At the Center for Law and Religion Forum, University of Michigan law professor Dan Crane has been doing an interesting series of posts on the under-representation of Evangelicals within America’s legal elite. Dan notes that Evangelicals do not seem overly bothered by the fact that relatively few of them occupy positions at the top of the legal profession–no Evangelicals sit on the Supreme Court, for example–and wonders why. One explanation, he says, is that Evangelicals believe, and are comfortable with the fact, that Catholics represent their outlook on things. For example, he writes,
[A]fter the Supreme Court nomination of evangelical Harriet Miers fell apart (and to repeat a point from yesterday’s post, observe that Miers, an SMU Law grad, lacked “elite” credentials), there seemed to be no great reaction from evangelicals when John Roberts, a Catholic (who undoubtedly had elite credentials), was picked instead. The choice of Sam Alito, a Catholic, over one of the (very few) plausible evangelicals (like Mike McConnell) barely registered. . . .
Another implication—and I’ll go ahead and say it although I know I’ll get pushback (perhaps even assassination)—is that evangelicals care about identity, but increasingly understand evangelical and conservative Catholic identity as converging. Is it possible that, in the post-Vatican II world, evangelicals and Catholics are beginning to see themselves less as mere political allies and more as sharing a common identity in the loyal and traditionalist wing of Christendom? This is clearly happening at least at the margins (witness the growth of evangelical Catholicism and liturgical revivals within Protestant evangelicalism, for example).
One could understand the phenomenon Dan describes as part of a larger convergence among traditionalists generally. Nowadays, traditionalists often find they have more in common, politically speaking, with traditionalists in other religions than they do with progressives in their own. Some of these alliances will no doubt stop at political cooperation. But some could go further. Five hundred years after the Reformation, will the Living Constitution be the catalyst for restoring Christian unity in the West? Read Dan’s whole post here.