• ACLU comes out of the closet

    The ACLU no longer supports free speech in any robust and traditional American sense:

    The 2018 guidelines claim that “the ACLU is committed to defending speech rights without regard to whether the views expressed are consistent with or opposed to the ACLU’s core values, priorities and goals.” But directly contradicting that assertion, they also cite as a reason to decline taking a free-speech case “the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values.”

    Wendy Kaminer (pay wall). All the people who were shocked to learn that Greg Louganis was gay may now succumb to The Vapors.

  • Be it noted that POTUS just did what he has resolutely been denying he could do.

  • Wonderfully succinct

    “You are forgiven” is a message grounded in the fact that there is something to forgive.

    That’s why the culture’s counterprogramming, the endless recitation of the falsehood that you’re “perfect just the way you are,” is so pernicious. It not only inoculates a person against the Gospel, it helps immiserate them, as their beliefs are in a constant tension with the witness of their own conscience. At a deep level, it’s hard to believe a lie.

    David French

  • Instrumentalizing the faith

    Southern Baptists tend to look down on prosperity gospellers for their instrumentalizing faith for the sake of gaining money, but that they are often guilty of the same thing, except not with money, but with power. Looking at it from the outside, I can’t see much difference between these Christians on the right, and Christians on the left who worship “social justice” like First Dallas types worship America and conservative politics.

    (Rod Dreher, quoting a Southern Baptist friend)

  • Catch 22 or sheer sophistry?

    [Damon] Linker doesn’t mention it, but the flip side of [American] moralism is the kind of moral outrage that now swamps evangelical commentary about the White House. They may not realize it, but to condemn Trump as wicked and perverse and his supporters as hypocritical is to claim implicitly that he is beneath the United States’ moral superiority, the city shining on the hill. If those who condemn Trump for moral failings (as opposed to illegal activity or unwise policy) could accept that the president is an crude New Yorker serving a nation that has all the challenges other countries face in a fallen world, they might find relief for their “redeemer nation” complex.

    Is there no getting around a feeling of moral superiority, or is D.G. Hart engaging in a bit of sophistry?

  • Compelled speech

    The NFL isn’t the only football league coercing its players:

    Why should a soccer player face a choice between her career and wearing a Pride Month jersey? Why should the willingness to wear a Pride Month rainbow jersey be the measure for deciding which athletes represent America in the arena of international sports? It is time to challenge these US Pride Month rainbow jerseys as a violation of the international laws of soccer, if not also US law too ….

    Jennifer S. Bryson

  • "Believe me …"

    Is it possible that evangelicals voted for Trump not in spite of evangelicalism, but because of it? Or at least, as [John] Fea put it in that May 2016 post, are their factors inherent within their movement that would make American evangelicals support Trump, even to respond to him with something like belief? In Believe Me Fea identifies several such factors, in particular “the politics of fear, the pursuit of worldly power, and a nostalgic longing for a national past that may have never existed in the first place.”

    Chris Gehrz, Believe Me… You Should Read John Fea’s Book on Evangelical Support for Donald Trump

  • Slowing the trans train

    When the Atlantic starts tacitly saying it would be prudent to put some brakes on the trans train, maybe there’s a chance of sanity drowning out the giddy valorization of all things trans, which seduces teens in their sturm unt drang years:

  • Marriage

    No issues in the modern world seem to be pressing the Church with as much force as those surrounding sex and marriage. The so-called Sexual Revolution has, for the most part, succeeded in radically changing how our culture understands both matters. Drawing from a highly selective (and sometimes contradictory) set of political, sociological and scientific arguments, opponents of the Christian tradition are pressing the case for radical reform with an abandon that bears all of the hallmarks of a revolution. And they have moved into the ascendancy.

    Those manning the barricades describe themselves as “defending marriage.” That is a deep inaccuracy: marriage, as an institution, was surrendered quite some time ago. Today’s battles are not about marriage but simply about dividing the spoils of its destruction. It is too late to defend marriage. Rather than being defended, marriage needs to be taught and lived. The Church needs to be willing to become the place where that teaching occurs as well as the place that can sustain couples in the struggle required to live it. Fortunately, the spiritual inheritance of the Church has gifted it with all of the tools necessary for that task. It lacks only people who are willing to take up the struggle.

