This is my second consecutive blog post on the topic of religious tolerance, and it’s a topic I’ve touched on before, in this post at great length, and tangentially in this post, this post, this post, and this post. Those four latter posts were chiefly about Rev. Wright, and how silly I thought it was to tie Obama to Rev. Wright. I still think it was silliness. In thirty years time, probably much less, the story of the interaction between religion and politics will be dominated by much weightier matters, and Rev. Wright won’t even be a blip on the radar screen. In fact, we’ll probably yearn for the day when Rev. Wright was the top story, as a recollection of the good old days.
There’s a reason I’m harping on this topic. I sense grave trouble ahead for the First Amendment’s freedom of religion. If the religious tolerance doesn’t improve, at some future date, we could be living in a very different America where the government is very hostile toward religion. If it reaches that point, then, in my mind, America will cease to be America.
But before I elaborate further, I want to draw your attention to an editorial that I saw two or three days ago in the Christian Science Monitor, but apparently it was written much earlier at a blog titled Internet Monk. Written by a Christian named Michael Spencer, it was titled “The Coming Evangelical Collapse.” Seeing the editorial this week I thought was very timely, considering some other headlines this week in relation to Federal courts. The editorial is displayed across three pages on the CSM website, and I recommend clicking the link and reading at least to the top of the second page.
I’m sure you’ve seen the evangelical Christian mega-churches, emblematic of the charismatic movement that feature dancing and clapping to Christian rock music played on drums, electronic keyboards, and electric guitars, with sermons derived just as much from poetry and song lyrics as they are from the scriptures. Maybe you even attend such a church. The modern charismatic movement within Christianity was an adaptation mostly designed to bring younger generations in contact with the churches. It was thought that without such adaptations, the Christian congregations would dwindle away to nearly nothing as church members aged and passed away with none of the rising generation taking their places in the pews.
The charismatic style of worship is not what I prefer, myself. I prefer the more traditional services, with hymns accompanied by a piano or organ, and sermons that delve into scripture. But I’m not writing this blog piece to find fault with the evangelical movement in a wish that worship returns to a more traditional format. Quite the opposite. I’m concerned that the evangelical charismatic movement might be decimated.
Spencer’s op/ed discusses some of the vulnerabilities of the charismatic format of worship, particularly the vulnerabilities of parishioners who are not so informed about the doctrines recorded in the Bible.
The strength of the charismatic movement is fellowship, a sense of belonging, of knowing that your fellow parishioners deeply love and care about you, and another strength is the simple sermons that communicate the message “God loves you.” Indeed, God does love us–it’s the most important message a Christian church ought to convey–and fellowship was one of the purposes in forming churches in the first place.
Michael Spencer points out that enduring discipleship requires deeper doctrinal roots, and that can be more challenging to foster in the charismatic format of worship. Touting conservative political values can ring hollow without deeper understandings of doctrine. The perceived bond between evangelical Christianity and political conservatism means that evangelical Christianity will have the same ire directed at it as is directed at conservatism. When that ire bears down with full force upon the parishioners of the evangelical ministries, significant numbers of them will not be sufficiently prepared to withstand it. Jesus Christ told a parable of a sower and seed. The seeds that could get no depth of root, though they sprouted quickly, were eventually scorched by the mid-day sun.
So, in my mind, religious tolerance practiced by all Americans would allow these ministries to continue to flourish, and I hope such is the case. So I have been harping on the principle of religious tolerance. All faiths, including non-Christian faiths, stand to benefit.
There you have it. I’ve explained myself. I’ve explained my motive.
But I believe Michael Spencer is not mistaken. I see the writing on the wall. On our current trajectory, I believe, as he does, that:
“Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.”
Michael Spencer goes on to predict what the fallout will look like, what elements of Christianity are likely to survive the onslaught, and what principles to follow that will likely bring about Christian revitalization. I differ somewhat on what the fallout will look like, but I don’t wish to dwell on it too much.
Instead, I have something to say concerning the agents of hostility against Christianity. Spencer does not identify who these agents of intolerance will be, nor does he identify the path by which the government becomes hostile to Christianity.
