Practical Atheism by S. M. Hutchens


Practical Atheism

by S. M. Hutchens

There has been much response to Touchstone’s April issue, in which the Democratic party was characterized as godless, and portrayed as having developed in recent years into something no Christian can in good conscience support. Subscriptions have been angrily canceled and declarations that we will be prayed for received. More attention has been given to this issue than any other we have published. The most common criticisms are that Touchstone, a religious magazine, is now dabbling in politics, where it has no business, and that the April issue was in fact a Republican party tract in which the editors displayed their political preferences more than their Christianity. What, one suspects, some of our off-put correspondents wished to see in subsequent issues is some kind of muted apology that we were in some places a bit rough and high-handed, along with a good-natured admission that good Christians can have varying opinions on these matters. But we don’t think they can. Things have gradually but surely come to the point where we must say that to the degree Christians have been co-opted by the Democrats, they are no longer good.

The April 2003 Touchstone was, to be sure, out of the ordinary, as James Kushiner indicated in the introductory material. It is true that we normally “don’t do politics,” at least not directly. But the senior editors agree that the Democratic party has in the last generation undergone changes that make it impossible for a knowledgeable Christian to support it in good conscience, just as it was once impossible for a knowledgeable Christian in Germany to vote in good conscience for the Nazi party, whatever good that party may have done, and however many religious allies it might have had. (Remember the smiling bishops of Deutsche Gemeinde and the grim joke about making the trains run on time.) As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Jerzy Popieluszko, Corrie Ten Boom, Maximilian Kolbe, and a host of other witnesses remind us, there are “political matters” about which Christians sin if they remain silent and passive. It is true that the Church and the State are two distinct sovereignties; it is not true, nor has it ever been, that the churches are obliged to remain silent when the state or its organs, such as its political parties, devote themselves to evil purposes.


S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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