The Magazine

The God Issue in 2002

The Democrats' faith-based dilemma.

Dec 31, 2001, Vol. 7, No. 16 • By FRANK CANNON and JEFFREY BELL
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President Bush continues to press his case and has made it clear he expects a Senate vote on some version of the faith-based bill in early 2002. This impending confrontation will represent an important test of whether post-September 11 religious expression will be given a renewed position of respect in the public policy debate.

On an even more fundamental level, the cloning debate will reveal whether America remains committed to the notion that all individuals derive their worth and their liberties from their Creator. Here again, the president has staked out a clear position. He has condemned the cloning of embryos as "wrong" and warned that "we should not as a society grow life in order to destroy it." The House of Representatives passed a comprehensive ban on human cloning in July, but the Senate under Daschle's leadership has yet to act. The issue should be brought up there in March. The debate will go a long way toward revealing whether the sacredness of the individual is an immutable American principle or subject to redefinition based on technological developments.

A belief in the centrality and literalness of the principles of the Declaration of Independence has sustained America in our times of crisis. At the heart of that understanding is a simple truth that American elites have come to treat with contempt or embarrassment: God is the author of our equality and our liberties. The policy debates of 2002 may answer this question: Does our nation still hold to this fundamental truth?

Frank Cannon and Jeffrey Bell are principals of Capital City Partners, a Washington-based consulting firm.