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 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...

Faith-Based Favoritism

I'm not gracious enough to resist saying, "I told you so," when I see rival religious groups fighting over federal funds. Only a few weeks after President George W. Bush announced a federal initiative to fund sectarian religious organizations, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was reportedly pressuring the administration--with some success--not to underwrite the Nation of Islam. According to The New York Times, ADL representatives left a meeting with John J. DiIulio, Jr., director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, "reassured that the president would not allow financing for the Nation of Islam's programs." The ADL, an organization devoted to opposing discrimination against Jews, might have spared itself the embarrassment of lobbying in favor of discrimination against Muslims. Bush made clear his aversion to the Nation of Islam during the 2000 election campaign: "I don't see how we can allow public dollars to fund programs where spite and hate is the core of the...

The A.G. Is Their Shepherd

When Attorney General John Ashcroft began conducting daily prayer sessions with Justice Department employees, he confirmed the hopes of religious conservatives and the fears of secularists: The new Republican regime would make government more godly. Ashcroft has loudly lamented the separation of church and state and has advocated government funding for religious groups, as well as the reintroduction of official prayer into public schools. Now he's organizing prayer in the public workplace. According to a May 14 report in The Washington Post, Ashcroft and a group of employees meet at 8:00 a.m. in his personal office or a conference room to pray and study scripture. Ashcroft's daily devotionals are said to be ecumenical, despite periodic references to Jesus, and they are open to all employees. (His supporters boast that one regular attendee is an Orthodox Jew.) No one is required to attend; but according to the Post , some Justice Department employees are uneasy about the prayer...

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 Peter Beinart), reporters and commentators haven't covered or even...