Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

HOW THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION BECAME A DOGMA

original article: THE ZEALOUS FAITH OF SECULARISM
January 2018 by Mary Eberstadt

 

Begin with a sobering fact. During the past ten years, some of the sharpest observers of our time have come to believe that the tectonic plates underlying Western civilization have shifted momentously. One result is a deep, creative struggle among the thoughtful for new imagery and fresh analogies to illuminate what’s perceived as a darkening time.

Thus, nine years ago, the late Richard John Neuhaus called this new place “American Babylon.” Today, in another eponymous book, Rod Dreher speaks of a “Benedict Option.” George Weigel called in his 2017 Simon Lecture for a new Great Awakening, and elsewhere for what he dubs “the Panula option” after the recently deceased Fr. Arne Panula, a tireless evangelizer. Using T. S. Eliot as a touchstone, First Things editor R. R. Reno argues for Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society. In Strangers in a Strange Land, Archbishop Charles Chaput develops an analogy between our time and that of the Book of Exodus. And in yet another book just published, Anthony Esolen evokes the image of the phoenix with Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture.

As this profusion of literary and historical analyses goes to show, to be Christian today is to be a sailor in search of an astrolabe. And no wonder: We are in open, roiling, uncharted waters, so looking up to fixed points would help. One other way to orient ourselves is to peer down beneath the currents and focus on what’s done most to shape the “post-Christian” or “ex-Christian” world: the sexual revolution.

That the revolution is what’s catapulted us to this place is a fact that more and more analysts now affirm. What may be less obvious, though just as important, is what the widespread Western embrace of the revolution has wrought not only in individual lives, but macrocosmically: It has given rise to an increasingly systematic, zealous, secularist faith. We cannot understand either the perils or opportunities of Christianity today without first understanding this developing, rival body of beliefs with which it contends.

To begin with a point to which many Christian thinkers would agree, the United States and other nations rooted in Judeo-Christianity have entered a time of paganization—what we might also call “re-paganization.” The gravitational pull of traditional religion seems to be diminishing, even as a-religious and anti-religious elements accumulate mass. This paganization is especially ascendant among the young, now famously more prone than any other group to checking “none of the above” when asked for their religious affiliation; according to the Pew Research Center and others, the combination of self-described atheists and self-defined “nones” is now the fastest-growing “religious” group.

Wider manifestations of this ongoing paganization have also become commonplaces: the proliferation of religious liberty court cases, legal and other attacks on Christian student groups at secular universities, demonization and caricature of religious believers, intimidation aimed at those who defend Judeo-Christian morality, and other instances of what Pope Francis himself has dubbed the “polite persecution” of believers in advanced societies. Paganization is also evident in the malignant conflation of Christianity with “hate speech,” a noxious form of ideological branding destined to unleash new forms of grief on believers in the time ahead.

So far, so familiar. And yet, we’ve not fully understood this new paganism after all.

According to the dominant paradigm shared by most people, religious and secular alike, the world is now divided into two camps: people of faith and people of no faith. But this either-or template is mistaken. Paganization as we now know it is driven by a new historical phenomenon: the development of a rival faith—a rival, secularist faith which sees Christianity as a competitor to be vanquished, rather than as an alternative set of beliefs to be tolerated in an open society.

How do we know this? We know it in part because today’s secularist faith behaves in ways that only a faith can.

Consider, for example, the scene on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States on June 27, 2016, following the announcement of the decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a decision about Texas abortion clinics that was taken as a victory by proponents of abortion on demand. After that decision was made public, videos documented the outdoor party that resulted, spilling from the court steps on out into the city: a gyrating, weeping, waving, screaming sea of people, mostly women, behaving as if they were in the throes of religious ecstasy. Occam’s razor says they were in religious ecstasy—their kind of religious ecstasy, in which abortion on demand becomes the gnostic equivalent of a central sacrament, the repetition of which is judged essential to their quasi-religious community.

Or consider another snapshot: the so-called Women’s March on Washington following the election of Donald Trump. This public demonstration, too, was driven in large degree by a single force: animus against traditional Judeo-Christian moral teaching—specifically, teaching about sex. The totemic hats used to brand the event were named not for any conventional political concern—jobs, taxes, defense, the economy, health care, immigration—but for female genitalia. To clinch the point, the only women’s organization disinvited from this supposedly universal “women’s march” was a pro-life group. When forced to choose between women and abortion on demand, the women in charge chose abortion. That’s because, within this new church of secularism, pro-life women are heretics: despised transgressors of a religious community’s teaching and norms.

If the so-called right to choose were truly an exercise of choice—if the rhetoric of the people who defend it matched the reality of what they actually believe—one would expect its defenders to honor choosing against it here or there. But this does not happen: No “pro-choice” group holds up as an example any woman who chooses not to abort.

That this doesn’t happen tells us something noteworthy. For secularist believers, abortion is not in fact a mere “choice,” as their value-free, consumerist rhetoric frames it. No, abortion is sacrosanct. It is a communal rite—one through which many enter their new religion in the first place. The popular, Internet-driven rage for “telling one’s own abortion story”—the phenomenon known as #shoutyourabortion—illustrates this point. Each individual story is a secularist pilgrim’s progress into a new faith whose community is united by this bloody rite of passage. Add the suggestively popular term “woke”—today’s gnostic version of “awakened”—and there’s more evidence that secularist progressivism has erected a church.

So the fury directed at Christianity can be pressed into a single word, sex. Christianity today, like Christianity past and Christianity to come, contends with many enemies. But the adversary now inflicting maximal damage on the Church is not dreamed of in Horatio’s philosophy. It is instead the absolutist defense of the sexual revolution by its faithful.

