The Christian Imperative of Political Decentralization

Prudence and reinvigorated federalism

In the February 2022 issue of First Things magazine, Aaron Renn’s article, “The Three Worlds of Evangelicalism,” described a gradual change in the way mainstream American culture has viewed Christianity between the 1960s and the present. Although Christianity as measured by church membership and church attendance was already in decline in the 1960s from the high water mark a decade earlier, mainstream culture retained a positive view of the faith into the 1990s, a period Renn calls the “positive world.” Having the reputation of being a faithful Christian was a net asset in society. From the mid-1990s until about 2014, Renn describes a “neutral world” in which adherence to the Christian faith was seen by mainstream society as a lifestyle choice with no real impact on one’s social standing. Since about 2014, though, mainstream culture has come to view Christianity negatively and even as a threat to society’s moral order; we are now in the “negative world.” Faced with a new, hostile environment, the church, argued Renn, needs to update its strategies for evangelism and cultural engagement.

Although Renn’s thesis was dismissed by some observers, it resonated with many orthodox Christians, not only within the evangelical camp but also among Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. The piece became First Things’ most popular article of 2022 and continues to drive discussion within the church, as leaders and congregants debate how church life and evangelism should adjust to the negative world.

Renn’s negative world also forms the backdrop of discussions about the direction and purpose of Christian political engagement in the 21st century in America. In his recent books, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self and Strange New World, Grove City College’s Carl Trueman has shown how the philosophy of expressive individualism has become enshrined in various levels of law and culture. Expressive individualism grants authority to inner feelings and demands that society “recognize” by approbation the identity that those feelings create. This demand clashes with the orthodox Christian position that one’s inner feelings might be sinful and out of alignment with the objective, external ethical standard represented by the church’s teaching.

In recent years, the conflict has been most visible in the arena of sexuality. Foremost among the authoritative feelings acknowledged by expressive individualism is sexual desire. Christian disapproval of, for example, homosexual conduct or transgender persons’ attempts to transition to the opposite sex is no longer interpreted by mainstream culture as an objection to particular acts, but as a rejection of fundamental identity, tantamount to the denying of one’s right to exist. The historic Christian teaching on sexuality is thus seen as a threat to the new public moral order in the way Renn describes. Adherents to that teaching now run the risk of negative social sanctions and even legal action, as the high-profile cases of cake baker Jack Phillips and florist Baronelle Stutzman illustrate. Trueman insists, however, that the problem for Christians is not limited to bakers and florists who might be pressured to endorse same-sex marriage in their occupations. By rejecting the sexual binary altogether, “trans ideology” is in the process of invading all public spaces and attempting to reshape notions of privacy, safety, decorum, modesty, and even the relationships between parents and their children.

We can conclude, then, that an obvious objective for Christian politics in the coming years is to check or even reverse the process by which expressive individualism has gradually supplanted the traditional understanding of the self and of social relationships in the law with a new understanding that is incompatible with orthodox Christianity. This effort will be a massive, long-term project because the most radical manifestations of expressive individualism now threatening us are merely the culmination of intellectual trends, such as the gradual abandoning of natural law, that began centuries ago both within the church and in the broader society. Reversing those trends will require significant efforts in education and evangelism.

A separate but related problem for the church is that the state has supplanted it as the central institution in society. This supplanting is, once again, the result of a centuries-long process, one familiar to many students of Western history. We can still say, in America at least, that the church remains the linchpin of civil society, as Robert Putnam (Bowling Alone) and Tim Carney (Alienated America) have argued. Nevertheless, the state has crowded out many of its traditional functions over the past two centuries, most obviously in the areas of healthcare, poverty relief, and education. As the church has lost these social and cultural functions, more and more people have come to see it as inessential or even irrelevant.

Any healthy strategy for Christian political engagement must take into account these realities and develop prudent tactics for shoring up the church’s diminished influence in society while creating the conditions conducive to renewed efforts to redeem the culture. My thesis is that in the 21st-century American context, such a strategy has the greatest potential for success in an environment of political decentralization and that Christians should thus work to devolve political authority from the federal government to states and localities where possible.

