An L.A. Times editor taunted Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in a piece on Saturday, telling the jurist not to worry about an increasingly secularized America because future generations that don’t know Jesus will promote America’s “well-being” better than Christian ones.
He also slammed the justice for the conservative-majority court’s decision on Roe v. Wade, saying it will diminish the religious liberty of his secular kids.
L.A. Times letters editor Paul Thornton directed his latest op-ed at Alito, the associate justice who composed the opinion in the Dobbs V. Jackson case that overturned Roe V. Wade, and who has expressed worry about American culture losing sight of God.
Recently, Alito remarked he sees a “a growing hostility to religion” in western culture and recounted being shocked upon witnessing a young boy express to his mother he had no idea who Jesus Christ was.
Thornton quoted Alito, who said, “That memory has stuck in my mind as a harbinger of what may lie ahead for our culture. And the problem that looms is not just indifference to religion — it’s not just ignorance about religion — there’s also a growing hostility to religion.”
Thornton remarked, “To him and those upholding Christian primacy in this country (which is waning, quickly), a child asking that question at all unsettles them.” He added that the question “doesn’t have to” trouble anyone because secular parenting and secular children are inclined to make a good society.
Thornton, who declared he’s raising his own children non-religiously, insisted that Alito should come to know “how secular parents navigate societies still dominated by religious traditions, how we talk about other people’s cherished beliefs, or how we try to impart empathy and compassion to children, who naturally seem inclined to both.”
The writer claimed that parents not having the “answers supplied by their faith traditions to complicated questions such as, ‘Who is that man on the cross?’ or “What happens when we die?’” might “be worrying,” but it is at the “same time liberating.”
Thornton cited Phil Zuckerman, a sociology and secular studies professor at Pitzer College, who “has spent much of his career putting minds at ease over secular childrearing,” he wrote. Pitzer told the editor that “The data overwhelmingly show an inverse relationship between a society’s religiosity and its measurable well-being.”
“Places like Japan (with no history of Christianity) and Scandinavia (historically Christian but predominantly nonreligious today) take better care of their elderly and have lower murder and poverty rates than the United States,” Thornton wrote, explaining what the professor has observed. The implication being a less Christian nation is a more moral one.
“If people like Alito truly were concerned about America growing less moral as we careen on our secularizing trajectory, those facts ought to reassure them,” Thornton wrote, adding, “Without the goal of indoctrination, the aim becomes informing children and nurturing respect for people who have different beliefs.”
Thornton claimed that beliefs found in Christianity aren’t unique to it and can be found elsewhere, writing, “In other words, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That’s the golden rule, which can be found in nearly every religious and ethical tradition.”
He then concluded his piece with a dig at the justice and his role in overturning Roe V. Wade, writing, “So Justice Alito, you don’t have to worry about children growing up without a religion assigned by their parents. But I wish I could say that my children don’t have to worry about you and the Supreme Court diminishing our religious liberty — which includes their right to be free from your religion.”