Faith: April 2015 Archives

The headline quote is from the Grauniad*, the left-wing British newspaper, from an editorial pooh-poohing concerns about the marginalization of Christians in the officially Christian United Kingdom.

Here's the context (emphasis added):

They claim then that it would violate their consciences to do or say certain things which society as a whole has determined are moral. This won't do. Conscience cannot provide "a get out of jail free" card, neither metaphorically nor, should it come to that, literally. We all have consciences but there is no guarantee they will lead us to the same conclusions. This fact is literally tragic, as the Greeks knew. Nonetheless, any society has to privilege some ethical viewpoint and some virtues.

In the west we privilege conflicting but broadly liberal values. We no longer privilege the authority of the Bible. So, once we have determined that discrimination against homosexuals violates the principle of equality - and that is the settled position in both law and public opinion now - the fact that some people are compelled by their consciences to disagree does not exempt them from behaving as if it were true. There cannot be a special exemption for mistaken beliefs held on religious grounds when these harm others.

The Christian Institute, an organization that defends the rights of British Christians to live out their faith in an officially Christian nation, responded to the Grauniad:

Institute spokesman Simon Calvert said: "Most UK Christians do not need The Guardian to remind them that their own marginalisation should not be put on a par with the persecution of believers overseas."

"But this does not mean that highlighting such marginalisation is 'hysterical'. Why are Christians the only people the Guardian thinks should keep quiet when they are mistreated?

"The editorial seems to equate 'civilised society' to 'endorsing homosexual relationships'. In so doing it seeks to devalue centuries of orthodox Christian thinking and entirely ignore the fact that Christianity has made arguably the biggest single contribution to the civilised society our country has enjoyed for hundreds of years.

"More than that, they ignore the fact that the principle of religious liberty, Christians being able to live out their faith in the public square, is vital for a truly civilised society....

"After years of being told that Christian morality should not be allowed to have any influence on the law, Christians might be surprised to see The Guardian now admitting that 'any society has to privilege some ethical viewpoint and some virtues'. Clearly, they mean their own secularist viewpoint, not the Christian one, which they assert is 'mistaken'."

So much for pluralism. The Left was all about toleration and pluralism during the Gramscian march through the institutions. Having been tolerated and allowed to rise through the ranks, they begin to crack down on conservatives, to hinder their promotion, or exclude them from admission altogether. We've seen this in academia, we've seen it in church organizations, we've seen it in the entertainment industry. Conservatives in these institutions find themselves having to hide their views to keep their careers.

The Presbyterian Church USA provides an early example. Only 11 years passed between the Auburn Affirmation of 1924, which argued for toleration of heterodox views within the northern denomination, and the 1935 expulsion of J. Gresham Machen from ministry within that denomination. Having gained control of the denomination, the Leftists purged Princeton Theological Seminary in 1929. When conservatives, in response, founded an independent seminary and missions board, in 1934 the Leftists punished and expelled ministers who cooperated with them. In ten years, the Leftists went from saying that the denomination's General Assembly had no authority to require adherence to orthodox Christian doctrine to saying that the General Assembly had the authority to forbid the support of independent, orthodox Christian organizations -- that is, organizations which the Leftists did not control -- under pain of expulsion.

Truth can tolerate the existence of error, but the Leftist worldview, grounded as it is in delusions about reality, requires the totalitarian suppression of truth.

Having purged the cultural institutions and used them to brainwash those members of the public not firmly grounded in the truth, the Left is now purging the general public. You can believe the truth, but you have to behave as if the Left's delusions are true.

Since the Left is finally being honest about the reality that some ethical viewpoint will control society, conservatives should not be shy about working to recapture the culture for the worldview and values that built a peaceful and prosperous civilzation, while working to displace from positions of cultural influence the advocates of destructive doctrines that have led to an explosion of relational breakdown, mental illness, and violence.

Retaking the culture is not about mere partisanship -- "we like our side better than your side." It's about rebuilding a safe and stable society to everyone's benefit.

This is a long-term project, but so was the Left's Gramscian march. It will be difficult, because, as they have for many years, the Left will use their control of institutions to pose as dispassionate experts. Conservative efforts to retake control of our public schools and universities will be characterized as "politicizing" supposedly neutral institutions, and naive folks who are themselves conservative will be led to resist. The fight over AP US History was a preview of coming attractions. I was amazed to see friends who are politically and religiously conservative join in the outcry against the legislative bill to offer an alternative, in response to the Leftist changes to the AP US History curriculum. They believed the line that legislators were politicizing the course, but not the Leftists who were remaking the course to serve their political ends, because the College Board was seen as some neutral authority -- a neutral authority with the power to withhold a desired credential.

