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 Politics of Sanctimony

George W. Bush and God Himself are on notice: "The Democratic Party is going to take back God this time," Gore operative Elaine Kamarck announced a few months ago as the vice president made his play for the Almighty. He declared his disdain for "hollow secularism," his support for state funding of sectarian social service programs, and his conviction that "the purpose of life is to glorify God." "I don't wear it on my sleeve," Gore said of his religious faith, but "faith is the center of my life." Faith is surely at the center of the 2000 campaign, as many commentators have observed, although it is probably a lack of faith in the intelligence of the American people that inspires educated candidates like Gore, Bush, Steve Forbes, and Elizabeth Dole to waffle on evolution. (Fearful of offending the ignorant, all responded sympathetically to recent efforts by the Kansas Board of Education to purge the science curriculum of evolution.) Meanwhile, a lack of faith in the morality of the...

God's Word

When Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura dismissed religion as a "sham" and a crutch for weak-minded people, the pundits pounced. Ridiculing Ventura, commentators like E.J. Dionne hastened to praise religious belief and the strong-minded leaders it produced, like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. The governor's approval ratings declined; he repented and vowed to behave: "I'm not going to offer my personal opinions on anything," Ventura groused. Does anyone still believe that media elites are hostile to religion? Ventura's categorical dismissal of religious people (the vast majority of Americans) was refreshing precisely because it violated norms of religious correctness, even though it was rather facile. Of course, there are intelligent strong-minded people who believe in God; that's what makes religious belief interesting. But defenders of religion routinely make equally thoughtless generalizations about the unmitigated virtues of belief and the...

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...

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...

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