American Political Centralization and the Church, 1865–2000

In arguing for political decentralization, I am of course advocating for a recovery of America’s original understanding of federalism and local self-government. Although the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 had produced a constitution for the United States that concentrated political power in the central government to a greater extent than had hitherto existed, and although figures like Alexander Hamilton hoped for continuing centralization of power on the model of European “state-builders,” Thomas Jefferson’s election as president, the “Revolution of 1800,” ushered in an era of federal restraint that preserved the decentralized nature of the American union for two generations.1 During this era, except in wartime, most Americans had contact with the federal government only through the post office.

This was a period in which civil society flourished. Alexis de Tocqueville famously commented in the 1830s on the proliferation of voluntary associations of every kind at the local level. Of course, the most important institution of civil society in this period was the church, and Tocqueville writes of Christianity as ruling “without obstacles, with the consent of all,” even among those who were not members of any church or who did not believe Christian dogma. The boundaries of behavior established by Christian mores provided the stability that helped to guide political deliberation, as Protestants and Catholics shared a common social ethic.

The Civil War permanently altered the balance of power between the federal government and the states. The Confederate states were placed under martial law and occupied by federal troops during Reconstruction. The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the passage of which was attended by serious irregularities, placed significant restrictions on state governments that would be enforced by the federal government, a situation never contemplated by the Founders.

The period after 1865 also began the growth of the federal regulatory state and increasingly centralized management of the American economy. The Republican Party dominated Congress and the presidency for several decades after 1865, and it had inherited the Whig Party’s penchant for high tariffs and greater interventions into the economy. Moreover, large-scale enterprises such as railroads preferred a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme from the federal government to the patchwork of regulations implemented by the several states. This alignment of political and corporate power led to the creation of regulatory agencies such as the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Federal Reserve System during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Political centralization continued throughout the 20th century. As economic historian Robert Higgs has demonstrated in works such as Crisis and Leviathan, successive crises such as World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Vietnam War led to a federal “ratchet effect.” Federal spending and consolidation of power would increase greatly during a crisis. When the crisis receded, a period of retrenchment followed, and federal power and spending would decline, but they never returned to pre-crisis levels. Instead, they settled at a higher “equilibrium” that would persist until the next crisis, when they would again soar to new heights.

Spending grew on both military and social programs as the federal government reached into more and more areas of public and private life. Federal spending as a share of the American economy was around 2 percent in the years before World War I. Just prior to U.S. entry into World War II, that number was 10.5 percent. By the early 21st century, the normal range of federal spending as a share of the economy was 20–25 percent in any given year.

Ramifications for the Church

The dangers of political centralization for the church manifested themselves only slightly before the 21st century, or at least they were not evident from the perspective of most Protestant denominations. One Protestant theologian who did fear the ramifications of the era’s centralization for the church was the Presbyterian Robert Louis Dabney (1820–1898), who protested the federally imposed requirement that the former Confederate states create a system of public schools to be readmitted to the Union during Reconstruction. In a posthumously published essay titled “On Secular Education,” Dabney warned that state control of the education of the young would ultimately undermine both the family and the church and that eventually prayer, catechisms, and the Bible would be eliminated from the public schools. For the purposes of this discussion, Dabney’s essay is significant because it was written in the context of decisions about education being taken out of the hands of state governments to a degree.

Dabney was in the minority among Protestants; the mainline denominations on the whole were sanguine about political centralization in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This was the period when the white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASP) establishment centered in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia became a governing class for the entire nation following the destruction of the Southern planters’ political power in the 1860s. In other words, America’s upper class became culturally and socially centralized in a way it had not been prior to 1865. The WASP establishment’s families joined the same country clubs, vacationed in the same resorts, sent their children to the same boarding schools, and intermarried. Significantly, they also excluded non-Protestants, specifically Roman Catholics and Jews, from their social orbit.2

The point is that America’s political centralization following 1865 was paralleled by the establishment’s social centralization and that this process entrenched a specifically Protestant leadership class that dominated American politics through the middle of the 20th century. We might say that America’s public (though not established) religion from Reconstruction up until the election of John F. Kennedy was the form of liberal Protestantism embraced by the establishment. For the most part, the mainline denominations and their clergy promoted progressive and internationalist policies throughout the period: a federal income tax, U.S. entry into World War I, Prohibition, the New Deal, and on through the creation of the United Nations and the National Council of Churches following World War II. Not coincidentally, these policies usually necessitated the further centralization of political power in the federal government, to say nothing of international organizations. The architects of the postwar international order, such as John Foster Dulles, often made statements to the effect that their faith commitments informed and inspired their efforts in public life.

