Attorney General Barr Preaches a Secular Law-and-Order Christianity

Photo: SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

One of my favorite speeches in recent history was delivered by Barack Obama at Notre Dame University ten years ago. In it he warned against the particular kind of self-righteousness for which the Christian Right – and some advocates of an equally non-reflective Christian Left – is famed, in its certainty that God’s Will dictates particular political positions that are largely a matter of secular concern. Here’s a sample:

[T]he ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.

This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame.

As I noted at the time, Obama was offering a distinctively religious rationale for separation of church and state:

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