Lots of people are blogging a story about a Jewish family who was driven out of their homes in Delaware for fear of the escalating retailiation being directed against them; they had, with the ACLU’s help, brought a suit against the local school district objecting to the degree of Christian proselytizing going on in the local schools,and in response had their home address publicized and were being harassed. Bitch PhD makes an excellent post about having been hesitant to blog it, because liberal outrage about a story like this would just feed the image of liberals as hostile to religion, and then being ashamed of (and obviously, overcoming) her reluctance to blog about injustice for fear it might make her look bad.
This is exactly why it is so important not to concede, even implicitly, that liberal positions on the separation of church and state reflect a general hostility to religion. They don’t at all; lots of the strongest advocates for separation of church and state are themselves religious. They reflect a hostility to people doing or advocating things we strongly disapprove of, like co-opting the power of the state to proselytize for a particular sect, in the service of their religious beliefs, and to the widespread attitude that religious motivations for policy are worthy of more deference and respect than secular motivations. The hostility isn’t, at all (barring the odd enthusiast like PZ Myers, who I feel no need to apologize in light of much more widespread hostility to atheists among religious people), to religion — it’s to a particular set of objectionable policies that particular groups of religious people engage in. If we argue these points from the assumption that liberals are hostile to religion generally, we lose, because the vast majority of the US is religious, and we lose on false, stupid grounds, because most liberals are also religious and aren’t hostile to religion at all.