This can-do liberalism reached its high water mark in the late 1950s and early 1960s. By that time, however, the WASP establishment had come under increasing pressure, both from within and without, to make room for Catholics, Jews, and blacks, and the character of America’s political elite began an irreversible transformation. This is not the place to trace that process, but the parallel stories of the gradual secularizing of the elite class and the demographic decline of the Protestant mainline are well known.

Current Dangers to the Church Posed by the Centralized State

So long as America was governed by a self-consciously Protestant elite, the degree of political centralization in the country was not an urgent matter for most Protestants, for the establishment would not countenance any obvious public threats to most manifestations of the Protestant faith, broadly conceived. This upholding of the Protestant faith as the de facto public religion was as true in the political sphere as it was in the social and economic spheres. From John D. Rockefeller’s weekly teaching of a Bible class at his Baptist church to Harry Truman’s request for prayers from members of the press corps upon receiving news of Franklin Roosevelt’s death to Dwight Eisenhower’s public embrace of Billy Graham, America’s political and economic elites displayed an intimate familiarity with and endorsement of Protestant religion, and they appealed to it publicly as well. (Protestant domination of the public square, of course, had been true since the founding of the English colonies, but that dominance had denominational distinctives that varied from colony to colony or from state to state. What I mean to emphasize here is the congealing of a centralized establishment favoring a liberal form of the Protestant faith after 1865.)

By the early 21st century, America’s elite struck a different posture toward Christianity. The hostility toward religion among the molders of elite opinion discussed by William F. Buckley in God and Man at Yale (1951) seemed to have borne much fruit over two generations. During the presidency of George W. Bush, it became increasingly common to hear public criticisms of the Christian faith by “New Atheists” and others. Then, during the Obama presidency, the “Great Awokening” and the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision helped reposition historic Christian orthodoxy as retrograde and harmful in the view of large segments of the American elite, leading to such incidents as a threatened corporate boycott of Indiana during the state’s consideration of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015. All these developments occurred while basic religious literacy as measured by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has declined.

The elite turn against Christianity in the context of political centralization is not yet an existential threat to the American church. Many members of Congress are still devout believers and can presumably be relied upon to thwart any potential legislation prejudicial to the church.  (The codification by Congress of the Obergefell decision in the Respect for Marriage Act in December 2022 has occasioned debate as to whether it contains a sufficiently broad accommodation for religious believers, but I leave that to one side.) Moreover, the Supreme Court has upheld a broad interpretation of the First Amendment’s free exercise clause in several recent decisions.

Nevertheless, America’s political centralization provides opportunities for a hostile elite to harm the church. This harm is most likely to come from the federal bureaucracy. Washington insiders often claim that “personnel is policy,” and in recent years the public has become increasingly aware that career bureaucrats can use the discretionary authority of their positions in harmful ways. They might abuse their authority to harm disfavored people or groups among the public. They can also undermine the policy choices of the elected officials they ostensibly serve in favor of their own objectives. As our nationally centralized political class that staffs the federal bureaucracy becomes more alienated from Christianity, we should expect to see a greater insensitivity and even hostility to religious considerations in the formulation and implementation of policy by administrative agencies. This danger might manifest in many places: prejudicial tax treatment of churches, the Department of Education’s promotion of curricula at odds with Christian teaching, or an initiative by the Department of Justice against “Christian nationalists” are easily imaginable given current trends.

Yet Federalism Survives

The COVID-19 pandemic provided an unexpected illustration of how American federalism still performs a vital function in our constitutional system. Whereas most developed countries around the world imposed top-down, one-size-fits-all lockdown regimes on the basis of computer models purporting to predict the spread of the virus, the Trump and Biden administrations recognized, if reluctantly, certain limits to the federal government’s authority in the area of public health. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance and recommendations, but for the most part decisions about emergency mitigation measures fell to the governors of the 50 states. After the initial rhetoric of “fifteen days to flatten the curve” had given way to calls for longer and longer periods of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as masks and social distancing, different states quickly began experimenting with different policies that reflected competing assessments of the appropriate tradeoffs among the anticipated disease mitigation, economic vitality, the population’s mental health, and numerous other factors.

