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April 03, 2015

Interview With a Law Professor, Hiding In the Christian Closet

Interesting piece.

I spent a long time on the phone last night with a law professor at one of the countryís elite law schools. This professor is a practicing Christian, deeply closeted in the workplace; he is convinced that if his colleagues in academia knew of his faith, they would make it very hard for him. We made contact initially by e-mail -- he is a reader of this blog -- and last night, by phone. He agreed to speak with me about the Indiana situation on condition that I not identify him by name or by institution....

I will call him Prof. Kingsfield, after the law professor in The Paper Chase.

...

Like me, what unnerved Prof. Kingsfield is not so much the details of the Indiana law, but the way the overculture treated the law. "When a perfectly decent, pro-gay marriage religious liberty scholar like Doug Laycock, who is one of the best in the country -- when what he says is distorted, you know how crazy it is."

"Alasdair Macintyre is right," he said. "It's like a nuclear bomb went off, but in slow motion." What he meant by this is that our culture has lost the ability to reason together, because too many of us want and believe radically incompatible things.

I think this is a very common conclusion people are coming to -- the center cannot hold, and we're tired of trying to make it hold.

We are heading for a national rupture. Divorce is best done quickly. I do not wish to spend further years in a bad marriage. Divorce is coming, and so it should come quickly.

But only one side has the power. When I asked Kingsfield what most people outside elite legal and academic circles don't understand about the way elites think, he said "thereís this radical incomprehension of religion."

"They think religion is all about being happy-clappy and nice, or should be, so they donít see any legitimate grounds for the clash," he said. "They make so many errors, but they donít want to listen."

To elites in his circles, Kingsfield continued, "at best religion is something consenting adult should do behind closed doors. They donít really understand that thereís a link between Sister Helen Prejean's faith and the work she does on the death penalty. There's a lot of looking down on flyover country, one middle America.

"The sad thing," he said, "is that the old ways of aspiring to truth, seeing all knowledge as part of learning about the nature of reality, they don't hold. It's all about power. They've got cultural power, and think they should use it for good, but their idea of good is not anchored in anything. Theyíve got a lot of power in courts and in politics and in education. Their job is to challenge people to think critically, but thinking critically means thinking like them. They really do think that they know so much more than anybody did before, and there is no point in listening to anybody else, because they have all the answers, and believe that they are good."

On the conservative side, said Kingsfield, Republican politicians are abysmal at making a public case for why religious liberty is fundamental to American life.

"The fact that Mike Pence canít articulate it, and Asa Hutchinson doesnít care and canít articulate it, is shocking,Ē Kingsfield said.

It's a long piece and if you like that there's more where that came from.


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posted by Ace at 12:57 PM

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