    Fr. Stephen Freeman, Marriage as a Lifetime of Suffering, emphasis added.

    Fr. Stephen also has an epigraph from his mentor, Stanley Hauerwas:

    When couples come to ministers to talk about their marriage ceremonies, ministers think it’s interesting to ask if they love one another. What a stupid question! How would they know? A Christian marriage isn’t about whether you’re in love. Christian marriage is giving you the practice of fidelity over a lifetime in which you can look back upon the marriage and call it love. It is a hard discipline over many years.

  • SPLC gets poetic justice (and I can't gloat)

    The SPLC has caved in to threats from a British activist who they characterized as an Anti-Muslim Extremist and who responded with sustained sabre-rattling and a threat of a libel suit. They even paid him $3.375 million in settlement.

    I really must resist schadenfreude:

    The SPLC has fallen from being a justifiably respected warrior against bigotry and brutality to an unreliable, sophomoric, flailing orthodoxy-cop that struggles to distinguish organized hate groups like the Klan from trolls, idiots, or social conservatives. I would like to see them be more responsible. But I am worried — and you should be too — about the abuse of defamation law.

    Popehat Read the whole Popehat column for why you should be worried despite SPLC getting poetic justice served up cold.

  • 9th Commandment caveat

    Father James Martin has disambiguated his position on Roman Catholic teaching about sexuality.

    If Fr. Martin is lying, which I resolutely do not believe he is, then he, of course, is answerable for that to God. But please note that by the same token, anyone who falsely accuses him of lying is also answerable to God.

    Robert P. George, emphasis added.

  • More Bible lipstick on a political pig

    Separating migrant families goes beyond just applying the law. More broadly, in practice, and by design, attorneys general have a lot of flexibility in how they apply the law, and Sessions clearly gets a kick out of applying it in a highly restrictionist way. After all, there is no formal law requiring children to be separated from their families. Also, Christians who don’t want to apply laws they deem unjust do have an option: resign. To Trump’s occasional chagrin, Sessions doesn’t seem to have considered that. And everybody knows why: He’s putting immigration restrictions in place not because he’s a civil servant who puts his own wishes aside and dutifully follows the rules, but because he believes them to be greatly desirable. So if he wants to defend his actions based on the Bible, he should defend the merits of his actions, rather than hide behind Romans 13.

    But this little skirmish might have served some purpose, by drawing attention to what the Bible says about immigration policy. America’s immigration policy for more than 20 years has been to have one set of written laws and another set of unwritten ones, making a mockery of the rule of law and playing no small part in the delegitimization of the political process that has empowered demagogues like Trump. When Sessions, expounding on Romans 13, said that applying the law protects both the weak and the lawful, he might have been disingenuous with regard to his own actions, but he was certainly right in general. So, there’s a lesson here for both sides: Just as conservatives need to wrestle with the plainly clear Biblical verses about sympathy to the stranger, progressives need to account for the clear Biblical verses about the necessity for sound government and rule of law.

    Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    To their credit, some Evangelicals who’ve backed Trump up until now have, to the surprise of Trump and Sessions, broken with him on this barbarity.

  • Bible lipstick on a political pig

    For a time, it was frequently argued that Christianity was on the decline because Americans were fleeing liberal mainline denominations. This was not implausible. Looking at trends in American religion in the late 20th century, it was easy to discern that, on average, the mainline Protestant denominations were declining rapidly. And until recently, the more theologically-conservative evangelical denominations continued to experience growth, or at least hold steady.

    This led the Religious Right to crow that their more conservative theological and political stances were yielding dividends in the pews. They argued that liberal churches had abandoned biblical teachings in favor of more fashionable political causes, but these efforts to “get with the times” failed to bring in new members. Even worse, it caused them to lose existing members to secularism, or nudged them toward more conservative expressions of Christianity, especially evangelical Protestantism.

    One does not often hear this argument anymore.

    Given the Religious Right’s [failure] on other fronts, however, the finding that it [also] expedited the decline of Christian identification and affiliation is a damning indictment of the movement.

    In the realm of politics, the Religious Right was an abysmal failure. It was an effective fundraising tool for Republican politicians, but its lasting victories in terms of social policies are difficult to name.