This diversity among state policies became more striking over time. Some states prohibited in-person instruction in public schools whereas others continued such instruction with various levels of on-site mitigation efforts. After the initial vaccines were made available to the public, some states instituted various types of “vaccine passports” whereas others made a point of advertising that they would not impose any such requirements. Even within states, there was often variation in COVID-19 protocol, as local governments might impose policies more stringent than the baseline mandated by their state government. The variations in COVID-19 policies were so significant that they became a factor in Americans’ internal migration, as people gravitated towards states and localities with policies that reflected their own risk assessments and preferences. Moreover, the different outcomes (death rates, business health, etc.) in states with different policies provided observers with critical data that have been used to assess the effectiveness of mitigation policies. In the end, the lack of dramatic differences in outcomes between states with very stringent policies versus those with relaxed policies led more and more officials to conclude that the benefits of the stringent policies did not justify their costs.3 Without federalism, what would a national COVID policy have looked like? A strong argument can be made, given the statements coming from the nationally centralized political class at the time, that the restrictions would have been more thoroughgoing and longer lasting without due consideration for their economic and social costs.

The Church Must Seek Political Decentralization

It is past time for American Christians to see the dangers of political centralization clearly and to relearn the church’s long standing opposition to it. Having done so, they can capitalize on many opportunities within our existing federal system to devolve power and engage in politics at the state and local levels in prudential and constructive ways.

It is worth noting that modern political centralization in its inception was at odds with historic Christian teaching. Political philosophers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries like Jean Bodin and Thomas Hobbes appropriated the term “sovereignty,” previously reserved for descriptions of God’s authority, and applied it to the human political order. Whereas Christians of earlier centuries acknowledged overlapping and competing political jurisdictions of the monarch, aristocracy, church, “free cities,” guilds, and other entities, early modern political philosophy, by and large, became fixated on the alleged sovereignty of the state, which trumped the authority of all other social institutions. Early theorists of sovereignty like Bodin acknowledged that natural law and divine law limited the authority of the human sovereign, but by the 20th century, most political thinkers had jettisoned these constraints, although they retained the notion of individual rights in various forms. The logic of the theory of undivided sovereignty led irresistibly to gradual political centralization in the Western world for 500 years.

Both the Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions of social teaching have developed critiques of excessive political centralization in response to the dramatic economic and political developments of the 19th and 20th centuries. Part 3 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church stresses the necessity of subsidiarity, “according to which ‘a community of higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.’” The principle of subsidiarity rejects “all forms of collectivism” and “sets limits for state intervention.”

Protestant social teaching has emphasized checks on centralized authority ever since John Calvin articulated the doctrine of the “lesser magistrates” in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. In the modern era, probably the most influential Protestant articulation of the decentralist impulse is found in the writings of Abraham Kuyper. Kuyper rejects outright the Hobbesian state’s claims to plenary sovereignty, arguing instead that Christians must uphold the principle of “Sphere Sovereignty” as against “State Sovereignty.” The domestic, the scientific, the social, and the ecclesiastical spheres of life each operate according to their own principles and must be permitted to function without interference from the other spheres. The state might be above the other spheres in a certain sense, but “it does not obtain within any of these spheres. There another authority rules, an authority which, without any effort of its own, descends from God, and which [the state] does not confer but acknowledge.” Kuyper’s meaning is that the authority of the state, which is based on physical coercion, is not suited to settle disputes within, for example, the domain of conscience, where only God’s authority can rule. In concrete terms, Kuyper and his followers developed a social theory wherein the family, the church, and possibly other institutions enjoyed autonomy to adjudicate issues peculiar to them.

