George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

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Campaign 2012: Religious Freedom vs. Exclusive Humanism

From Web Exclusives

Some years ago, the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor coined the term “exclusive humanism” to describe a disturbing phenomenon in Western societies: the determination of some intellectuals, activists, and politicians to scour public life of transcendent religious and moral reference points in the name of “tolerance” and “inclusion.” … Continue Reading »

Campaign 2012: The Future of the Pro-Life Cause

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“It’s the economy, stupid!””James Carville’s memorable note-to-self during the 1992 presidential race”will be the determining factor in the 2012 campaign, according to the common wisdom. That may be true. But as Catholics consider their responsibilities between now and November 6, it would be good to remember that the future of the pro-life cause in America is also at stake… . Continue Reading »

Campaign 2012: Burke vs. Hobbes?

From Web Exclusives

You likely think, gentle reader, that the 2012 presidential race is a contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. That, of course, is true, insofar as the names on our Nov. 6 ballots go. But the 2012 race for the White House is something more, something more profound”something with deeper historical roots in modernity’s wrestling with political power and how that power contributes to the common good… . Continue Reading »

Another Coalition for Religious Freedom?

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In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, a broad, bipartisan coalition quickly formed to restore to federal law a robust understanding of religious freedom, which many believed Smith had severely attenuated. RFRA, as the bill was known (abbreviating its title, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act), passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote, was adopted 97-3 by the U.S. Senate, and was signed into law by President Clinton on Nov. 16, 1993, its rapid and overwhelming passage a testimony to the strength of the pro-RFRA coalition… . Continue Reading »

The Church and the Unions

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The defense of nascent trade unionism in late-nineteenth-century America is a bright chapter in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. When a nervous Vatican was prepared to write off trade unions as the kind of “secret societies” the Church had long opposed, Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore defended the Knights of Labor in Rome and forestalled a Vatican condemnation of American unions”an accomplishment that helped the Church retain the loyalty of working class people… . Continue Reading »

Five Great Motets

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The Church’s liturgy has inspired great choral music for centuries. Unfortunately, that part of Catholicism’s cultural memory has been somewhat misplaced in recent years. One reason why is the widespread misapprehension among liturgists that 21st-century congregations can only “hear” music of the Andrew Lloyd Webber genre… . Continue Reading »

Can Organ-Harvesters Be Number One?

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Despite some hiccups caused by the sorry state of the world economy, China is still The Future for many global analysts. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has even suggested that Americans have a lot to learn politically from the economic successes of Chinese authoritarianism. That China is the rising world power seems taken for granted in many elite foreign policy circles… . Continue Reading »

The Reasons for “Partisanship”

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Complaints that Washington-is-broken, which seem to have new intensity in recent years, often go hand-in-hand with laments about “partisanship” in politics. And, to be sure, there are reasons to be concerned about the functionality of our political system and its ability to address and solve some very serious problems… . Continue Reading »

The Church and the End of the Welfare State

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Throughout the post-Vatican II years, the U.S. bishops’ conference has typically defended the welfare state and not infrequently urged its expansion. Everyone familiar with the situation knows that this has had far more to do with the political predilections of certain conference staff members than with the settled judgment of the American episcopate”or with a careful application of the principles of Catholic social doctrine. But things are changing … Continue Reading »

The War on (Little) Women and Other Insanities

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The Supreme Court’s minor mistakes have few systemic consequences. But when the Supremes make a big mistake, the error tends to seep throughout the entire political process, poisoning everything in its path. That was what happened with the Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision, which intensified the passions and accelerated the dynamics that led to the Civil War”and to 600,000 Americans killing each other… . Continue Reading »