    (George Hawley, Is the Religious Right to Blame for Christianity’s Decline?)

    What jumped out at me in this was the Religious Right argument that liberal/mainline churches were declining because they “had abandoned biblical teachings in favor of more fashionable political causes.”

    It’s my impression that conservative Evangelicals, too, eventually were mostly putting “Bible” lipstick on a political pig. Their kids, even those who go to Christian colleges, arrive in shocking religious ignorance. Now they’re paying the same price the mainline paid.

    Will they double-down, expecting a turnaround (the humorous definition of insanity), of will they turn around (i.e., repent)?

  • Michael McConnell on Masterpiece Cakeshop

    If a state recognizes the right of “shopkeepers” to refuse service on the basis of secular principles, it cannot punish others who refuse service on the basis of religious principles. The case might be different if all bakers were required to bake all cakes expressing all ideas—but Colorado did not have such a rule. The constitutional principle recognized in this case is not of expansive freedom for religious exercise, but simply of neutrality. The principle is “narrow,” but it is supremely important.

    Enforcement of a genuine public accommodation law, such as a public utility law that requires the utility to serve all comers on a nondiscriminatory basis, would not violate the Free Exercise Clause as interpreted in Smith, because such a law is neutral and generally applicable. A law that allows some bakers to choose not to bake cakes contrary to conscience but requires others to do so, is not neutral or generally applicable, and warrants strict scrutiny.

    If the Hobby Lobby Electric Corp. denied service to a household of devil worshipers, it would lose a free exercise case under Smith. But if the Social Justice Water Works were permitted to deny service to the Ku Klux Klan Country Club, Hobby Lobby Electric’s case would be different. The state cannot allow non-religious people to follow their consciences but strictly enforce the law against religious people. That, I think, is the enduring legacy of Masterpiece.

    Michael McConnell, via Volokh Conspiracy, distilling Masterpiece Cakes. Eugene Volokh disagrees, but the disagreement strikes me as being about McConnell’s unqualified use of the term “principles.” For once, I think Volokh is being a bit dense or credulous. The ability of the law to heap precedent on precedent, a sort of additio ad absurdum, is on full display.

  • [T]he greatest aim of our education should be to make true fathers out of the boys, and true mothers out of the girls. Everything else is secondary.

    José Marti (via Johann Christoph Arnold)

  • Why the I.R.S. Should Go After Trump. Spoiler: He has shamelessly abused the Trump Foundation for non-charitable purposes.

  • A fundamental need for order

    [W]hat [Jordan] Peterson has achieved is impressive. In his writings and public appearances, he has made a formidable case that order—and not just freedom—is a fundamental human need, one now foolishly neglected. He is compelling in arguing that the order today’s deconstructed society so desperately lacks can be reintroduced, even now, through a renewed engagement with the Bible and inherited religious tradition.

    … His book is a natural complement to important recent works such as Ryszard Legutko’s “The Demon in Democracy,” Patrick Deneen’s “Why Liberalism Failed” and Amy Chua’s “Political Tribes.” Representing divergent political perspectives, these works nevertheless share Mr. Peterson’s project of getting past the Marxist and liberal frameworks and confronting our trained incapacity to see human beings and human societies for what they really are. As the long-awaited revival of conservative political thought finally gets under way, there may be much more of this to come.

    Yoram Hazony, Jordan Peterson and Conservatism’s Rebirth (pay wall)

  • Living not by lies, USA, 2018

    Earlier this year, when I was in Prague, one of the adult children of the late Czech dissident Vaclav Benda told me that when he and his siblings were small, their father took them aside every day, and reminded them that the things they were hearing in school, and in the official media of their communist dictatorship — all these things were lies. Vaclav and Kamila Benda knew that they were raising their children in a total environment of lies, and that if their kids were going to make it through with their hearts and minds intact, they (the parents) would have to combat the propaganda machine daily.

    It is the same way with us. Live not by lies, said Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Standing up for what is really human, what is really real, requires an enormous amount of vision and courage today. But what choice do we have? To bend our knee to the lies?

    Rod Dreher The things we, our children and grandshildren hear and see in school, and in the unofficial media of our transgressivist dictatorship — all these things are lies.

subscribe via RSS