Public Square
(March 1997)

Richard John Neuhaus

Copyright (c) 1997 First Things 71 (March 1997): 56-70.

Contents of Public Square:

  • A Mirror of the National Soul
  • The Lonely Burden of Rule
  • The Drinan Affair, Again
  • In Defense of the Unlikable
  • Ideas Have Consequences, Again
  • While We're At It

  • A Mirror of the National Soul

    An incisive article by Hadley Arkes (with Arkes, the adjective is superfluous) engages the argument of a new book by Harvard's Harvey C. Mansfield, Machiavelli's Virtue (University of Chicago Press). Machiavelli's virtue, of course, has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with effectiveness in political rule. In this view, regimes are essentially the same, whether they be called democracies or monarchies, whether headed by Stalin or Cesare Borgia. As Mansfield puts it, "The ruling part is always the same and only the relation of princes to each other and of princes to the people discloses the nature of the regime." Arkes writes: "That is what Machiavelli understood about the reality of modern government: that it is the hand of the ruler, working under the fictions of the law." The additional fiction in democracies is that the people consent to the laws.

    Along the way, Arkes suggests that the unhappiness of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia with today's judiciary is because "in his earnestness, he is still attached to the precious notion that we have a 'government of laws,' an impersonal regime of rules, described in the Constitution." Not quite right, I think. My impression is that Justice Scalia is hardly naive; he is keenly aware that we are not now governed by the Constitution of the founders. It is simply that he thinks we should be. There are many other points worth an argument in Arkes' New Criterion essay, including his Straussian (Leo, that is) speculation that Mansfield has almost nothing to say about morality and religion precisely because, in good Straussian fashion, he is concealing what he knows to be most important. It may be, writes Arkes, "that in the politics shaped by Machiavelli, in the world we inhabit now, a realistic doctrine of virtue may have to be conveyed as a covert teaching. It is not something that the urbane, in our day, will proclaim openly and teach in public." Since Arkes himself does teach very openly a realistic doctrine of virtue, I take that as a criticism of Mansfield. But one never knows for sure with these Straussians.

    Where I'm inclined to think that Arkes is wrong is in his suggestion that Machiavellian cynicism explains the support for Bill Clinton even by people who think he is a scoundrel. He notes that surveys indicate that a majority of Americans think Clinton lacks honesty and integrity, but also think he has honesty and integrity enough to be President. "It becomes more and more apparent," writes Arkes, "that Bill Clinton is a reflection of something in the American character, and the public reaction to Clinton offers a precise reflection, at this moment, of the national soul."

    Well, yes, but mainly no. One does not need sophisticated political theory to know that not very long ago politicians were disqualified by personal moral failings, including lechery (remember Gary Hart) or even divorce (remember Nelson Rockefeller). A sympathetic press hushed up John F. Kennedy's womanizing precisely because it was assumed that, were it known, it would be politically deadly. I doubt if there has been much change in "the national soul," although what has changed may well, in time, change the national soul. What has changed is that the combination of Bill Clinton and the multiplication of media-especially tabloids and talk radio-has made it impossible to keep secret the man's egregious transgressions. What has changed is that the prestige media, so eager for his victory, and his opponents, so eager not to seem nasty, decided that the man's wretched character is a political nonissue.

    Ten or thirty years ago, there were no doubt many Americans who were quite blase about politicians' personal derelictions. Then as now, they may even have rather admired them as lovable rogues. The difference is that our intellectual leadership, the media, and the then-mainline churches did not tell the morally slovenly sector of the electorate that they were right in their indifference to character. This time they did precisely that, so desperately did they want Clinton to win. As FDR is reported to have said of a Latin America dictator, "He's an SOB, but he's our SOB." This does not represent a change in "the national soul" any more than the flaunting of shamelessness on television talk shows is a change in the national soul. I expect there was always an audience for shows exhibiting sons who want to sleep with their mothers or workers who steal from their employees. It is simply that, until recently, the television industry and its advertisers didn't pander to these low tastes. Now they do.

