Religious Freedom After the Sexula Revolution: A Catholic Guide
Helen M. Alvaré
(Catholic University of America Press, $32.95, 243 pages):

Helen M. Alvaré, the Robert A. Levy Chair in Law and Liberty at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, has written a primer, Religious Freedom After the Sexual Revolution, on how to think about a genuine freedom (freedom of religion) in an age that prioritizes a faux freedom (a virtually unlimited right to sex). The scripturally based sexual morality of evangelical and Catholic teaching poses (at least) a constant annoyance to sexual licentiousness, and increasingly Americans (and others) are experiencing a government clamp down on the religious rights of orthodox Christians (and Jews and Muslims) in order to protect every advance of the Sexual Revolution, from birth control and abortion to same-sex “marriage” and the transgender craze. Alvaré divides her useful primer into three sections: the religious nature of Catholic institutions, the difficult milieu in which they operate today as a countercultural force, and the specific backlash to religious identity and expression in the U.S. today. The fact that Catholic institutions are entwined in health care, employment, housing, insurance, and social services, means that there are plenty of opportunities for clashes between individuals (and the state acting on their behalf) and the Church, “one of the last pockets of resistance to the new norms.” Alvaré is correct to note that the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion is not enough to protect Catholic (or other religious) institutions that run afoul of official orthodoxy in the U.S., although she ably rehearses the legal cases that provide a structure in which religious institutions can plead their case. She boldly calls on all people of faith to wistfully but forcefully “preserve individual and community well-being in the realms of sex, marriage, and parenting,” by presenting a Christian human anthropology (the complementarity of the sexes, for example, and the centrality of children to marriage) and insists that Christians model the ideals they profess. Alvaré states that for Christians, “it appears we are being asked to reprise the role we played at the beginnings of Christianity: that of an unmistakably countercultural force revealing the nature of human live in the arena of sexual expression as God designed it.”