A prominent headline in the mainstream media this week has been the ruling by a Federal district court that California’s Proposition 8 identifying marriage as a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. I’ve been keeping a wary eye on this. Our Constitution begins with “We the People,” yet a vote of the people has been overturned by this ruling. Each state determines its own marriage laws, but the federal judiciary is now co-opting the states’ prerogatives. I don’t agree that such a case should ever have been heard in a federal court, in the first place. There already are murmurings that some states may eventually rebel against the federal government, but, as we see, on virtually every front and virtually every issue, the federal government seems intent on widening the rift.
I don’t take solace in the fact that this ruling is being appealed. I’ll explain why.
The other big headline in the mainstream media this week is that Elena Kagan, though unqualified, has been confirmed as the newest Supreme Court justice. This is emblematic of a larger trend. Part of the agenda of the Obama Administration in filling federal court vacancies is to stack the deck in favor of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual) community. The Kagan appointment fits this agenda, and her Senate confirmation shows just how easy it will be for the Obama Administration to continue this agenda in filling federal court vacancies at every level.
But that’s not all. I’ve looked around at several states that elect judges. Often times in such states, like Ohio, the party affiliation of the judicial candidates is not listed on the ballot, yet we know that there is a Democrat slate of candidates and a Republican slate of candidates. This year, there appears to be yet another slate of candidates. There is a slate of LGBT-endorsed candidates. In a number of races, the LGBT has tapped a candidate from the Democrat or Republican slate to also appear on their slate. But in those cases where that is not the case, the LGBT is fielding their own candidate.
Among those three-way races, or more-way races, where the LGBT has fielded their own candidate, I’ve witnessed some crafty campaign advertising, wherein the campaign message is couched in Tea Party Movement terms. In such cases the LGBT advertisement highlights the campaign contributors of the partisan slate candidates, and cites it as evidence that the partisan candidates are agenda-driven, prone to legislating from the bench to serve the interests of campaign contributors. Thus, the LGBT candidate is positioned as the candidate who will uphold the Constitution, not an activist who will pursue the agendas driven by campaign contributors. Clearly, this mimics Tea Party Movement communications.
If you want an example of such a campaign to research on your own, I invite you to look into the campaign of a candidate for Supreme Court justice in the state of Washington named Charlie Wiggins who is competing against Bryan Chushcoff and Richard B. Sanders in a top-two primary election slated for August 17. The top two candidates will proceed to a run-off in the November general election.
It’s set in motion already. The first dominoes have fallen in these two headlines of this week. The LGBT community will fashion the government to their liking through the courts, at federal and state levels, bypassing legislatures, and clearly bypassing votes of the people.
This is the path by which the government becomes hostile toward Christianity.
Religion has been made the scapegoat in prior losses the LGBT suffered in vote after vote of the people. As I have pointed out, there are secular arguments that even an atheist can make against same-sex marriage, so scapegoating religion is disingenuous, but it serves the purpose of the LGBT community, so they continue to do so.
But Christianity can withstand hostile governments. If the opposition that evangelical Christianity were to face were merely hostile governments, then I would not be in agreement with Michael Spencer’s editorial.
I predict, however, that after the LGBT community has toppled the last domino in their quest for the government to embrace their agenda, the LGBT community will still not be done with the work they want to do. They will turn their attention on any church that considers homosexuality a sin, and they will harass such churches.
Thus the LGBT community will be the foremost agents of the persecution that evangelical Christianity will face, and I don’t share Spencer’s view that the Roman Catholic church will add significantly to its numbers during the onslaught in light of who, in my opinion, will be the agents of Christian oppression, but I do share his view that a great many Christian parishioners won’t withstand such opposition.
When that fever pitch is reached, we shall see the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion discarded. Violent civil strife may even ensue.
Religious tolerance practiced by all Americans would prevent such events from unfolding. It is apparent to me, however, that the LGBT community will only tolerate the denominations that align themselves with the standards of political correctness set forth by the LGBT community.
If you are reading this, you may be thinking to yourself that you are reading the absurd paranoid ramblings of a raving lunatic. I invite you to read this again in thirty years time to match it against what has actually transpired by then.