There is a major culture war looming on the horizon. The offensive will be led by the cultural Left – specifically influential professors, influential lawmakers, and influential creators of pop culture. Their target will be the Christian church and its influences on our culture. Their goal will be to permanently neutralize the influence of Christian morality in the two areas where it arguably still exhibits great power: the right to life (specifically where abortion, abortifactants, and the rationing of medical care are involved) and same sex marriage. Their tactics will involve “civil rights,” “fairness,” “justice,” and “tolerance.” Tolerance for everything but traditional Christian morality, that is.
Why do I believe this?
Because President Obama’s repeated promises that Obamacare would not allocate federal tax dollars to pay for abortion were little more than smoke and mirrors; particularly his “executive order” precluding Federal funding of abortion, which is as worthless as the paper it is written on and in all likelihood would be struck down immediately upon its first challenge in a Federal court.
Because the Obama Administration has just issued its final ruling on the birth control coverage mandated by Obamacare. Under the new HHS guidelines, all employer group health insurance plans must cover contraceptives and birth control devices with zero copay, including ‘morning after’ pills. The only organizations exempted from this rule are incorporated religious institutions (churches, synagogues, mosques, etc.). Religious-affiliated hospitals and universities get a one-year delay but must comply by August. 1, 2013.
Because, in response to the Goodridge decision which legalized marriage for gay and lesbian couples in the state of Massachusetts, and changes in state adoption regulations that gave Massachusetts gay and lesbian couples equal access to adoptions, Catholic Charities of Boston chose to close down their adoption services in 2006 rather than be forced to violate Church teachings and accept gay and lesbian couples as clients.
Because a New Jersey court recently ruled that a United Methodist Church congregation that owns a popular off-campus public venue must allow same sex weddings in that venue because the venue is available for use to the general public. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a lesbian couple who were denied permission to rent the facility for a wedding; the denial by the church was based on its interpretation of Scripture regarding the sacrament of marriage. In other words, the New Jersey court has ruled that religious organizations no longer have the right to limit the use of their own property in ways that are consistent with their beliefs.
Because a Gay Marriage Equality bill (SB 6239) has just been introduced in Washington State. This bill has not made it through committee, nor has it been voted on by the legislature. However it’s stipulations are surprisingly like the case outlined above. The bill pretends to protect churches from discrimination lawsuits that would be expected if the bill were to become state law. But the “protection” offered by the bill ends if any church or clergy member “offers admission, occupancy, or use of [their] accommodations or facilities to the public for a fee, or offers those advantages, privileges, services, or goods to the public for sale.” In other words, any church or clergyman that accepts money in exchange for the use of facilities or services by members of the general public would be open to discrimination lawsuits. (h/t Rick Rice)
Individually, each of these cases involves a number of issues that merit discussion. For example, just how far should churches or religiously-affiliated organizations be expected to serve ‘public interest’ when they open their facilities for public use? Should churches be forced by the government to either suspend social services (food pantries, medical clinics, literacy and GED programs, sports activities for neighborhood kids, etc.), or absorb the entire cost for providing these programs, in order to be protected from discrimination lawsuits?
But taken together, they seem to outline a disturbing trend in which the secularist forces of the political and cultural left now believe they have the right to use the government to manipulate and control the interactions between churches or religiously-affiliated organizations, and the general public.
And I believe that in order to win this fight, they will engage our nation in a culture war where those who oppose same-sex marriage will be likened to the segregationists and proponents of Jim Crow laws in the Old South. Recently Rick Rice highlighted a discussion between a law student and a professor of constitutional law, a man considered by his peers to be very thoughtful and tolerant toward those with opposing views. When the student asked the professor what would happen to those who refused to accept same sex marriage for religious reasons, the professor replied, “Well, they will either have to change their views or be treated in the same way that white supremacists and the segregationist Senators were treated. They were excluded from the judiciary entirely for decades because of the South’s views on race.”
I also believe that the “new Jim Crow” will gradually be expanded to include any opposition to abortion on demand or the free use of abortifactants, and any opposition to the use of ‘ethics panels’ to determine the level of medical treatment given to patients of advanced age or who suffer from chronic or presumably terminal medical conditions.
Currently, our society is being inched toward a centrally-managed health care system. And I seem to sense a very large overlap between the very people who have worked hard to have themselves appointed as the architects and caretakers of our new health care system, and those who cheered a political and moral victory when Terri Schiavo was starved to death at the direction of a court order. It seems reasonable to assume that as more health care decisions are made at a central planning level, we can expect to see more services denied to those who are deemed not worthy of additional investments of time and money.
Consider the case of Amelia, a beautiful little three year old girl born with the rare genetic defect Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome who was recently denied the opportunity to have a kidney transplant because she is mentally retarded and, in the opinion of the transplant team, did not have a “quality of life” that justified a transplant. Amelia was denied the procedure, period, even though her parents offered to find a donor on their own.
In the context of all these things, it was indeed a breath of fresh air when the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in favor of the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran School, which was sued by a former teacher through the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You can read the decision here (Adobe PDF). This Supreme Court decision solidly established the right the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which administered the school, to discipline its own ordained clergy (the plaintiff, Cheryl Perich, was a “called teacher” and therefore a “commissioned minister” in the Evangelical Lutheran Church).
On the other hand, it’s pretty disturbing that the Obama EEOC even felt compelled to argue before the Supreme Court that the government has the right to interfere in the relationship between a church and its clergy. Obviously the EEOC lawyers knew that a win on their behalf would effectively give the government unlimited power to regulate both the internal and external operation of churches – which would essentially negate the First Amendment guarantee of separation of church and state. Apparently that would be an acceptable loss to the Left, if it allowed them to manipulate the Church so that traditional morality no longer has a position of influence over American culture.
And trust me, that’s a victory the Left has been striving to win for the past 30 years. They are ready to fight a long and ugly war. I hope and pray that we have what it takes to stop their offensive – but without turning America into a permanently divided scorched earth society.