Christians and other dissidents aren’t being heckled from Hollywood to Capitol Hill for feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, or defending the commandments against lying and stealing. Bakers aren’t landing in court because of trying to follow what’s said in the Song of Songs. All of the expressions of animosity now aimed against Christianity by this new secularist faith share a common denominator. They are rooted in secularist dogma about the sexual revolution, according to which that revolution is an unequivocal and fundamental boon.

This substitute religion pantomimes Christianity itself in fascinating ways. It offers a hagiography of secular saints, all patrons of the sexual revolution: proselytizers for abortion and contraception such as Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem. Every year, Planned Parenthood confers on pro-abortion journalists, politicians, activists, and others prizes known affectionately as the “Maggies,” for Margaret Sanger—its “highest honor,” in the organization’s words, awarded in recent years to luminaries such as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.

This brings us to another feature of the new secularist faith: its lack of transparency. For decades, scholarship has established Sanger’s moral roots in eugenics, her faith in the inferiority of certain other people, her cynical use of African-American ministers to evangelize the black population about birth control in the hope of bringing their numbers down, and related beliefs out of odor today. Yet in a moment when Confederate statues are targets in the name of scrubbing racism from the public square, Margaret Sanger remains immune from moral revisionism. Why? Because she is the equivalent of a secularist saint of the revolution, off-limits from second thoughts.

Similar status and protection are accorded to pseudo-scientist Alfred C. Kinsey, founder of the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, whose fabled “reports” on human sexuality included allowing so-called research “subjects” to inflict what is now called child sexual abuse. According to biographer James H. Jones in Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life, the icon also filmed sex acts of employees and subordinates, walked in on students as they showered, had sex with people involved in his “research,” wrote letters of erotica to assistants and others, and otherwise appears to have fallen short of today’s standards concerning sexual harassment and coercion. Even before “Harvey Weinstein” became global shorthand for such depredations, Kinsey’s legacy would have been reviled—were he anything but Kinsey, a founding father of the new secularist faith. Instead, Kinsey and all his works, like Sanger’s, remain untouchable.

The rival faith sports foreign “missionaries,” too, in the form of progressive charities and international bureaucracies—those who carry word of the revolution and the pseudo-sacraments of contraception and abortion to women around the planet. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to name one prominent example, recently made the provision of contraception a centerpiece of its overseas work. It hopes thereby to reach “an additional 120 million women and girls in the poorest countries by 2020.”

Who, exactly, are these women? Judged by the photos on the Gates Foundation website, they do not hail from Iceland or Denmark. As the foundation explains, “Less than 20 percent of women in Sub-Saharan Africa and barely one-third of women in South Asia use modern contraceptives”—making these women targets of quasi-religious zeal.

In fact, preoccupation with the fertility of certain other people is a constant theme in the church of the new secularism. In July 2017, French president Emmanuel Macron revealed his own fealty to the faith when he dilated at an appearance in Germany—of all places—upon the “civilizational” challenges facing Africa, singling out the fact that women in some countries still have “seven or eight children.” Elsewhere that same summer, Canada’s minister of international development, Marie-Claude Bibeau, called abortion “a tool to end poverty.” In 2009, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a similar slip in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, reflecting that “at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

Again, it’s the lack of transparency that makes this faith go round. Under any other circumstances, if well-heeled white people were to proclaim that the solution to the world’s problems is to have fewer dark people, public outrage would be the result. Yet in secular quarters, these statements above, and others like them, get a pass. This is what happens when one’s religion takes as its cornerstone the teaching that the sexual revolution and its consequences are beyond question—eugenics, sexual violations, and other transgressions be damned.

Traditional religious believers should strive to bring the hidden premises of this rival faith into the open. For example, when people say that they hope the Church changes its position on marriage or birth control, they are not talking about one religious faith—i.e., the Christian one. What they really mean is that they hope the Church will suborn or replace its own theology with the theology of the new church of secularism. Or when politicians say they are “privately opposed to abortion”—even as they vote for policies that will ensure its ubiquity—they are using language to conceal rather than clarify their intention. What they really want is to enjoy a kind of dual religious citizenship, according to which they are “Catholic” or “Christian” in some circumstances, and followers of the church of secularism in any circumstances bearing on the sexual revolution.

This effort to keep a foot in both churches won’t work, any more than one can be simultaneously Muslim and Buddhist. Even so, the effort to enjoy dual religious citizenship, particularly among politicians and others in the public eye, remains commonplace. It should be understood for what it is: an attempt to serve two very different—indeed, competing—religious masters.

The fact that two faiths now compete in the West also explains the vehemence aimed at public figures who are practicing Christians—in particular, practicing Catholics. In September 2017, at the confirmation hearing of judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic, several senators remarked upon and denounced her faith. The most telling rhetorical moment may have been Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s declaration that “the dogma lives loudly within you”—an expostulation more fitted to an exorcist preparing for battle with Satan than to an American elected official charged with ascertaining the judicial fitness of a highly qualified candidate. Which is exactly the point.

In sum, secularist progressivism is less a political movement than a church, and the so-called culture war has not been conducted by people of religious faith and people of no faith. It is instead a contest of competing faiths. One believes in the books of the Bible, and the other in the evolving, figurative book of orthodoxy about the sexual revolution.

What does this tour of the new church of secularism mean for those outside its congregation? First, traditional believers need to distinguish the competitive character of this new religion from the cooperative qualities of other, more familiar ones. At long last and after great troubles, Americans have grown accustomed to the peaceful coexistence of multiple faiths and denominations. The rival church of secularism seeks no such comity, as today’s unprecedented attacks on Christian schools, charities, colleges, and other works go to show. The new church of secularism serves a very jealous god.

We see this, again, in the new church’s chronic, self-perceived imperative to interfere with the fertility of other people. This spectacle—of pale people in increasingly barren societies telling certain other people not to have their own children—is going to look grotesque in history’s rearview mirror. It also shows that the Christian idea of the intrinsic dignity and worth of all human beings stands as an especially vivid sign of contradiction to secularism’s understanding that certain people would be better off dead, or otherwise not among us. And it’s at least ironic that a movement known by the slogan “keep your rules off my body” has no trouble telling other people what to do with theirs.

