Jesusland? You say that like it's a bad thing


Someone, presumably Sarah Seward, who put the map on the web, observed that all the states that John Kerry won (except Hawaii) are contiguous with Canada. So if I understand the map, the idea is to have the Kerry states (appropriately pink) secede and merge with Canada to form the United States of Canada, while the remainder of the US (a green and pleasant land) would be renamed Jesusland, in honor of the Carpenter from Nazareth whose claims to Lordship are taken seriously by a lot of people in the proposed new nation.

You might not think that Jessica, a young Jewish woman from New York City, would feel comfortable in Jesusland, but you'd be wrong. In fact, she tell us that she hearts it. Follow that link to find out why.

Meanwhile, OkiePundit, who's from Jesusland, doesn't seem that pleased about it (a bit of litotes there), and thinks that evangelicals "are not only one of the greatest dangers to a liberal democracy in the United States but a threat to the world at large if they take control of this superpower." But in the same entry he tells us:

I've learned from innumerable conversations with evangelicals that it is futile to try to have what I'd call a logical discussion on issues with them. To try is akin to speaking with someone who speaks an entirely different language.

So we're ignorant and illogical and yet poised to rule the world. You'd think that, living among us, he would know by now that there's nothing monolithic about evangelicals, although we do come together on a number of issues. Maybe he just assumes, like that liberal woman in Starbucks, that anyone who can speak in complete sentences cannot possibly be an evangelical Christian.

OkiePundit complains about his church's political leanings, and complains about the fact that he's surrounded by evangelicals here in Oklahoma. He could vote with his feet. There are churches in Tulsa where he might feel more at home -- places like Fellowship Congregational or All Souls Unitarian or Trinity Episcopal, where his worldview is the norm. And he could always move to a part of the country without so many evangelicals. Not for nothing do they call Tulsa the buckle on the Bible belt.

The liberals who are panicking about evangelical voters fail to understand that we are not out for conquest. We want to be left alone. We do not want to be forced by judicial fiat to conform to the secularist ideal of society.

The involvement of evangelicals (and other religious conservatives) in politics began in the '60s and '70s as a defensive maneuver, in response to the efforts of liberals to use the courts to impose their values on the rest of the country. Before the courts got involved, diverse regions, cities and towns of various sizes, with various mixes of religions and values evolved various ways of accommodating religous diversity. In smaller towns, it was understood that the views of the majority religion would shape public observances -- in small-town Oklahoma, the school day would begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lord's Prayer, and Christmas programs would be about Christmas, not some generic winter holiday. There may have been a few folks in town not of the majority faith -- they might not join in the observances, but they didn't seek to keep the majority from having their culture and values shape local laws and customs.

I've used religious expression in schools as an example, but the community's values would be expressed in other ways as well -- standards of public decency and morality, abortion laws, standards of public behavior, discipline in schools, Sunday closing laws.

The big cities evolved their own standards to accommodate the greater diversity of values. Public acknowledgement of religion, where it existed, was broad and generic. Big cities like New Orleans, San Francisco, and New York became homes for subcultures devoted to various forms of immorality.

Someone dissatisfied with the restraints of small town life had the freedom to move to a big city. And someone repelled by the social disorder of the big cities could find (or if need be, found) a small town whose values reflected his own. People sorted themselves out.

Then groups like the ACLU began their offensive. They deemed it essential to the preservation of our 1st Amendment freedoms that the town of Podunk, Oklahoma, legalize the sale of explicit books and magazines. Local government and the public schools could no longer accommodate themselves to the religious practices of the overwhelming majority of residents, but must instead become forces for the advancement of secularism. No Sunday closings, no enforcement of decency, no Christmas programs, no prohibition of or regulation of abortion. Solutions that made sense in a big Eastern center of commerce were imposed on small Midwestern farming communities.

All this was accomplished not by persuading the people to change their laws and customs but by using the courts to overrule them.

This is not to say that America was a federalist utopia before the '60s. Oklahoma's rural-dominated legislature imposed small-town values on Tulsa and Oklahoma City, maintaining prohibition of alcohol into the '50s and forbidding liquor by the drink until the '80s. State Jim Crow laws forced individuals and businesses to enforce racial discrimination. But the thrust of cultural imperialism since the '60s has been metropolitan values imposed on small-town America.

The cultural imperalists captured the mainline churches and the Democratic Party and came close to capturing the Republican Party as well. Those who wanted to defend traditional values found a haven in evangelical churches who still adhered to the Bible as their standard of faith and practice. On the radio they heard Ronald Reagan speaking their language, and they flocked to the Republican Party to support his campaign for President. Thanks to his success, the Republican Party became the party of traditional values, and the self-sorting process began. Voters concerned about values moved to the Republican Party and the Democratic Party became increasingly dominated by those hostile to traditional values.

The latest imposition on traditional values is the demand that we accord to homosexual relationships the honor and dignity that are proper to marriage. At the same time, as the nation becomes more sensitive to the reality of life in the womb, the cultural imperialists are using the courts to protect even the most gruesome forms of abortion.

Supporters of traditional values have accommodated this cultural imperialism by withdrawing from the public sphere, and setting up private institutions in accordance with those values. There is some concern that the cultural imperialists will use the courts to force secularist values even on these private institutions.

Values voters went to the polls on Tuesday because they want a President who will not use the levers of the Federal Government to impose secular values on their communities. It's an attempt to defend the ground we haven't already lost.

(This is a pretty rough draft, but I felt it important to get these ideas out there. I will likely refine this in the days to come.)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 7, 2004 10:20 PM.

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