The Founders did not intend the federal government to be limited only by law. They also wanted it limited by a public square thick with private social institutions. The American Enterprise Institute's Arthur Brooks notes that more than half of all the civic institutions in American life have a religious purpose or affiliation—and that our liberty is linked to theirs.
That's what Mr. Obama's own appointee to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, meant in the recent Supreme Court case (Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC) about religious liberty. There she wrote that "religious bodies have been the pre-eminent example" of what an earlier court called "critical buffers between the individual and the power of the State.'"
That speaks to the real end game of the Obama project. In a recent Web post for National Review, Yuval Levin sums up what it means to drive religious life in America into Amish-like enclaves: "In this arena, as in a great many others, the administration is clearly determined to see civil society as merely an extension of the state, and to clear out civil society—clearing out the mediating layers between the individual and the state—when it seems to stand in the way of achieving the president's agenda. The idea is to leave as few non-individual players as possible in the private sphere, and to turn those few that are left into agents of the government."
Ironically, the actual fact is just the opposite of what the French revolutionaries thought. The individual without institutions like family and church to nurture him becomes dependent upon an overweening state that dominates and devours him.
Recent consequences of the Obama Presidency specifically and Democratic Party hegemony generally are noteworthy.
So the harsh winds of modern American liberalism blow through the civic landscape. The Boy Scouts are deemed a "religious organization" to evict them from a San Diego public park they had beautifully maintained for a half-century. Catholic welfare agencies are pushed out of the adoption business because they will not place babies with gay couples. And in their public pronouncements, senior administration officials, including the president and the secretary of state, tend to speak of "the freedom to worship" instead of a much broader "freedom of religion."
At last week's National Prayer Breakfast, the president harkened back to his 2008 script, talking up how his own faith informs his public decisions. What people see these days, however, is the candidate who derided small-town Americans as "bitter" people clinging "to guns or religion."
Turns out he was more correct than he knew. Except that what these Americans are clinging to might better be described as the Second and First Amendments.
The President forms part of that multitude, which over the past fifty years studied law not to learn anything about justice from it, but rather to instruct it in the higher ways of Leftist compassion. They have deformed the law--made it anti-human and anti-life--among other ways by replacing the founders' document with a living, breathing constitution, which curiously only breathes with its Left lung.
President Obama's allegiance is not to America or its traditions. It is to the dream of the French revolutionaries and their heirs: to level out any- and everything that stands in the way of the individual and the revolutionary's notion of what is best for him.