for the piece, religion is represented by a gaggle of Crusaders, anachronistically led by a priest who appears primed to perform an exorcism. The secular society is represented by people who are trying to find cures for cancer and Parkinson's Disease and exploring the distant reaches of the universe.
With this setup, you might expect a snide article to follow. Not a bit of it. Ms. Lee reports that, while "intellectual giants like John Dewey and Sigmund Freud dismissed religion as infantile and predicted an increasingly secular society, … lately a growing number of social scientists, philosophers, historians, and other scholars are trying to account for the energetic re-entry of religion into the public sphere."
She talked to many of the right people—Michael Novak, Richard John Neuhaus, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Michael Cromartie, and Wilfred McClay, among others, all of whom will be familiar to readers of Books & Culture. And she directs readers of the Times to what promises to be an interesting book, Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Public Policy in America, a Woodrow Wilson Center publication coming this fall from the Johns Hopkins University Press, edited by McClay and Hugh Heclo, a professor of public affairs at George Mason University, who is also quoted in the article. (Wendy Kaminer, the winsome skeptic who was interviewed for Books & Culture by Cromartie, and Paul Kurtz, the tireless champion of secular humanism, are called upon to huff and puff, but their dissent is rather tepid: "Hark, ...1