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Why is it a commonplace to speak in terms of the religious right and secular left? Surely there has been a secular right: Ayn Rand, Friedrich Hayek, supply-siders, libertarians, and so forth. And there has been a Christian Left: Walter Rauschenbusch, Dorothy Day, and of course the Democratic Party’s favorite pastor, Jim Wallis. But the impression persists: right and religion go together — secular and left overlap. It’s an accurate impression. Oldline progressives like Rauschenbusch worried about economics and class. Today’s progressives are focused on culture and personal liberation. Religous Christians, Jews, and Muslims can disagree about which economic policies best serve the common good. But it’s hard to see how the basic cultural agenda of the Left — the freedom to define the meaning of one’s life — is consistent with any sort of view about obedience to God. Which is why the Left tends not just to be secular, but bitterly and aggressively secular: it is forbidden to forbid.



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