Wendy Kaminer

Wendy Kaminer is a former senior correspondent for The American Prospect and a contributing editor at The Atlantic Monthly. She also serves on the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union.

A lawyer, social critic, and former Guggenheim Fellow, she writes about law, liberty, feminism, religion, and popular culture. Her latest book is Free for All: Defending Liberty in America Today. Other books she has written include Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety; True Love Waits: Essays and Criticism; It's All the Rage: Crime and Culture; I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions; and A Fearful Freedom: Women's Flight from Equality. Kaminer's articles and reviews have appeared in many other publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and Newsweek, and her commentaries have aired on National Public Radio.

Before embarking on her writing career, Kaminer practiced law as a staff attorney in the New York Legal Aid Society and the New York City Mayor's Office.

Wendy Kaminer retains copyrights to all her articles.

Recent Articles

The Spiritual is Political

C onfronted with low voter participation rates and high levels of ignorance about politics and policy, many of us regularly bemoan the apparently apathetic American electorate. But we're mostly concerned with the apathy of people whom we imagine as potential political allies. When right-wing Christians made a dramatic entrance onto the political stage some 20 years ago, through organizations like the Moral Majority, they weren't exactly welcomed by liberals and lauded as exemplars of good citizenship. I wouldn't lament low voter turnout if all right-wing, antilibertarian Republicans (and Democrats) stayed home on election day, and I imagine they'd be similarly sanguine about a display of voter apathy from me. So I'm not sure whether to welcome or worry about an emerging campaign to politicize what New Age guru Marianne Williamson calls the consciousness community--an eclectic group of seekers including the...

Unholy Alliance

"Faith-based activism" is very much in vogue, and some church-run programs may be effective at alleviating urban ills. But funding these programs with government money raises troubling constitutional issues. Is there a reasonable middle ground? See " Can the Churches Save the Cities? Faith-Based Services and the Constitution," by Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore. I t is easier to believe that God is in heaven and all's right with the world than it is to imagine an irreverent politician questioning whether there is a God in heaven or any benefit to prayer. Even political theorists and commentators, right and left, are apt to shrink from criticizing religious belief or religious communities. Etiquette demands respect for piety and the presumed virtues of faith, and most people believe in God anyway. So it is hardly surprising that religion is being touted as the antidote to crime, drug use, and teenage pregnancy, although proof of religion's particular utility in treating or...

The Joy of Sects

N ow that the election has finally ended, politicians may be less preoccupied with declaring their allegiance to God, but efforts to involve Him in public policy show no sign of abating. Most Republicans and many Democrats have enthusiastically advocated federally funded, sectarian social service programs, which were promoted initially by the religious right. George W. has even proposed establishing a new federal "Office of Faith-Based Action" (in other words, an Office of Sectarian Initiatives). Exploiting the widespread belief that godliness is essential to virtue and the assumption that religious faith helps cure chronic welfare dependency, drug abuse, and other social ills, "charitable choice" programs have managed to make direct government aid to religious sects seem as American as football prayer. What politician wants to oppose either charity or choice, much less a "faith-based" program? Charitable choice was introduced in 1995 by the ultraconservative John Ashcroft, the former...

Our Very Own Taliban

Jerry Falwell knows who caused the terrorist attack on America: the ACLU. "The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this," he declared on the 700 Club, because, he explained, the ACLU, abetted by the federal courts is responsible for "throwing God out of the public square (and) the public schools." This is a familiar charge and a false one. God is still present in the public schools, where students are free to pray, alone or in groups, so long as their prayers aren't officially sponsored and don't infringe on anyone's freedom not to pray. After school, God is still present in the public square. Visit Boston next December and you're likely to see a creche in the Boston Common, just a few blocks from the office of the Massachusetts ACLU. The Common is a public park, open to all points of view, and the creche is maintained by private funds. Civil libertarians don't oppose God's presence in the public square, so long as it's not sponsored by government and doesn't reflect preferential...

Delinquent Justice

@body no indent=[S"body","body","body"] hortly after the recent killing of six-year-old Kayla Rolland by her six-year-old classmate in a Michigan public school, President Clinton exhorted Congress to pass gun control measures that have been stalled in committee for the past eight months. Then he met with Kayla Rolland's mother. It was a familiar political moment, and putting aside the horror of children shooting children, the casual liberal observer must have been pleased: The president was defying the NRA and standing up for the safety of kids. Or so it seemed. You wouldn't know it from watching the news or reading The New York Times , but new gun control measures championed by the president and liberal Democrats in Congress are attached to a repressive juvenile justice bill that right-wing law-and-order zealots have been trying to enact for the past several years. With few exceptions (notably New Republic editor...

Pages