Its missionary aggression also explains why the new secular faith has insinuated itself successfully into many Christian institutions, and why this insinuation has been invariably destructive. At the micro level of personal behavior, the new faith tempts people toward disobedience and cafeteria Christianity. At the macro level, it’s institutionally divisive like no other issue of our day. It turns the followers of Christ into political interest groups. The scramble over doctrine in the Catholic Church today, conducted entirely by advocates who mistakenly believe that the dogmas of both faiths can be somehow reconciled, is a powerful example of the sexual revolution’s virulent workings within Christianity itself.

The most insidious threat to the real Church, and even to religious liberty, is not the new secularist church in itself. The greater threat is self-censorship. There is understandable temptation, including among Christians, to preemptively accommodate to this new faith, for all kinds of reasons: saving face, not being “judgy,” preventing the ostracism of one’s children, and other motivations plumbed so searchingly in Rod Dreher’s work, especially. As he also proves, it’s hard to find comity with a foe that wants to drive one’s own Church to perdition. Christians need to know that what’s paramount is confronting secular religion and its sex-fixated dogmas, not accommodating them.

This vocation of religious opposition is necessary not only for the protection of the Church, but also for the sake of the sexual revolution’s real and many victims. The new church of secularism, rooted in a false anthropology that mismeasures humanity and deprives it of redemption, generates human misery throughout Western societies. The malign consequences of secularist doctrine are playing out especially tragically among the young. The scene on many American campuses, to offer one example, has become surreal, replete with demonstrations and high emotional drama and seemingly inexplicable animosities. But why are more and more students behaving so bizarrely in the first place?

One novel thought is this. Maybe they’re claiming to be victims because they are victims—not so much of the “isms” they point to as putative oppressors, but of the church of the new secularism and its toxic works. Up until the sexual revolution, expectations remained largely the same throughout the ages: that one would grow up to have children and a family; that parents and siblings and extended family would remain one’s primal community; that one would have parents and siblings and extended family in the first place.

The revolution has upended every one of these expectations. It has erased the givenness into which generations are born. “Who am I?” is a universal human question. It becomes harder to answer if other questions are out of reach. Who is my brother? Who is my father? Where, if anywhere, are my cousins, grandparents, nieces, nephews, and the rest of the organic connections through which humanity up until now channeled everyday existence—including our relations with God?

It’s this loss of givenness that drives the frenzied search for identity these days, whether in the secular scholasticism concerning how to speak about ethnicity, or in the belligerent fights over “cultural appropriation.” Such phenomena are indeed bizarre, if we examine them under the rationalist assumptions of the pre-revolutionary world. But if instead we understand them against the existential reality of today—one in which the family has imploded, and in which many people, no matter how well-off or privileged, have been deprived of the most elementary of human connections—we can grasp why “identity politics” is the headline that just won’t go away.

“Who am I?” An illiterate peasant of the Middle Ages was better equipped to answer that question than many people in advanced societies in this century. He may only have lived until age thirty—but he spent his days among family and in towns, practicing a shared faith, and thus developed a vivid sense of those to whom he was elementally connected, not just in the course of his life but before birth and after death. Post-Pill, confusion rules the earth. No wonder itinerant erotic leanings and ethnic claims have become substitute answers to that eternal question, “Who am I?” Many people, especially younger people, experience these as the only reliable answers to that question of identity—or at least, as the answers that seem less ambiguous and fraught than answers that refer back to their family, or families, or lack thereof.

In this ongoing catastrophe over the fundamental question of who we are,there is great opportunity. It is shocking but true: The overbearing secularist culture is itself sowing the seeds of a religious revival.

The wide range of fresh cultural and religious analysis mentioned earlier is one measure of a counterculture that’s thriving in this hour of paganization. Even the dominance of the secularist church in familiar venues looks to be less monolithic than is usually understood. Witness again how the conflagration that started with Harvey Weinstein has gone on to illuminate wrongdoing elsewhere, on the part of others who have acted on the premise that women are available for recreational sex anywhere and anytime. Meanwhile, new Catholic and other Christian associations proliferate on campuses and elsewhere, despite fierce secularist pushback. If the rise in “nones” is one emblematic story of our time, so too is the birth of countercultural campus communities like the Thomistic Institute, the Love and Fidelity Network, and FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students); the sharp rise in high schools grounded in classical education; the Leonine Forum for young professionals in Washington, D.C., now expanding into other cities; related ongoing intellectual projects like the Tertio Millennio Seminar in Poland, the Free Society Seminar in Slovakia, and more; and many other organic responses, both protective and proactive, to competition from the rival church of secularism.

These and other platoons like them will transform the American landscape. They encourage the search for transcendence in a world where neo-paganism insists there is none; they help those damaged collaterally by the sexual revolution to find answers to the question “Who am I?” The rival church of secularism shortchanges humanity, and humanity, plodding and delinquent though it may be, still shows signs of wanting more than the church of the new secularism can deliver.

Two such witnesses to that reality appeared in Washington, D. C., a few months ago, in the middle of a heat wave. They had gotten in touch with me to discuss a documentary they were creating to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae. Their studio in D.C. turned out to be their hotel room. The entourage for the shoot included their three very young children, with whom they took turns throughout the interview. They had made many sacrifices and traveled hundreds of miles because, they said, they were on a mission to tell the truth.

The young woman had grown up without knowing who her father was. Her mother, a radical feminist, raised her to fear and hate men. The young man came from Scandinavia, growing up as secular as Scandinavians can be. Both, if encountered earlier in their lives, would have been categorized as “nones.”