    As I say, this may be working a change in the national soul, but we shouldn't blame the national soul for what is done by very specific people who should know better. "America" did not decide one afternoon that it would be a good idea to put on the newsstands a magazine with center-fold pornography. The peddlers of pornography decided that, and they were supported by judges who are real people with names. "America" did not decide it is all right for women to kill their babies at whim. Seven lawyers on the Supreme Court decided that. And on and on. I certainly do not deny that there is such a thing as public morality and it may, with care, be called the national soul, which may be changing for the worse. I do very much question whether the reelection of Bill Clinton is to be attributed to a popular embrace of Machiavelli's anti- virtue. For calculated partisan reasons, often publicly admitted, those who control the commanding heights of the political culture decided to appeal to the weaknesses rather than the strengths of the populace, and persuaded enough voters that virtue does not matter. Of course they were greatly helped by a politically skillful rogue and his worse than inept opponents.

    Hadley Arkes is right that "Bill Clinton is a reflection of something in the American character." It is a something that is usually repressed and not mentioned in polite company. But I doubt that "the public reaction to Clinton offers a precise reflection, at this moment, of the national soul." The generalization is not saved even by the hedge "at this moment." I would not be at all surprised if, at this moment, a majority of Americans, including a majority of those who voted for Clinton, are more than a little embarrassed to have as a President someone whom they pray their children will not be like. The national soul, inclined to vice as to virtue, is also resilient and will, please God, get other chances to express itself. Of course, supply-side politics, like supply- side economics, requires that people perceive that something better is on offer. Meanwhile, it is premature to say that the national soul has turned Machiavellian just because 23 percent of the eligible voters, in resignation to the devil they know, and being provided with no persuasive arguments by the devil they didn't know, decided to stick with what they were stuck with.

    The Lonely Burden of Rule

    It all depends upon your community of discourse, I suppose. I thought Jeffrey Rosen's profile of Justice Anthony Kennedy in the New Yorker, titled "The Agonizer," was devastating. But a friend at Harvard Law School tells me that people there thought it highly complimentary. That is very depressing. Rosen notes that Kennedy was appointed by Ronald Reagan to provide some conservative balance to the Court but, on issue after issue, he has come down solidly on the liberal side of things. In explaining to law students his 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Kennedy was very moving. "If a member of his family ever became pregnant, Justice Kennedy said, he would do his best to persuade her to keep the child. He would offer to adopt the baby, even to rear it himself, rather than sanction what he fervently believed was the taking of innocent life. At this point, students recall, Justice Kennedy's eyes filled with tears and his voice broke. But when it came time to decide the abortion case, Kennedy said, he couldn't impose his personal views on the nation."

    Justice Kennedy, as is said inside the beltway, has "grown" wondrously since his appointment. Rosen writes, "Where Justice Kennedy goes, so goes the Supreme Court: for the past three terms, in 5-4 cases, he has voted with the majority more often than any other Justice, and so has been the pivotal figure in case after case." Like Chief Justice Earl Warren, the father of the current phase of judicial activism, Kennedy demonstrates an "impatience with the niceties of legal doctrine, a penchant for expressing simple constitutional principles in ringing terms, and a lack of concern about the costs of short-circuiting political debates by means of extravagant demonstrations of judicial power." Kennedy's opinions reveal an affinity for the grand generalization magisterially articulated. Rosen writes: "Justice Kennedy's opinions sometimes call to mind a high-school civics lesson that aspires to be chiseled on a monument. And the conflict aroused by his personal conservatism, his judicial libertarianism, and his expansive vision of the role of the Court has led-in the abortion and gay-rights cases, in particular-to an anguished assertiveness that has not entirely satisfied partisans on either side."

    Rosen says that Kennedy "shows little compunction about allowing unelected judges, rather than democratic legislatures, to decide controversial questions of social policy." "You know the problem," Kennedy told Rosen in an interview, "What's the appropriate stopping point, so that you don't have a national legislature with the scope of the Supreme Court?" According to Rosen, Kennedy has no answer to his own question. Kennedy's image of the judge seems to be that of the Platonic guardian or even the philosopher king. He is the author of the infamous "mystery passage" in the Casey decision: "At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." Wow.

    The People Out There

    Rosen asked Kennedy about his discussion of the abortion decision with the law students. "Kennedy seemed a little flustered. 'I had forgotten that. We, of course, in our family and our tradition-I doubt that anybody would go that route, but that isn't the world out there. There are many people out there who don't have supportive families, who don't have any families. They have boyfriends, or even pimps, who're going to beat them up if they find out about it. It's that sort of world out there. Now, that doesn't mean that there aren't important moral concerns, which everybody should be aware of.'" Being translated: We of course have our standards, but as for the people out there . . .