As conservative Presbyterians learned in the 1920s and 1930s (and in every decade since then), the Left is not going to allow anyone to opt out, not without paying a heavy price. (Just ask the folks at Kirk of the Hills Church.)

P. S. Some conservative pundits have criticized conservative efforts in the 1980s, like the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition to exert political influence through the Republican Party, while neglecting the importance of cultural institutions. It seems to me that politics was the only earthly lever available, even at that point. The Left had already consolidated control of academia, entertainment, and the Democratic Party.

P. P. S. Just as the Leftist takeover of the mainline Presbyterian denomination is a useful paradigm for understanding the Left's strategy, the conservative retaking of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1980s can serve as a paradigm for fighting back.

* The Grauniad is the nickname given to the paper by the satirical magazine Private Eye.

MORE about Prof. Machen and the Leftist capture of the PCUSA:

Fighting the Good Fight: A Brief History of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen led the founding of the OPC after his expulsion from the PCUSA.

"The Necessity of the Christian School," a lecture delivered by Machen to the 1933 convention of the National Union of Christian Schools.

Christianity in Conflict, Machen's own account of the controversies of his career.

MORE: Erick Erickson has a fresh example of the culture war within the church: The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church replaced a pastor against the wishes of the congregation, because the pastor had signed a statement in support of existing denominational policy on marriage.

The church's pastor, Dr. Carole Hulslander, and her husband Douglas used their own funds to help start the church fifteen years ago.

But after Dr. Hulslander signed a "Unity and Integrity" statement calling on the United Methodist Church to maintain its standards of Biblical integrity with regard to marriage, the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church sought to remove her....

Two weeks before Easter, the District Superintendent showed up with a new pastor. When the Chair of the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee refused to allow a service that Sunday morning, because the District had violated the church's Book of Church Discipline, the congregation retreated to their fellowship hall to sing and pray. The new pastor came in and began berating one of the members of the congregation. The new pastor demanded keys be handed over. When others intervened to calm the situation, the new pastor told the congregation to 'f*ck off'." The lion that would separate the sheep from their shepherd now paces around the walls of this church.

So it would appear that, although the national denomination has not yet been fully captured by the Left, the regional body has been, and they are seeking to drive out opposition to make it easier to win at the national level. The real estate arrangements in the denomination mean that the hierarchy could deprive the congregation of the church they built with their own funds. Like the historic Episcopal parishes at Truro and Falls Church in northern Virginia, like Church of the Holy Spirit in Tulsa, they will likely have to forfeit that investment and fund another meeting place. (Tulsa's Kirk of the Hills was at least able to ransom their property, but it doesn't sound like the North Georgia Conference will let these people off that easily.) With the Left, it always seems to come around to cursing and coercion, and they're not shy about using the power they have to crush opposition, because they know their fellow-travelers in the mainstream media will find a way to paint them in a sympathetic light.

MORE: Writing for Media Research Center, Jeff Dunetz documents Hillary Clinton's aim to "privilege some ethical viewpoint" by suppressing religious beliefs that hinder the unfettered practice of abortion. Dunetz quotes a Daily Caller report of Clinton's speech last week to the 2015 Women in the World Summit:

"Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth, and laws don't count for much if they're not enforced. Rights have to exist in practice -- not just on paper," Clinton said.

"Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will," she explained. "And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed. As I have said and as I believe, the advancement of the full participation of women and girls in every aspect of their societies is the great unfinished business of the 21st century and not just for women but for everyone -- and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States."

It's a clear expression of the missionary drive of the Leftist religion. Converts must be made, if not by persuasion, then by the exertion of political will. More of a jihad than a mission, really.

(Clinton is right about one thing: "Rights have to exist in practice -- not just on paper." Freedom of religion is worthless if it merely means the freedom to believe something in your own head while being compelled by the state to behave as if lies were true.)

Dunetz points out that this is not a new stance for Clinton. He points to two examples where Clinton condemned Israeli government accommodations to Orthodox Jewish practice.

[In a 2011 speech, Clinton] referred to the decision of some male Orthodox IDF soldiers to leave an event where female soldiers were singing (Orthodox men do not believe in listening to the singing voice of women). Ms Clinton said it reminded her of the situation in Iran. Of course, in Iran, the women may have been lashed or executed for violating gender codes. In Israel, the women sang, but the men who felt it was against their religious beliefs to listen to a woman sing were allowed to walk out.

She also expressed outrage at the small number of Jerusalem buses that offer sex-segregated seating to meet the needs of Orthodox men and women who are shomer negiah, avoiding physical contact with the opposite sex outside of family relationships in order to guard purity.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from April 2015.

Faith: December 2014 is the previous archive.

Faith: June 2015 is the next archive.

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