In their own estimations, they had escaped from behind enemy lines of the sexual revolution. Somehow, they found each other. Somehow, falling in love led them to question what had happened in their pasts. Somehow, they encountered a priest. Somehow, they read some books by faithful authors. And what with one improbable development and another, both ended up converting to Catholicism. Now they want to share with others the truths they discovered the hard way. That’s how the Church of the future will be rebuilt: stone by stone, picked up from the rubble, by witnesses to the initial blast.

Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles has connected our moment in the West to Juan Diego’s in Guadalupe, almost five hundred years ago. Today’s world, like Diego’s then, overflows with human damage. Today’s world, like his, has now raised up whole generations of men and women subjected to an inhuman account of human life. The resulting deformations are everywhere, and confusion can’t help but abound. Even so, the secularist faith remains vulnerable for the same reasons that a once-triumphant Marxism did: because its promises are false and its anthropology deluded.

The church that the sexual revolution has built is thriving, all right, and those outside need to know what’s in there. But its pews are packed with casualties—every one of them a convert waiting to happen, for the Church that does keep its promises.

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abortion, american, anti-religion, atheism, crisis, culture, ideology, liberalism, philosophy, progressive, religion, sex, study, theology, unintended consequences

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Filed under: abortion, american, anti-religion, atheism, crisis, culture, ideology, liberalism, philosophy, progressive, religion, sex, study, theology, unintended consequences

Government is not enough to rebuild a broken society

original article: Why America Will Not Solve Its Existential Crisis Without A Rebirth Of Faith
November 8, 2017 by Emilie Kao

Country music legend Johnny Cash had hit rock bottom. Exhausted by his struggle with drug addiction, he literally crawled into a cave to die. But then, as he described it later, a feeling of tranquility came over him and drew him back from the brink: “There in Nickajack Cave I became conscious of a very clear, simple idea: I was not in charge of my destiny. I was not in charge of my own death. I was going to die at God’s time, not mine.”

Cash’s spiritual awakening gave him new hope. His story of redemption rings true among countless Americans who credit faith with helping them overcome addiction and other self-destructive behaviors.

Unfortunately, an increasing number of Americans are living only the earlier part of Cash’s story—the misery, futility, and sense of hopelessness. The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Culture and Opportunityreports that Americans are now four times more likely to die from opioid overdose than in 1999. Teens are 13.5 percent more likely to use drugs than in 2006, with just under a quarter of high school seniors reporting drug use last year. President Trump was right to recognize that the opioid crisis is really a national emergency.

The suicide rate has risen so sharply that the overall life expectancy of Americans is declining for the first time since the 1930s. Meanwhile, the marriage rate continues to decline. A likely related trend is the unemployment of young men, which has doubled in the last 15 years.

Money and Programs Can’t Provide Existential Meaning

Clearly, many Americans are stressed out—economically, emotionally, and psychologically. But what ails America cannot be remedied with just money or counselling. A genuine cure must include cultural revival in which religious communities come alongside individuals and families to reweave the frayed ends of broken relationships. Empirical research demonstrates that religion contributes to individual and societal prosperity. In his book, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” J.D. Vance shows how religion can help generate holistic flourishing.

Like Cash’s story, Vance’s memoir brings to life the statistics about divorce, domestic violence, and drug addiction. He credits his own upward trajectory to acquiring “social capital.” Through personal networks, he learned “soft skills” like conflict resolution and financial management that fueled his upward mobility. He cited both the military and churches as critical institutions that form social capital.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber’s research has demonstrated a causal connection between children’s church attendance and their ability to stay off drugs and out of prison. After analyzing religious attendance, Gruber also observed an “incredibly strong correlation” with higher education, more stable marriages, higher income, and lower likelihood of being on welfare. A study at Harvard showed that those who attend religious services at least once a week are five times less likely to commit suicide.

A Commitment to Morality Increases Social Trust

The role of faith in preventing and treating opioid addiction is increasingly evident. New Hampshire and West Virginia present a contrast in addiction and religiosity. New Hampshire confounds purely economic explanations of addiction, since it has both high employment and high addiction. It doesn’t fit in well with mainstream media narratives, but states like West Virginia, Utah, and those in the Deep South have both high levels of religiosity and low levels of addiction.

As the Trump administration builds a strategy to combat this public health emergency affecting 21 million Americans, it should consider not only criminal punishments and opioid alternatives, it should also take into account the empirical evidence of faith’s role as seen in the states. Similar to Gruber’s observations about faith’s effects in the lives of individual Americans, a Chinese economist saw faith’s effects on business transactions in America’s national economy. Zhao Xiao traces America’s prosperity back to the Puritans.

He sees a relationship between their transcendental motives and a high degree of personal integrity, which generated trust and minimized friction in economic transactions. Zhao’s research has influenced policymakers in the Chinese Communist Party, who are increasingly emphasizing the role of morality in fostering trust.

Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen also attributes America’s economic success to civic virtues religious communities teach, such as obedience to the law, respect for private property, and honesty. While earlier generations created the cultural momentum that led to American prosperity, Christensen warns that momentum is dissipating as religious belief wanes: “If you take away religion, you can’t hire enough police”

Religion Is Important for a Thriving Country

The importance of personal virtue for society is something Vance takes seriously. He urges Americans to incorporate cultural causes into our discussions of the structural factors that contribute to poverty. When individuals feel hopeless, marriages dissolve, and children get caught up in families’ breakdown, government solutions are not enough to make up the difference. Religious communities, however, are there when life falls apart.

Just how critical are religious organizations to the fabric of American life? Religious networks provide $161 billion in medical services annually. Religious schools and colleges provide $138 billion in education. Religious charities contribute $95.2 billion, religious businesses $438 billion, and religious congregations $326 billion. Eliminate religious organizations, and Americans would lose $1.2 trillion in services.

Communities also benefit greatly from partnerships between government and religious groups. Consider the relief efforts needed to deal with natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Nonprofits provide 80 per cent of recovery efforts, and they are mostly faith-based. But faith is equally as powerful in less visible day-to-day interactions. In Gadsden County, Florida, partnerships between faith leaders and city officials have transformed programs in women’s prisons and schools.