Whatever the precise articulation of the theoretical resistance to Hobbesian sovereignty, American Christians and churches should make decentralization a key goal of their political engagement. Some are calling for a Christian “takeover” of the centralized system. Among these are the so-called “integralists,” whose leading figure is Harvard law professor Adrian Vermeule. His Common Good Constitutionalism calls for a federal state explicitly ordered toward Christian ends and staffed by a Christian bureaucracy. Whatever the philosophical merits of this program, there is little to no practical hope of its gaining traction in the foreseeable future (in either its Catholic or Protestant formulations) given the current political and religious landscape. My argument here is that decentralization affords the church the most flexibility in addressing pressing needs under current conditions.

Practically speaking, the church in America finds itself in different situations in different parts of the country. In some states and localities, it enjoys friendly relations with elected officials and significant public influence. Church leaders in these areas can often sway public debate on proposed legislation and other public affairs. They have the opportunity and obligation to help create or preserve a broad social environment conducive to Christian living and evangelism.

This strategy logically has “defensive” and “offensive” elements. “Defensively,” Christians should work with friendly state and local officials to block or reduce the impact on the church of harmful policies originating in higher levels of government. This strategy of “interposition” fell into disrepute when Jim Crow states used it for racialist purposes during the Civil Rights Era, but it is a key idea of classical Protestant political thought that has been used to great effect over the centuries to protect the church against encroachment from higher political authorities, and it is high time for it to be restored to the Christian political toolbox. (A salient counterexample to Jim Crow interposition is when Wisconsin declared the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 unconstitutional and refused to let it be enforced within its borders.)

“Offensively,” Christians should work in friendly jurisdictions towards the church’s reclamation of its historic social functions from the state. Throughout its history, the church’s sacrificial provision of education, poor relief, and health care to society at large, to say nothing of its adoption of abandoned children, has been one of its most powerful evangelistic strategies. Obviously, the church is still involved in all these efforts, but Americans have increasingly come to see the state as the primary provider of these services. A long-term goal for Christian politics should be to restore the vision of society in which everyone comes to the church for aid, learning, and healing. The precise form this ought to take and the extent to which the church should cooperate with the state in these areas is a topic for debate, but models are already emerging in some jurisdictions, such as state-level school choice programs in West Virginia and Arizona, in which Christian schools are eligible to participate.

By contrast, in other states and localities, the church finds itself in an overtly hostile environment, confronting protesters angry over the overturning of Roe v. Wade or facing local officials who wish to use zoning ordinances or other political means to hamper its ordinary activities. In these areas where the “negative world” is more immediately apparent, church leaders must still work to create a social environment conducive to Christian living, but that environment might of necessity look more like one of Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option” communities that provides a greater degree of insulation from the local social and political climate for its members’ daily life and the rearing of their children. Leaders will need to prioritize the guarding of their flock while also looking for opportunities to evangelize the local area in a prudential way. In these areas, the church’s provision of services might be limited to its own members.

Christian leaders facing the “negative world” on the local level might question the wisdom of a strategy of political decentralization. They might plausibly argue that the more power devolves to hostile government officials in their immediate area, the more difficulties the church will face where they live. The answer to that objection is threefold. First, Christians everywhere in America retain the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion, and avenues for defending this freedom in federal courts will remain. Second, a hostile local bureaucracy is easier to “convert” than a hostile federal bureaucracy. Employees of the latter may not know any Christians personally and are likely to form their impressions of Christianity from caricatures provided by the corporate press or social media. Church leaders have greater scope for personal contact and influence on employees of local governments and can hopefully persuade them that the church is a good neighbor and an asset to the community. Third, jurisdictional competition among states and localities can have the same benefits for the church as it did for Americans seeking to avoid lockdowns during COVID-19. If local repression of the church becomes intolerable, sufficiently committed Christians or even entire congregations could relocate to more congenial jurisdictions, such as from an urban core to an adjoining suburb. This action presumably would be a last resort, and if the church has been demonstrating its value to a community in other ways, rational officials will be hesitant to give it many incentives to relocate. This opportunity to “vote with one’s feet” is a key benefit of decentralized political orders and ideally will influence hostile local jurisdictions to moderate their repressive instincts.

Tactics to Bring About Political Decentralization

The purpose of this essay is to argue that the church needs political decentralization in 21st-century America, not to lay out the precise strategy for bringing decentralization about. However, in order to forestall the possible objection that no feasible mechanisms exist to revive federalism and local self-government, I will simply note that a significant amount of policy work has been done in this area and that several states have already moved to reclaim greater autonomy within the current legal and constitutional framework.

