In a piece for the National Catholic Register, Gerard V. Bradley, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame and member of the James Wilson Institute Board of Scholars, presents a religious critique of the theme of unity emphasized by President Joe Biden in his inaugural address. Biden characterized America as an intensely secularized society in which individuals are increasingly isolated. He asserted that the American people are “desperately in need of a unifying force” to combat this malaise, but made no reference to the importance of God and religious communities in accomplishing this task. Bradley contrasts Biden’s address with past speeches by Washington, Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr., all of whom addressed a nation divided politically but united under God. They urged Americans to treat each other as brothers and sisters made in God’s image and recognized the need for strong institutions from the family upward. Bradley affirms that, by neglecting all of this, the best that Biden can hope to achieve is a “fragile and fitful conformity,” not true unity.
Some excerpts from the piece:
“Biden took for granted a desiccated devolution of the American way of life, a social vision that achieved a certain hegemony during his 50 years of public service. This new worldview is the work of liberals much more than conservatives. It was given heraldic expression by the Supreme Court in 1992, when the justices declared that the “heart” of our constitutional liberty is “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
“Biden’s speech never got aloft, never made God more than a rhetorical gesture. He nearly begged that we smash the horizontal barriers separating us. But the president eschewed the characteristically American appeal to a vertical axis for leverage.”
“We are not yet a secular people living each on his or her own autonomous island. Most important, there is no chance whatsoever for the renewal of American spirit, which Biden says is essential for survival, without a frank and full partnership between our political leaders and our religious leaders, and them with us under God. The president can be, and should be, faulted for making us over in what is, after all, a partial and partisan image.”
Read the full article here