In the words of the town sheriff, “We cannot incarcerate our way out of crime. When all else fails, you sometimes have to appeal to the spiritual side of offenders.” Local churches in Gadsden send members to teach inmates the Bible and life skills. Other churches help find jobs and housing for newly released inmates. Gadsden County’s story is one of countless examples showing the “spiritual capital” that religion provides on top of its tremendous economic value—more than that of Facebook, Google, and Apple combined, according to the research of Brian Grim.

Faith Provides Private Accountability We All Need

Faith infuses lives with greater meaning, and faith communities help us make and keep wise commitments. They help us to stay engaged in the lives of our spouses, children, and friends. They help us to stay in school and at jobs when we might prefer to quit. Most of us are more likely to keep commitments when others help. But this kind of accountability, which requires face-to-face contact over a long period of time, is not something the government is well-equipped to provide.

Religious communities help parents raise their children. They provide counseling to individuals while they are dating, after they get married, and even when they lose a spouse. They provide assistance, loans, and job contacts to those who are unemployed. And they are a source of encouragement and hope for people desperate to stay out of addiction.

The American Dream is still alive, but it needs renewal. Government can help. But it takes communities of faith to fully rebuild what has been broken and to restore hope where it’s been lost.

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crisis, culture, economy, ethics, family, ideology, religion, study, unintended consequences

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No, Jesus Would Not Kill Babies In The Womb

original article: No, Willie Parker, Jesus Would Not Kill Babies In The Womb
May 18, 2017 by Sean Nolan

In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Willie Parker says he believes “that as an abortion provider, [he is] doing God’s work.” It’s his Christian faith, the author contends, that drives him to abort babies. His “Life’s Work” (as his new book is ironically titled) is to end life for every preborn child that comes before him.

With the release of his book he is quickly becoming a hero and would-be martyr of abortionists, as they conveniently neglect the facts to make their case. As a self-identifying Christian, African-American, and feminist, he’s the perfect candidate to be the face of abortion advocacy.

Christianity’s Objections to Abortion Are Unyielding

Parker’s self-identifying as a Christian is a dream come true for abortionists. Anything they can do to imply Jesus was sympathetic to their cause builds hope that they can tip the scales in their favor. Hence the inclusion of this laughable line: “remember that conservative Christianity’s ferocious opposition to abortion is relatively new in historical terms.”

Remember, this is The New York Times, not The Onion, neglecting the scores of information highlighting the opposite case. One of the earliest Christian documents, The Didache, explicitly prohibits abortion. But overlook that fact because it’s inconvenient.

Historic Christianity has a long tradition of opposing abortion. The first Christians in Rome were also known to rescue abandoned children and take upon themselves the burden of raising them. That one could claim to represent Jesus, who came to offer abundant life, by helping “desperate women” to snuff out the life in their wombs is doublespeak right from the pages of “1984.” Jesus’ own mother, Mary, would’ve been a prime candidate for abortion as a “desperate” and unmarried woman who had faced ridicule for her pregnancy. Instead, the Bible calls her womb “blessed.”

The author correctly, but misleadingly, mentions the Bible’s silence on the issue. While the Bible doesn’t mention abortion by name, even a first-year seminary student would be quick to point out that some of the central claims of Christianity are not taught explicitly in Scripture, but rather made by inference. Chief of these is the orthodox belief in the Trinity, a word never used in the Bible but taught overwhelmingly by implication. We can add abortion to this list.

The Jewish people, some of whom later became the first Christians, were to avoid partaking in the practices of the surrounding peoples, who sacrificed their children to appease their gods. Christians have long held that to abort one’s child as an act of worship to the gods of convenience is not permitted by the God of the Bible. But abortion advocates will attempt to play the “he’s a Christian” card by spinning opposition from Christians to imply Parker is persecuted within his own faith tradition.

So, Do Black Lives Matter?

The second thing abortion elites love about Parker is his skin color. Any opposition he faces from white pro-lifers not associated with Christianity can be easily dismissed as bigotry. Sweep under the rug for a minute that even black celebrities are accusing abortion providers in black communities of genocide. While Planned Parenthood’s media arm proclaims support of black lives, its other arm is reaching for a pair of forceps to end life for hundreds of black babies each day.

In the shortest chapter of his book, Parker dismisses any notion that aborting black babies is a conflict of interest. His argument is that white pro-lifers are seeking to impoverish black women by forcing them to raise kids they can’t afford. He has convinced himself that he is helping his fellow African-Americans by freeing them from the responsibilities of parenting.

In the tradition of the black slave owners in the Confederate South, Parker makes his money by breaking the backs (or spines and what-have-you) of others, many of whom share his skin color. He can’t admit that his work (some have called it his “ministry”) hurts his own people or it’d affect his bottom line. Abortion advocates want us all to simply accept that black lives only matter once they’ve had the privilege of being born. This brings us to the final contradiction of Parker’s platform.

Fighting For Women, Or Against Them?

Parker considers himself a feminist. He believes he is bettering the future for females. Don’t think too long about the number of female lives he’s ended before they’ve begun. This is nothing new to the insane logic of abortion advocacy. If they can successfully shift our attention off the rights of the life inside the womb to the perceived “rights” the pregnant woman has over her inhabited womb, they’ve succeeded.

If we value the lives of women, we must value the lives of all women, whether they have been born or not. That is where Parker’s feminism, and the majority of what is called feminism today, makes a glaring omission. Their interest is simply in women having the right to sex without consequence.

The New York Times article concludes with a strong appeal to our emotions. Shouldn’t a 12-year-old-girl whose father raped her be permitted to abort her child? Those who advocate for life do so for all people, including those who are raped (who often regret aborting) and the children that are conceived as a result of such rape.