    Kennedy complains that the job of a Justice comes with the burden of lonely anguishing. "There's a quietness, there's stillness, as you recognize, no matter which case, which position prevails, that there are long-term consequences that are the result of our verdict. And we like to say that it's the force of the Constitution, as we must. But it's hard." Uneasy rests the head that wears the crown. Of course we like to say, we must say, that the decision is mandated by the Constitution, but we all know how it is in the real world.

    Rosen writes: "At some point during the next four years, the President may well have the opportunity to select a new Chief Justice. Kennedy is said to be interested in the job. And if Bill Clinton should want a Chief Justice in his own image-earnest, idealistic, gregarious, fair- minded, willing to take public positions that offend his own policy preferences, and able to feel the pain of those he disappoints-he might be more comfortable with Anthony Kennedy than with one of his own nominees." He concludes his profile of Justice Kennedy with this: "'Society has to recognize that it has to confront hard decisions in neutral, rational, dispassionate debate,' Kennedy told me. 'And not just leave it to courts.' Behind the rimless spectacles, his pale-blue eyes flashed. 'That's a weak society that leaves it to courts.'" For a weak society that has wearied of self-government, Justice Kennedy is reluctantly, agonizingly, selflessly ready to assume the burden of judicial tyranny. As I said, at Harvard Law School they thought the profile highly complimentary, or so I am told.

    The Drinan Affair, Again

    Shameless is the unavoidable word for Father Robert Drinan, S.J., and for those who continue to publish him as an authority on religion and public life. For years as a consistently pro-abortion Congressman, he provided cover for Catholic politicians who cravenly declared themselves "personally opposed but . . ." During the 1996 campaign, he published in the New York Times a ringing defense of Clinton's veto of the partial-birth abortion bill. His Jesuit superiors did some public mumbling to the effect that he did not necessarily speak for them, and Cardinal Hickey of Washington demanded a public retraction, but no retraction has appeared.

    Instead, the Tablet publishes Drinan's celebratory article on Clinton's reelection ("America's Comeback Kid"), which is described as being of "landslide proportions." Less than 50 percent of the vote in the lowest turnout in more than seventy years is a novel definition of "landslide." In his fevered partisanship, Drinan is brazenly unrepentant: "Some pro-life Republicans wanted to make abortion a prime issue in the campaign in order to embarrass and hurt Clinton's reelection possibilities. The Catholic bishops and some of the pro-life community had worked hard to pass a so-called partial-birth bill to regulate late-term abortions." Drinan makes no secret of the pleasure he takes in the failure of the effort to ban infanticide.

    He does allow that there is "a widespread feeling that [Clinton] cannot be trusted," but he attributes this to "the relentless attack of a Republican Congress on the President's character and integrity." Such attacks may increase, says Drinan, but "polls show that American voters dislike low tactics and react negatively to those who indulge in them." He concludes with the observation that "most Americans think of their nation as being on a sacred pilgrimage destined by God's providence to give light and courage to the entire world," and with the hope that Clinton, "who is a very intelligent and deeply religious man," will restore that vision.

    It is a remarkable depiction of the current American circumstance. One can imagine Drinan, who had a prominent part in the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon, standing by a beleaguered President Clinton, taking over the role of that hapless rabbi who served as Nixon's apologist to the bitter end. As a political partisan, Robert Drinan is relentlessly faithful. As a priest and a Jesuit, he is shameless. When his defense of infanticide appeared in the Times, Cardinal O'Connor of New York wrote a sadly thoughtful column on how Drinan had brought shame on himself and the priesthood. O'Connor, Hickey, and other bishops have protested, as well they should, but where is the response of the Society of Jesus-either in the New England Province to which Drinan belongs or in Rome?

    At the risk of again troubling admirably faithful Jesuits, of whom there are many, one notes that the leadership of the Society of Jesus is forfeiting the confidence of many thoughtful Catholics. For more than twenty-five years, Fr. Drinan's has been among the more egregious instances of contumacious defiance of authority and teaching, but he is by no means alone. When last year a Catholic magazine revealed the long pattern of mendacity by which Rome and American bishops were misled, to put it gently, in order to further Drinan's political career, the only evident response by the Society was to call on the carpet the young Jesuit who, in a perfectly honorable manner, supplied the magazine with the pertinent documentation. In 1992, Drinan wrote in the Boston Globe, "No Jesuit I ever met thought it a good idea that I was required to leave Congress after serving from 1971-1981." His order is not that far gone, or perhaps it is that he meets only like-minded Jesuits.

