And when the connective tissues of an organic society are removed, all that is left is the bone of abstract principle. For conservatives, that mostly means invoking the Constitution — which is rightly silent on how people should live. For liberals, that often means shrugging and saying, “Who are we to judge?”

Neither response offers much of an argument against giving equal time to devil worshippers.

For many liberals that’s okay, because a strong civil society isn’t a big priority. Indeed, they often talk about the state as if it’s synonymous and overlapping with society. That’s why ridiculous phrases like “government is just a word for the things we do together” are so popular with people such as president Obama.

But government isn’t synonymous with civil society, nor is it a substitute for family, church, or community. And if you mistake the state as a replacement for such things, you further weaken them.