Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday that there is no concept more misunderstood in American public discourse than the “separation of church and state.”
Barr spoke at the virtual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Tuesday morning where he accepted the Christifideles Laici Award for “exemplary selfless and steadfast service in the lord’s vineyard.”
The attorney general warned that secularists in the United States have attempted to replace faith with “a new orthodoxy that is actively hostile to religion.” The consequences have been dire, Barr said, referencing drug abuse, broken families, and “urban violence.”
“In American public discourse, perhaps no concept is more misunderstood than the notion of separation of church and state,” Barr said. “Militant secularists have long seized on that slogan as a facile justification for attempting to drive religion from the public square and to exclude religious people from bringing a religious perspective to bear on conversations about the common good.”
“Yet as events like this one remind us, separation of Church and state does not mean, and never did mean, separation of religion and civics,” he continued. The attorney general said Catholics should be active in public life and politics to preserve their religious freedoms, adding that it is “never too late” to do so.
His comments come as media linked a Catholic group associated with potential Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the fictional dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” falsely reporting that the Catholic group People of Praise was the inspiration for the book.
Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse slammed this line of criticism a Tuesday statement.
“These ugly smears against Judge Barrett are a combination of anti-Catholic bigotry and QAnon-level stupidity,” Sasse said. “People of Praise is basically a Bible study — and just like billions of Christians around the world, Judge Barrett reads the Bible, prays, and tries to serve her community.”
“Senators should condemn this wacky McCarthyism,” he added.
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