The indispensable Peter Berger has posted a helpful discussion of the implications of the recent and ongoing controversy over the contraceptive mandate, the main one of which, to his mind, is the further clarification of the common interests of religious people over and against the secularist “base” of the Democratic Party.
Berger reviews the history of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, the project initiated by Richard John Neuhaus and Chuck Colson that continues to this day. It’s urgency and purpose, he observes, stemmed less from warm theological fellow-feeling and more from the ways in which an increasingly aggressive secular elite drove together once bitter theological enemies.
Berger sees the trend continuing. Back in the day we saw various battles of orthodoxyCalvinist vs, well, other Calvinists, or Catholic vs Protestant, and so forth. Now we see the battle between the very idea of religious orthodoxy and secular claims that religion may need to be tolerated (for a time?) but should be brought to heel.
I’m sure that Berger is right. The culture wars stem from the dramatic growth in those who say that have no religion (growing from 3 percent or so in 1960 to something like 17 percent today). They are a very aggressive minority who believe that they own the future, and they have been hammering away on the Judeo-Christian cultural consensus for decades. That’s why we have a culture war, not religious “extremism.”