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Jack Beatty on Pat Robertson

February 08, 1988

Beatty displays an admirable rhetorical skill, heaping mockery on the very idea of a Christian political movement at the same time as he complains that social norms prevent those such as Robertson from receiving the "hard scrutiny" they so richly deserve. Does he really mean to suggest that it is high time we give up our deference to religion?

The evidence that Beatty himself points to--a divorce rate near 50%, 1 million abortions a year, runaway pregnancy rates among unmarried teens, and militant homosexuality--hardly supports his claim. These are social realities that do not suggest a cultural deference to any religious tradition at all, much less to the Judeo-Christian ethic.

Beatty thinks it is laughable that "Robertson voters" would actually attempt to use the political process to address these social realities. Yet even he cannot praise them.

Skyrocketing rates of divorce, illegitimacy, abortion and so forth are not credibly laid to the door of "market capitalism," to use Beatty's quaint phrase. They are at least in part a consequence of specific legal reforms and court rulings handed down in the last 20 years. We've had no "secularism amendment" to the Constitution. But our laws have been radically reformed to suit the preferences of the "born again skeptics."

One does not need to admire Robertson or support his campaign in order to see that his movement is attempting to grapple with the social havoc in large measure caused by our ill-considered experiment in relativism. One does not have to endorse his specific remedies in order to see that this society must arrive at some consensus about morals and values.

Let the boundaries be drawn broadly. Let the rules be generous. But boundaries and rules we must have.

It's easy to laugh at a man who allegedly planned to syndicate the second coming of Christ. But mockery of the pro-life, pro-family values of his supporters and sympathizers does not deserve the name of religious skepticism.


Executive Director

Catholic League of California


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