Unplanned pregnancy has affected my own family. No doubt it’d make our lives more convenient to have one less mouth to feed and one less diaper to change. But we believe our lives are just one among many and we don’t have the right to infringe upon the lives of others, even if we’re responsible for bringing them into the world.

Parker’s public persona is a farce. He parades the myth that he has a moral responsibility to “help women” while he strips them of their own responsibility to the children they’ve conceived. Christianity places value upon the lives of black women, so much so that it envisions a world in which their lives aren’t ended in the womb. But maybe we’re the ones who are deceiving pregnant women? Perhaps we’re the ones getting rich by volunteering with crisis pregnancy centers and giving away free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and diapers.

Oh, that’s right, it’s Parker’s bank account that grows every time a woman “chooses” abortion. The unsung heroes whose faith drives them to volunteer in crisis pregnancy centers make costly sacrifices to love their neighbors, even when those little neighbors’ own parents aren’t sure if they want to commit to parenthood. But go ahead, Willie, tell yourself you’re loving your neighbors by making sure their hopes for the future die along with the children in their wombs.

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Replace the word ‘Bible’ with any other Holy book and this Professor would be fired

original article: Audio: student forced to stop reading Bible before class
April 27, 2017 by Anthony Gockowski

A Northern Arizona University student was recently asked to stop reading his Bible prior to the start of one of his classes.

Northern Arizona University student was recently asked to stop reading his Bible prior to the start of one of his classes, according to audio obtained by Campus Reform.

In a recording of the February incident, provided to Campus Reform by Kevin Cavanaugh for Congress, Mark Holden explains the situation to History Department Chair Derek Heng, who had been called in by the instructor, Dr. Heather Martel, after Holden had refused her request that he put his Bible away.

Holden tells Heng that he had arrived early to his U.S. history course and, as usual, used the spare time to read his Bible, but claims that Martel had objected to the routine because she didn’t want to see a Bible in front of her.

“So Prof. Martel says that she doesn’t want you sitting in front of her because you put, you know, a Bible out, right?” Heng can be heard explaining to Holden, adding that while he doesn’t “know what the dynamics [are] going on in the classroom,” the “real key is to make sure that, you know, the class is able to go on and that you are in the classroom.”

“So she doesn’t want me in the front because I have my Bible out?” Holden responded for clarification, to which Heng responded by inquiring as to why Holden had his Bible out in the first place.

[RELATED: College argues that preaching the Gospel is ‘fighting words’]

“No, I think she, I mean, well why do you have your Bible out anyway?” Heng asked, with Holden clarifying that he was “just reading before class” and that the class hadn’t “even started yet.”

Nonetheless, and despite Holden’s protestations that class wasn’t going to begin for “another five minutes,” Heng concluded the conversation by again asking Holden if he would put his Bible away.

“So, will you, will you, will you, put your Bible away?” he asks, to which Holden replies that he always puts his Bible away once class begins, stating that he only reads the Bible “before class” and always makes sure to stow it away “before class starts.”

[RELATED: Clemson evicts man for praying outside free-speech zone]

Prior to the Bible altercation, Holden had been accused by Martel of violating the school’s policy on disruptive classroom behavior for an encounter in which Holden challenged Martel’s views on cultural assimilation.

Holden told Campus Reform that he had cited news reports about two Muslim immigrants who erected a sign declaring that the Koran gives them the right to commit rape, saying he used it as an example of a case in which cultural assimilation might be desirable.

According to an email that Martel sent to Holden explaining the violation, Holden had allegedly interrupted the class multiple times and “made a scene,” only stopping after a classmate intervened.

“Then you raised your hand for most of the rest of class. When I acknowledged that I saw your hand but stated we would be hearing from your classmates instead as you had already had your input, you said in a loud voice: ‘You work for me. I pay your salary,’” Martel alleged in the email, though neither she nor Heng responded to Campus Reform’s requests for elaboration on the matter.

Martel then sent out a second email about the altercation, not just to Holden but to the entire class, outlining “steps to re-instate [sic] civility in the classroom” and declaring emphatically that “hate speech” would not be tolerated.

[RELATED: Criticizing Sharia is ‘hate speech,’ Georgetown students say]

“It’s a systemic problem, not just at this university, but across the United States in the restriction of free speech,” Holden told Campus Reform, revealing that he eventually withdrew from Martel’s class.

As Holden sees it, most college professors are “pushing an ideology on students and any opposition to this is refuted and slashed.” While there may exist students “who want to speak up,” they don’t “feel that they can because of fear about their grades,” he elaborated, noting that conservative-leaning professors face similar concerns in relation to keeping their jobs.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Casey Mattox weighed in on the matter, telling Campus Reform that “public universities are supposed to serve as a marketplace of ideas, and Christian students are not second class citizens on their tax-funded campuses.”

“By singling out a student’s religious views for discriminatory treatment a professor not only violates the First Amendment, but also disserves the very purpose of a university,” he added.

Campus Reform contacted both Martel and Heng, offering them the opportunity to address Holden’s characterization of the events and offer their own perspectives, but neither responded in time for publication.

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Christian parents, your kids aren’t equipped to be public school missionaries

original article: Matt Walsh: Christian parents, your kids aren’t equipped to be public school missionaries
April 3, 2017 by Matt Walsh

A concerned parent sent me this. It’s the school newspaper for Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church, Virginia. Among the other hard hitting pieces of journalism targeted at children, ages 11-13, is an article on “transgender rights.”

