Without justice as its ultimate grounding, law can become an instrument of tyranny. Without justice as an ideal, on what ground can citizens in a democracy criticize and even (on great occasions) disobey its mandates? The Constitution, whispers one commentator, is the ultimate foundation of our law. Yes, but the Constitution endorsed enslaving our fellow human beings. The state and its laws are not always right. If we cannot judge the law and find it wanting, what happens to democracy itself?
In practice, radical secularism (though viewing itself as neutral) ends up in many cases being deeply hostile to democracy and democratic freedoms. So elites applaud Turkey for laws that the ordinary American would view as tyrannical: e.g. banning religious dress at public universities. In India this week, the government sent thousands of constables to arrest a Hindu nationalist leader, Pravin Togadia. His crime? He violated a government edict forbidding religious rallies at election time. The New York Times, viewing this through the prism of radical secularism, chose to applaud the government crackdown against a "provocative rally." Perhaps the imminent dangers justified the imposition of martial law. Perhaps.
But look how easily and casually elites who have decided that religion is the enemy of democracy endorse government oppression of basic human rights.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.