The role of religion in the public square, a subject that attracted considerable attention during last year's presidential race, continues to inspire debate and reflection, in part prompted by President George W. Bush's newly formed Office for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Three recent pieces help to put this ongoing discussion in perspective.

The first is Wilfred McClay's superb essay "The God of Princes," in the March issue of Touchstone magazine. McClay focuses on Senator Joseph Lieberman, whose "remarkably frank and enthusiastic declarations of his religious sentiments in the days and weeks immediately after his selection as Al Gore's running mate were stunning departures from the norm, and immediately generated quite a storm of controversy and commentary."

It takes an effort to recall that moment, obscured by the events of Election Day and their interminable aftermath. Especially it is hard to recover the sense of promise that many religious believers felt when this "avowedly observant" Jew received the nomination. "Lieberman's candidacy," McClay writes, "could have raised some profoundly important questions for us. For example, What can the perspectives of orthodox Judaism, and the larger Judeo-Christian tradition, tell us about the most pressing problems of public policy?" After all,

it is not as if potential moral applications are not readily at hand. They fairly cry out to us at every turn. Are we to believe that a religion whose central affirmation is of a Creator God who has endowed every human being with the traces of his own image, and upon whose authority rests a comprehensive law of life, has nothing useful to to say to us about such issues as partial-birth abortion, euthanasia, welfare policy, divorce, ...
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