    Jesuits who care deeply about what is happening to their community say they would like to be able to offer assurances that these and other scandals are being dealt with discreetly, out of the public eye, but they cannot. The inevitable result is the public perception of a society that cannot or will not address the disarray and demoralization of its own leadership. Jesuits at high levels have reflected that perhaps the days of the Society are coming to an end, that in the life of the Church the Jesuit charism may be neither permanent nor necessary. Perhaps that is the case, but one can only contemplate the prospect with great sadness. In the entrance of the Jesuit headquarters in Rome is a striking statue of Ignatius with the motto Ite incendite-"Go set the world aflame"-his parting words to Francis Xavier who was carrying the Gospel to the East. One must hope that flame is not being extinguished.

    In Defense of the Unlikable

    One of the distressing things about defending religious freedom is that you end up defending people you might not like very much. Having never met Tony Alamo, I don't know whether I would like him or not, but I think not. His time in jail and being denied parole, however, poses an important test of the free exercise provision of the First Amendment, and also of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) passed by Congress in 1993.

    Back in the sixties, Alamo (born Bernie Lazar Hoffman) and his wife Susan Alamo launched a Christian ministry to drug addicts, prostitutes, petty criminals, and sundry dropouts in West Hollywood, California, and pretty soon they had about a thousand people living and working in commune-type churches in California, Arkansas, Brooklyn, and several other places. Church members produced, inter alia, glitzy Alamo jackets and other custom clothing that was the rage for a while among celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, and James Brown. In 1972, then-governor Ronald Reagan issued a commendation for the group's work against drugs and crime.

    Claiming to follow the example of the early Church in Acts 2, the group held everything in common and distributed goods according to individual need. Of course, Alamo was in charge and, while everyone was equal, he was no doubt more equal than others, but nobody was coerced into joining or staying with the community. Then came the U.S. Department of Labor, in the group's first trouble with the law, claiming that "workers" had to be paid the minimum wage and that Alamo had to conform to government record-keeping requirements. That was protested all the way to the Supreme Court, which sided with the government while recognizing that the group's activities were religious in nature.

    Enter CAN (the Cult Awareness Network). CAN became notorious for its role in the Waco tragedy of 1993, but for a long time before that had been involved in court cases and doubtfully legal activities against any religious or quasi-religious eccentricity it labeled a "cult." The organization has been sharply criticized by the American Psychological Association and scholars of religion, and in 1996 was forced into bankruptcy when a jury rendered a verdict of $3.5 million against CAN for violating a plaintiff's civil right to freely practice his religion. The U.S. Department of Justice used CAN, however, to go after Alamo on charges of tax evasion. The prosecution highlighted Alamo's admittedly strange religious doctrines and charges that church members practiced polygamy, convincing the jury that this is indeed one of those dangerous "cults" and its leader is guilty of using "mind control" to dominate his followers. Alamo was sentenced to six years in prison.

    Parole Denied

    Now sixty-two years old and ailing, Alamo is in a federal prison in Texarkana, Texas. Last March he was denied parole. The parole commissioner who reviewed the request wrote: "[Plaintiff Alamo] committed his scheme by exerting unusually strong control over very vulnerable 'religious followers' of his. He used destitute people, unwed young mothers, and children to bring in money in exchange for living in subject's religious compound. According to the PSI [Pre-Sentence Investigative Report] and the victims, subject had followers abused physically and psychologically. This was a cult in the truest sense and subject's followers were used like slaves" (emphasis in original). The final decision to deny parole stated, "Your lack of any remorse weighs heavily against you." But, of course, to express remorse would have been tantamount to denying his convictions based on what he claimed to be a literal reading of the Bible.

