Sunday, August 25, 2019

“Christian Nationalism”

     The relevant article is here:

     A gaggle of representatives from theologically liberal denominations recently issued a statement against Christian nationalism in America, claiming that it threatens both American democracy and the ability of our religious communities to live in peace.

     To be sure, Christian nationalism is an extremely odd place to find the threat to religious freedom in a world that increasingly makes demands like “shut up and wax that woman’s b-lls.” But the irony goes deeper than that. It’s not some stroke of blind chance that lead to religious freedom in the Christian West—it was, in fact, due to our Christian faith.

     The article is worth reading in its entirety. However, I argue that its premise – i.e., that “religious neutrality has failed” – lacks sufficient power to propel his recommendations in their entirety. Besides, how can something fail if it doesn’t exist?

     Author Matthew Cochran’s strongest point is that “religious neutrality,” in the dictionary sense, does not exist and never has existed – anywhere. That ties directly into his observations about “tolerance:”

     Under the guise of religious neutrality, too many Christians have been tricked into withholding their good judgment from matters of state. This has led to some profound changes, but there’s nothing religiously or morally neutral about them.

     We have, for instance, allowed women to choose whether to murder their offspring, but this is not neutrality—in this, the state blatantly values personal autonomy and privacy more than it values love or the right to live. We have forced people to speak as though men are actually women or act as though two women can be married to one-another, but this is not neutral—it demands that Christians set aside their understanding of marriage and sex. Even something as simple as getting rid of blasphemy laws that respected the name of Jesus Christ was never “fair” or neutral—it only cleared the way for new blasphemy laws that respect sexual deviancy and other politically correct subjects du jour instead.

     The Left has made capital out of the notion that “religious neutrality” should bar persons with certain beliefs from public life. Recently, we had the case of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and another involving Brian Buescher, a nominee to one of the District Courts. There’s no argument that this tool must be taken away from them. But it should be addressed separately from the larger subject of the promotion of Christian nationalism.

     The core of the problem arising from the free exercise of religion is that our Supreme Law, which states:

     Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

     ...lacks a definition of religion that would serve to distinguish the protected sort from unacceptable creeds that seek the protection afforded to religions. As matters stand, anyone can formulate a creed of whatever sort, founded on any theology or none, and promulgating any ethical creed, and claim that it’s a religion that deserves the protection of the law. The simplest approach to religion – the union of a theology with a moral-ethical code – is insufficient. It omits to specify what constitutes a genuine theology, and what would pass for an acceptable moral-ethical code.

     At this time there are three million persons resident in our lands who adhere to a “religion” that advocates:

  • Slavery;
  • Theocracy;
  • Wife-beating;
  • Unilateral divorce;
  • Conversion by the sword;
  • Polygamy and concubinage;
  • Enforced codes for dress and grooming;
  • The execution of apostates, heretics, and blasphemers;
  • The execution of homosexuals, adulterers, and fornicators;
  • War by which to eliminate all competing religions from the world.

     If any Gentle Reader of Liberty’s Torch believes that the advocacy of those things deserves the protection of the law, I’ve slipped into the “bearded Spock universe” without noticing.

     Cochran is correct that America’s conceptual basis proceeds directly from the nearly unanimous adherence to some variety of Christianity at the time of the Founding. However, his conception of a workable Christian nationalism needs work. It fails to say which aspects of Christian doctrine and practice are integral to our conceptual base and our public norms, and which ones are not.

     For example, Catholics, the largest individual denomination within American Christianity, observe certain holy days by obligation. We are required to attend Mass on those days. Until recently, we were also forbidden to perform “servile work.” This is a sectarian requirement; other varieties of Christianity do not include it and would bridle at the suggestion that it might be imposed upon them. Similarly, a couple of the smaller Christian denominations forbid wives to work outside the home. That wouldn’t be greeted warmly by the others. A nationalism founded on Christianity would perforce need to specify the extent to which Christian precepts and doctrines are to be honored by the law.

     Christians agree on the Ten Commandments of the Book of Exodus, and on the two Great Commandments that underpin them. Yet even here, many sincere Christians would object to having all of them become law. After the excisions and qualifications required to achieve consensus, Christian nationalism would be reduced to an acknowledgement of Christianity’s contributions to the political philosophy expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

     Perhaps that would be valuable by itself. After all, the Left-dominated educational system is striving with all its might to deny it. But its nebulosity makes it seem a very weak tea.


Tracy Coyle said...

I have long argued that our legal system, even unto the Constitution, is NOT based in Christian morality per se. It is based on individual rights, a concept within Christian teaching. The difference is important because if it is based on religion (Christian) then if sufficient numbers of citizens hold to a DIFFERENT religion in which some laws are in conflict, the community (be it a city - Dearborn for example), or a State can change those laws to conform to THAT religion.

Having as a foundation individual rights and the protection thereof protects ALL religions and the society as a whole from those religions.

Yes, I of such divergent lifestyles, can live peacefully within our society based on Christian beliefs, but living under religious legal foundations threatens my rights and my liberty and anyone else's that does not adhere to the beliefs of the dominant religion.

MrGarabaldi said...

They can make comments insulting Christianity and be ok, there will not be a mob thirsting for his/her/non binary/non genderspicific blood. Now islam is different, if you espouse something different than what is in the Koran than you are on thin ice with those individuals, and if you insult islam, there will be a fatwa....Ask Salmon Rusdie how he is doing.