In his engaging and admirable book, Bad Religion, Ross Douthat mentions me in an aside, and in that particular citation, he touches on a few things that need to be addressed at the very outset of any argument for a “mere Christendom.” They can be grouped under the heading of proposals that no one should be making and, if they are, they should stop it. But at the same time the boys down in the secularist ministry of propaganda are dead set to make sure that any proposals that recognize that secularism is turning out to be pretty lame get accused of these things. In other words, Douthat is quite right that we shouldn’t be doing the things we will invariably be accused of doing—provided we are doing something appropriate instead.
Certain things sound pretty scary, and theocracy is one of them. Douthat says that at times I have flirted with theocratic sentiments. It would be closer to the mark to say that—provided the necessary qualifications are made—I have been a full-throated advocate of theocracy. I am unalterably opposed to “theocracy,” or any form of government contained with scare quotes. As will be argued at length later, all societies are theocratic, and the only thing that distinguishes them is which God they serve. I want a theocratic society that maximizes human liberty, including liberty of conscience, and since this is a good thing, this means that we have to worship the God who gives all good things, the true and living God.
The second thing that concerns Douthat is the trap of separatism—a move which results in “paranoia, crankishness, and all the other pathologies of the religious ghetto.” When the world gets too big and bad, the temptation for believing Christians is to withdraw to their ghettoes, compounds, and monasteries. This can happen two ways. The first is the move of the principled separatists, such as the Anabaptists pursuing a parallel culture to the “decadent American imperium.” Douthat mentions Hauerwas as an example of this, not to mention the more radical separatists among the Amish and Mennonites. But he also cautions the “neo-Calvinist homeschoolers” in this same regard, and it is a caution worth hearing. The original idea was “don’t retreat, reload,” but sometimes the temporary calm afforded by reloading can turn into a de facto retreat. Kuyperian efforts to regroup really need to take care to not turn into something else.
And last, Douthat mentions my doughty claim to be a “paleo-Confederate.” This was actually in the context of rebuffing the accusation that I was a neo-Confederate, yearning for a do-over at Gettysburg. But I would actually want to identify with men like T.S. Eliot or Eugene Genovese on this topic, and not the last three Grand Kleagle Wizards. I am so far out of touch with that world that I am not even sure how to spell Kleagle. But any person who proposes we go in a completely different direction than secularism urges needs to be ready for this part of it—the slanders will come and some of those charges will appear to stick. That is part of the cost of doing business. In our day, there is absolutely no way to argue for any form of Christendom whatever without having to answer for the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, the slave trade, and numerous other icky things. But by “answer for,” I do not mean that we should argue that such things were the bright sunbeams of history, lighting up our path along the way—although that will be what we are accused of doing. All you have to do is put any of those atrocities in some sort of context and you will be accused of being a strident defender of them. The atrocities of Christendom (which have been grievous when compared to the holy law of God) still pale in comparison to the great pyramid of skulls that the secularists have constructed for us.
Understandably, they don’t like having that pointed out, and have managed to make the tu quoque fallacy their ultimate defense.
 Ross Douthat, Bad Religion (New York: Free Press, 2012), p. 281.