    A number of distinguished folk have protested the treatment of Alamo, including J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religions in Santa Barbara. The Rev. Dean Kelley, counselor on religious liberty for the National Council of Churches and a contributor to these pages, brought the case to my attention. They point out that, whatever we may think of his claims, the members of his church think that Alamo is a divinely inspired prophet and that the social and economic relations of the church are mandated by Scripture. Kelley notes that it is typical that groups reaching out to convert people in crisis in order to save them from a sinful world develop "clear boundaries and shared expectations of a dedicated community" aimed at supporting their rehabilitation. But all of this counts for little with the government that-while claiming to be assiduously "neutral" in matters religious- knows a cult when it sees one.

    A U.S. District Court refused to hear Alamo's appeal because, it said, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not give federal courts the power to review a denial of parole. That refusal is now, in turn, being appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, with amici curiae being filed by a number of friends of religious freedom. In Ballard (1943) the Supreme Court declared: "The Fathers of the Constitution were not unaware of the varied and extreme views of religious sects, of the violence of disagreement among them, and of the lack of any one religious creed on which all men would agree. They fashioned a charter of government which envisaged the widest possible tolerance of conflicting views. Man's relationship to his God was made no concern of the state. He was granted the right to worship as he pleased and to answer to no man for the verity of his religious views. The religious views espoused by respondents might seem preposterous, to most people. But if those doctrines are subject to trial before a jury charged with finding their truth or falsity, then the same can be done with the religious beliefs of any sect."

    It is no concern of the state unless, as in the case of Tony Alamo and too many others, the views are really preposterous. And unless people try to actually live according to their preposterous beliefs. Again, I hold no brief for Tony Alamo or his movement, and probably wouldn't like the man if I met him. For all I know, he may have been doing something shady such as tax evasion. That is not the point. The point is that the U.S. Government has no business declaring that the beliefs and practices of the Alamo church constitute a cult and are therefore not protected by the free-exercise provision of the First Amendment. The point is that the defense of religious freedom sometimes requires the defense of people and movements that we distinctly dislike. (For more information about the Alamo case, write his attorney, Mr. Harry Kresky, 250 West 57th Street, Suite 2015, New York, NY 10107.)

    Ideas Have Consequences, Again

    The January 8 oral arguments before the Supreme Court on doctor-assisted suicide seemed to go very well, with a number of justices raising just the right questions. "Everything you've said, it seems to me, could go on in a legislative chamber," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a lawyer arguing in favor of a constitutional right to suicide. "This case raises the basic question of who decides," Ginsburg added. "Is this ever a proper question for courts to decide?" To the same lawyer, Justice David Souter put the question, "Why shouldn't we conclude that as an institution we are not in the position to make the judgment that you want us to make?" Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed concern that upholding the Ninth Circuit's finding of a constitutional right to suicide would "in effect declare unconstitutional" the law of almost every state in the union. Which, of course, is precisely what the Court did with abortion in Roe v. Wade. Some long-term observers of the Court could not believe they were hearing such unwonted expressions of judicial self-restraint.

    Superstar Laurence Tribe of Harvard waxed eloquent about death with dignity, to which Justice Antonin Scalia responded, "This is lovely philosophy. Where is it in the Constitution?" Scalia, as is so often the case, may have had the best line. He asked why the right to suicide should be limited to the terminally ill, and the lawyer responded that with the terminally ill "the dying process has begun." Scalia rejoined, "I have to tell you, the dying process of all of us has begun."

    A noted journalist remarked to me, "You people at First Things must be feeling very gratified." It is true that at least several Justices had read our symposia on judicial usurpation with care, and have been following the ensuing debate about the role of the courts in our polity. And it was encouraging to hear Speaker Newt Gingrich declare at his swearing-in that judicial usurpation would be high on the agenda of the new Congress, with Henry Hyde's Judiciary Committee holding full- scale hearings and looking at possible legislation. Congressman Hyde is, we are pleased to note, a devoted reader of the journal. But credit where credit is due. The Justices had to be impressed by some thirty- nine amici curiae briefs opposing assisted suicide. Major institutions, ranging from the American Medical Association to the U.S. Catholic Conference, submitted detailed arguments on the moral, legal, and medical folly of declaring a constitutional right to suicide. One cannot help but wonder what difference it would have made had as many comparably compelling briefs been submitted prior to the 1973 Roe decision that took everyone by surprise by abolishing the nation's laws protecting the unborn.

