In Defense of National Conservatism – Scott Yenor:
National conservatives would have public and private institutions honor Christianity above other religions and would protect the rights of minorities to practice their religious traditions. Fundamentally, national conservatives think that America should take its Protestant roots more seriously and legislate toward a Protestant vision of family life, public research and so on.
It’s worth noting that this is an explicit repudiation of a principle George Washington thought essential. In his once-famous and now-neglected letter to the Newport synagogue, Washington replies to a letter of praise and gratitude from members of that synagogue. They had written,
Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now (with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events) behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People — a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance — but generously affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language, equal parts of the great governmental Machine: This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual Confidence and Publick Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies Of Heaven and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good.
Washington expresses his appreciation for these kind words, but also insists upon a clarification:
The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
That is: I and people like me do not offer “toleration” to you and people like you, because it is not in the power of some Americans merely to tolerate the exercise of other Americans’ rights. To be an American is to be on the same footing with every other American. This is the view that Yenor rejects: he’s explicitly pursuing an America in which Protestant Christians have the power to tolerate others, and the liberties of those others depend upon the sufferance of their Protestant rulers.
It’s not going to happen, of course, but it’s another entry in the Dictionary of Contemporary Illiberalism. That Dictionary is getting pretty thick!