The article explains how Obama “improved the lives of transgender people by fighting the discrimination against them,” but all of that is now in jeopardy because of President Trump. The next article delves into the intricacies and wonders of various forms of gender identity, including “transgenderism,” “non-binary,” “bigender,” “agender,” “demigender,” “genderfluid,” and “genderflux.” I’m obviously more innocent and naive than the typical middle schooler these days, so I’d never even heard of some of these. For anyone else who may be curious, here’s how the last three types of genders are explained to an audience of pre-pubscent kids:

Demigender: Demigender refers to people who partially identify as one gender. Demigender people may also identify as partially a different gender. Examples include demigirl, or someone who partially identifies as a girl; demiboy, or someone who partially identifies as a boy; demiagender, meaning someone who identifies as partially agender; and more broadly, deminonbinary, or someone who just partially identifies as nonbinary. 

Genderfluid and Genderflux: Genderfluid refers to someone whose gender changes between any of the above categories. For example, someone may feel female one day, male another day, and agender the next day. Similarly, genderflux refers to someone whose gender changes in intensity. This typically means that someone’s gender will fluctuate between agender and a different gender, which could be binary or nonbinary. For example, someone might sometimes feel completely female, sometimes demigender, and sometimes agender.

Did you get all that?

Someone can partially not have a gender, while the other part of them has three genders, and the third part is a futon. These are the notions being implanted in our kids’ heads in their public schools. The average 7th grader in America may not be able do basic arithmetic without a calculator or name the Allied Powers during WW2 or understand the difference between “there” and “their,” but you can bet he’ll be able to identify 112 different genders and explain them in terms explicit enough to make a grown man blush.

If we have not yet reached a point where a mass exodus from the public schools is warranted, when will that point arrive? Are we waiting until they start bringing in nude hermaphrodites to teach sex ed? I suppose even that wouldn’t be enough incentive for some of us. “I can’t shield my kid from what’s going on out there!” “Be in the world, not of the world!” “Naked she-males are a part of life! I can’t keep him in a bubble forever! He’s 9 years old, for God’s sake!”

Look, I know that public school may really be the only option for some people. There are single parents of little economic means who find themselves backed into a corner where government education appears to be the only choice. And if a parent can’t or won’t homeschool, a private Christian education can be prohibitively expensive. Not only that, but some Christians schools are as bad as, or worse than, the average public school. Abandoning the public school system is not an easy thing, and it presents many hurdles that, right now, may be impossible for some people to get over. The collapse of the family unit, not to mention our recent economic woes, have contributed to creating a dependence on public education. Not everyone can break free all at once, I realize.

But we should certainly all agree, at this point, that public school is not an option for those of us who have another feasible option. We should agree that public school is a matter of last resort and necessity. We should agree that public education is inherently hostile to true Christian values, and for that reason it is not anywhere close to the ideal environment for our kids. We should agree on these points. But we still don’t, incredibly.

I had this discussion on Twitter recently, and it prompted several emails from Christian parents who appear to believe that kids should still be sent to public school, even if there are other valid options available. They suggested that, somehow, the sort of madness outlined above could present faith-affirming opportunities for our children, and we would actually be depriving them of something if we did not give them access to those opportunities. They claimed that public school is a “mission field” where our kids can be “salt and light” to their friends. They said that it’s not fair to our kids or our communities if we “shelter” them. They suggested that somehow it’s our children’s duty to minister to the pagan hordes. They said that “the system” needs our kids.

A few responses to this rather confused point of view:

First of all, “the system needs our kids” is just a weird and creepy statement. It reminds me of something someone would say on Black Mirror or the Twilight Zone. Here’s the truth about “the system”: It’s not my job to give it what it needs. Even less is it my kid’s job. There’s nothing in the Bible that says we must dedicate ourselves to maintaining a government-run education system at any cost. My first responsibility is to my family, not to the community or the school system or my kid’s classmates. I will never put the interests of “the system” above that of my own children. Whether “the system” lives or dies is not my concern. My family is my concern. I have an obligation to them, not to the local superintendent.

Second, anyway, if I did put my kids in “the system” for the sake of “the system,” I’m not the one making the sacrifice. I’m forcing my kids to make it. At least face what you’re doing. When it comes down to it, the burden of public schooling is something your child will have to shoulder, not you.

Third, yes, my kids will eventually be exposed to all kinds of strange and terrible things. As much as I’d like to keep them shielded from the evils of the world forever, I know that I can do no such thing. The question is not whether our kids will be exposed to this or that depravity, but when and how and in what context? Are you prepared to trust the school’s judgment on when Junior is ready to learn about concepts like “transgenderism”? Do you trust their judgment on how he learns about it, and what he’s told about it? If you do, I suppose you aren’t even reading this post right now because you’ve been in a vegetative state for the past 30 years.

Fourth, when a kid is sent to public school, he’s expected to navigate and survive and thrive in a hostile, confusing, amoral environment, basically untethered from his parents, 6–8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months a year, for 12 years. Is a child ready for that challenge by the time he’s 5 years old? Is he ready at 8? At 10? No. Our job as parents is to “train them up in the way they should go,” equip them with the armor of God, fortify them in the truth, and then release them into the world. That process has not been completed in conjunction with them first learning how to tie their shoes. I mean, for goodness’ sake, most adults can’t even manage to withstand the hostilities and pressures of our fallen world for that amount of time. And we expect little kids to do it? That’s not fair to them. It’s too much to ask. Way too much. They aren’t equipped, they aren’t ready, they aren’t strong enough, and they will get eaten alive.

Let’s take just this one example of the gender insanity. Our kids, in public school, will be in a world where concepts like “transgenderism” and “demigenderism” are normal, healthy, cool, and rational. They’ll be in a world where even recognizing basic biological realities is considered bigoted and oppressive. They will be in this environment literally from their first day in kindergarten. Can a child spend his entire young life in such an atmosphere and emerge on the other end with his head still on straight? It’s possible, I suppose, but you’ve never had to do that. I didn’t have to do that. I went to public school, but it wasn’t as bad as it is now. So I would be asking my kids to live up to a spiritual and mental and moral challenge that I myself have never endured, and I’ll be asking them to do it every day for 12 years, starting sometime around their 5th birthday.

Not fair. Just not fair.