    In addition, William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, wields considerable influence in Washington, and, after the Standard's initially critical reaction to our symposia, Kristol has been energetically pushing judicial usurpation as the number one challenge for the new Congress. Others are now joining in. That-plus the mangled reactions of such as The New Republic to the arguments in FT, and the vigorous reactions to the reactions-has made the judicial usurpation of politics a very hot topic inside the beltway.

    For all the repercussions of the FT initiative, be assured we are letting none of this go to our editorial heads. Of course it is pleasing when an argument is framed in a way that gets such demonstrable results, but keep in mind that statements such as those of Ginsburg and Souter could, without too much difficulty, be squared with the devious strategy of the Clinton Administration that Russell Hittinger discusses in this issue. Then too, oral argument is no sure portent of how a decision will go. Moreover, even if the Court does restrain itself from inventing any kind of constitutional right to suicide, which we very much hope is the case, there remain numerous instances of the judicial usurpation of politics that need to be urgently addressed. The most egregious of these, of course, is Roe v. Wade and subsequent abortion decisions, on which the Ninth Circuit plausibly made its case for a constitutional right to assisted suicide.

    Finally, while we would not underplay the influence of the discussion in these pages, we hardly invented the question of judicial overreach. It has been a staple in our political discourse for a long time. What the writers in FT did was to bring the many parts of the argument together in an accessible way, and to frame it as a single argument about the future of democracy. In addition, we ratcheted up the stakes by taking seriously, as others had not, the Court's own ponderings in Casey about the "legitimacy" of the law that it was making. Richard Weaver's maxim that "ideas have consequences" has become something of a cliche, and it is often difficult to trace the exact connections between ideas and consequences. But in some cases it is less difficult than others. My own view is that the taking on of the legitimacy and democracy questions by the FT writers, and the alarms that that raised, contributed very significantly to putting judicial usurpation high on the political agenda. All that having been said, however, the response to the above-mentioned journalist is: Yes, it is very gratifying indeed, but gratification is severely tempered by an awareness of how much remains to be done, and undone, with respect to the judicial usurpation of politics.

    While We're At It

    Sources: Jeffrey Rosen on Justice Kennedy, New Yorker, November 11, 1996. Father Robert Drinan on 1996 presidential election, Tablet, November 16, 1996. On the case of Tony Alamo: Harry Kresky, personal correspondence. Supreme Court Justices on judicial restraint, New York Times, January 9, 1997.

    While We're At It: Ninth Circuit gaffs pointed out by Monsignor William Smith of St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, New York. M. Michael Morse on biblical literalism vs. taking Jesus seriously, Washington Post, October 20, 1996. Bishop James Walshe on changing observance of holy days, personal corespondence. On banning of Rush Limbaugh book, Rutherford Institute press release, October 30, 1996. On pledge to the devil, Forum Letter, November 1996. Edward Lucie- Smith on Robert Mapplethorpe, Spectator, October 12, 1996. On charities, New York Times, October 28, 1996; America, October 26, 1996; Les Lenkowsky speech at AEI, February 6, 1995. Peggy Steinfels interview in National Catholic Reporter, October 25, 1996. On "The Common Good and Catholic Social Teaching," Tablet, October 26, 1996. Edmund S. Morgan on The Crucible by Arthur Miller, New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997. Bishop Michael Ingham quoted on U.S. boycott of Cuba, Ecumenical News International, December 13, 1996. Anthony Lewis on Israel as a Jewish state, New York Times, December 26, 1996. Pope John Paul II on the persecution of Christians in China, L'Osservatore Romano, December 11, 1996. Luis Logo on the Pope and Castro, Capital Commentary, December 9, 1996. Rosemary Radford Ruether on Gustavo Gutierrez, National Catholic Reporter, October 18, 1996. On abortion in South Africa, Ecumenical News International, November 6, 1996. On illegal Bible study, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 27, 1996. On Wal-Mart refusing to sell some pornographic materials, New York Times, November 12, 1996. On religious referendums, Newark Star-Ledger, November 10, 1996; on satanic T-shirts, Star-Ledger, November 4, 1996. John B. Judis on the 1996 election, New Republic, November 25, 1996. George F. Will on teenage couple that killed their newborn son, Washington Post, November 24, 1996. On General Assembly of the National Council of Churches, National Catholic Reporter, November 22, 1996. On pro-gay conference "Beyond Inclusion," Anglican Internet, November 29, 1996. On Interfaith Alliance, Human Events, December 6, 1996.