Separation of Church and State: Speaking Truth to Power

A group of prominent Catholic academics recently sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner challenging him to consider his policies.

In 1162 Thomas Becket gave Henry II the chancellor’s ring back when the king made him Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry was at that time engaged in a good enterprise, making a national state (also with a bad enterprise, messing around in France) and furious that Thomas didn’t see the church as having a duty to advance Henry’s program. I think Thomas understood, as Henry did not, that independent moral guidance from things like churches is indispensable to good governance, and that the enduring scarce resource for managers is not only honest counsel, uncomfortable or not, but also honest counsel that others can see that you have received.

That kind of honest advice and comment is also one of the things universities are supposed to give us, even when we don’t like what some tenured prof doing his own thinking says, so it’s a good day when a bunch of academic clerics, rejoicing in the religious freedom our founders put in place and stepping up to accept the duties it entails, play Thomas to John Boehner and his band of freebooters. You rock, profs and padres. (HT Digby)

[Cross-posted at Same Facts]

Michael O’Hare

Michael O'Hare is a Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.