It's pleasant to imagine that David Brooks's newest column is just what it seems to be on the surface -- a conservative's call for moderation in religious matters. But then you notice that he demonizes opponents as "militant secularists," insists that it's almost categorically impossible for statesmen to make crucial choices without prayer ("epochal decisions are rarely made in a secular frame of mind"), and takes a cheap shot at the ACLU.
This suggests that he still aligns himself with America's religious zealots, and against their enemies. He merely frets about the zealots' methods and tactics, "about the perfectionism that often infects evangelical politics, the rush to crash through procedural checks and balances in order to reach the point of maximum moral correctness."
I'd say Brooks is an enabler. He's the non-abusive spouse in a household where the other spouse is beating the kids. He won't participate -- but he won't turn against the abuser, either. He just wants the abuser to keep it down.
It's swell that he comes out at the end of the column in favor of retaining the filibuster. But it's not because he's truly grasped how far religious conservatives would like to go in remaking this country. Rather, it's because he shares their hope for a national religious revival that will sweep all the secular yuppies before it -- and he's afraid that if the evangelicals don't stop shouting, someone will phone the cops, and that great day will never come.