In her Oct. 15 op-ed, “Was Barr’s religion speech a cry for help?,” Catherine Rampell wrote that Attorney General William P. Barr’s closed-door speech at the University of Notre Dame “appeared to be a tacit endorsement of theocracy.”

“Theocracy” is an accurate term, but conservative Catholics such as Mr. Barr probably would use the term “Catholic confessional state.” Despite the Catholic Church’s ringing endorsement of religious liberty at the Second Vatican Council, in a document drafted by American John Courtney Murray, the notion of the Catholic confessional state continues to haunt the minds of conservative Catholics.

The confessional state, Catholic or otherwise, fails not only theologically but also practically. As any good leadership training program would teach, good leaders strive not merely to obtain their people’s “compliance” but also to win their “commitment.” Such commitment cannot be forced; it must be earned.

So if Mr. Barr and other conservatives want to bring about the “traditional moral order,” it won’t do to force compliance through the coercive power of the state, plotting behind closed doors. They need to get out in public and earn people’s commitment by convincing them.

Kevin Davis, Chevy Chase