One strategy that admittedly requires more restraint and discipline than is typical in state capitals is to refuse various types of federal funding that come with numerous strings attached. The federal government controls much of the nation’s transportation investments indirectly by providing grants to local and state governments both for new construction and for ongoing maintenance of highways and other infrastructure. Local law enforcement agencies around the country receive grants, military-grade equipment, and training from federal agencies, contributing to what has been described by observers from across the political spectrum as the militarization of the nation’s police. The Department of Education provides a relatively small percentage of local school districts’ budgets in the form of grants and exercises an outsized influence on public education as a result. If state and local policymakers have the discipline to refuse these funds, they can reclaim more control of their operations in several policy areas.

The federal government frequently relies on the cooperation of state and local governments to enforce various federal laws and regulations, such as those pursuant to the War on Drugs. Federal agencies such as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, for example, simply do not employ enough agents to carry out their objectives on their own, so they work closely with state and local officials in most cases. However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s long standing “anti-commandeering doctrine” under the Tenth Amendment prohibits the federal government from requiring states to use their resources to pursue federal objectives. States are well within their rights to prohibit their personnel and resources from being used to further federal policies with which they disagree, and some have considered or passed legislation for such purpose in such areas as drugs and gun rights. Significantly, both “red” and “blue” states have explored these possibilities.

Finally, the current makeup of the federal judiciary has created a propitious environment for states to attempt to restore a greater degree of federalism through court challenges to federal mandates. The overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022 is a dramatic example of an important policy area being restored to the states after nearly half a century of federal control, but there is no reason to think that other significant decisions could not be devolved to lower levels of government as well. Lawsuits by states against the federal government have increased in recent years, challenging rules from various administrative agencies on numerous subjects: environmental regulation, immigration, labor rules, and more. The Supreme Court’s “Chevron doctrine,” according to which courts give broad deference to administrative agencies to interpret their own rule-making authority granted by ambiguous Congressional statutes, seems to be falling out of favor. In 2022, Justice Neal Gorsuch noted that “courts rarely rely upon it” and argued that “the whole project deserves a tombstone no one can miss.”4 It is entirely possible that the Chevron doctrine could be explicitly repudiated in the near future and that the states’ hand would be further strengthened in conflicts with the administrative state. 


I have attempted to sketch a strategy for Christian political engagement that does not focus on national, highly polarizing “hot button” issues that break down along partisan lines. Political decentralization is a project that American Christians of all political parties can pursue as they seek the best way to engage society and culture for Christ in their local areas. To be sure, it is simply one component of several that must be implemented if we are to operate successfully in the “negative world,” but it offers perhaps the best potential for shoring up the church’s influence in regions where it still enjoys it, while laying the groundwork for re-evangelization of the rest of the country.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Journal of Christian Studies.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Show 4 footnotes
  1. Two recent works examining the decentralized polity of the early Republic are L. Marco Bassani, Chaining Down Leviathan: The American Dream of Self-Government, 1776–1865 (Auburn: Abbeville Institute Press, 2021); and Kevin R. C. Gutzman, The Jeffersonians: The Visionary Presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2022).
  2. The most important scholar of the WASP establishment (and the coiner of the term “WASP”) was University of Pennsylvania professor E. Digby Baltzell (1915–1996), the author of Philadelphia Gentlemen (1958), The Protestant Establishment (1964), and Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia (1979). See Aaron Renn’s recent essay on Baltzell for more information.
  3. Cf. Ian Miller, Unmasked: The Global Failure of COVID Mask Mandates (New York: Post Hill Press, 2022). See also Paul Elias Alexander, “More Than 170 Comparative Studies and Articles on Mask Ineffectiveness and Harms,” Brownstone Institute, December 20, 2021,
  4. Neil Gorsuch, Buffington v. McDonough dissent, 15–16, at
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Jason Jewell

Jason Jewell is a professor of humanities at Faulkner University, where he directs the Center for Great Books and Human Flourishing, and a Fellow of the American Studies Institute at Harding University.