Fifth, related to the last point, your child is not ready to be a missionary. He cannot be a “witness” to others until he himself has been properly formed in the faith. It’s no surprise that most of the young “missionaries” we commission and send forth to minister to the lost souls in public schools quickly become one of the lost souls. We don’t need to sit around theorizing about whether the missionary approach to education is wise or effective. We already know that it isn’t. The vast majority of the parents who think their kids are being “salt and light” to their peers in school are simply oblivious to the fact that their little Bible warriors have long since defected and joined the heathens. You can hardly blame the kids for this. They’re just kids, after all. They aren’t warriors. Warriors are trained and disciplined. Children are neither of those things. I imagine this is why St. Paul didn’t travel to Athens and Corinth recruiting toddlers to help him carry the Gospel into pagan lands.

Education is supposed to prepare a child to carry the torch of truth.  That is, he’s supposed to be ready to carry it once his education has been completed. This should not be a “throw them into the deep end to see if they can swim” strategy. They can’t swim. You and I can barely swim, morally and spiritually speaking, and we’re adults. Do you expect your child to be more spiritually mature and morally courageous than you?

Now, I do fully believe, ultimately, that our job is to be lights in the darkness. I make that very argument in the last chapter of my book:

All I know is that God put us here to be lights in the darkness, and however dark it gets, our mission does not change. Dostoevsky wrote that stars grow brighter as the night grows darker. So the good news is that we have the opportunity to be the brightest stars for Christ that the world has ever seen, because we may well live through its darkest night. 

But a flame must first be lit, stoked, and protected before it is the bright, raging fire that we all must be if we expect to survive in this culture. Our children’s education is supposed to facilitate that process, not interfere with it. Our children should be fires for Christ because of their education, not in spite of it. We can’t compartmentalize the “spiritual” part of their upbringing, reserve it for evenings and weekends, and allow the lion’s share of their educational experience to be dominated by humanism, hedonism, and godlessness. Education is not supposed to work that way. And it doesn’t really work at all that way, as we’ve seen. Or, if it does work, it is only in cases where the child possesses an almost superhuman level of maturity, intelligence, and moral courage. And maybe some children really are almost superhuman in that way. But most of them aren’t, yours probably aren’t, and you probably aren’t. That’s just the reality of the situation, and we have to deal with it. I find it ironic that so many parents who expect their children to “face the realities of the world” have not faced it themselves.

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Some Muslim countries want UN to crack down on online “blasphemy”

original article: Muslim countries to raise online sacrilege at UN
March 26, 2017 by Tariq Butt

ISLAMABAD: A meeting of ambassadors of the Islamic countries with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the chair has decided to raise the issue of blasphemous content on social media in the United Nations.

The meeting was convened by the interior minister on one-point agenda i.e. to discuss the blasphemous content on the social media and how to effectively raise voice of the entire Muslim world against the madness unleashed against Islam and holy personalities in the name of freedom of expression.

There was unanimity among the participants that the entire Muslim Ummah is united to protect the sanctity and dignity of the religion and Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

It was decided that a comprehensive strategy paper encompassing all legal and technical aspects would be circulated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs among the ambassadors of the Muslim countries which they would be sharing with their governments to evolve the future plan of action.

FORMAL REFERENCE

It was also decided that a formal reference would be sent to Secretary General of the Arab League (AL) and Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), raising the issue of blasphemous content on social media and how such a tendency had been hurting the sentiments of the Muslims across the world.

The meeting decided that after response is received from the governments of Islamic countries, the matter would be taken up at the level of United Nations besides looking into legal options available to follow up the matter legally in the courts of the respective countries from where such content was being generated.

The interior minister pointed out that distortion of religious beliefs and sacrilege of holy personalities of any religion is intolerable. He said that no law permits showing disrespect or distortion of any religion.

BIGGEST VICTIMS

He said it was unfortunate that the Muslims, being the biggest victims of terrorism, were being portrayed as the perpetrators. He said the Islamic Ummah must strive together to impress upon the international community to shed off Islamophobia. The minister said that distortion of any religion is also another form of terrorism that the international community must acknowledge.

He said that sections of the Western world must get out of double standards about Islam and the Muslims. On the one hand, they have laws against any kind of distortion or disrespect towards any religion and, on the other hand, the most revered personalities of Islam are being ridiculed.

The ambassadors appreciated the minister’s initiative for highlighting the issue and taking a lead role towards finding a solution to the issue. They agreed in principle with the strategy identified by the interior minister.

The ambassadors and envoys present the meeting represented UAE, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Qatar, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Palestine, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Maldives and Brunei Darus Salam.

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Liberal Fascism Is What Happens Once People Think God Is Dead

original article: Liberal Fascism Is What Happens Once People Think God Is Dead
March 27, 2017 by Sethu A. Iyer

Before the recent presidential election, I did not think of myself as a conservative. But after seeing the Left’s unhinged reaction, I realized I was definitely anti-progressive. My own studies and reflections had left me well-equipped to spot a religious cult when I saw one, and I had no doubt that progressives are just such a thing.

The content of every religious mind may be different, but the structure of religious thinking is always the same. Here are a few ways progressives have filled traditional categories for themselves:

God: History—they think they’re on the “right” side of it.
Dogmas: identity politics; there are more than two genders, et cetera.
Apocalyptic prophecy: climate change.
Inquisition: political correctness.
Antichrist: Donald Trump, who is taken to be evil by definition.
Excommunication: disagree, and you will be cut off forever.

Clearly, there is nothing secular about progressivism. Look under the veneer of pseudo-scientific language, and you’re left staring at a fanatically religious mindset. How did we get here?

The So-Called Death of God

The last couple centuries of the Western world have witnessed the decline of old-fashioned religion. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, in his work “The Gay Science” (gay as in happy, not homosexual), saw this and infamously proclaimed “God is dead.” It is often forgotten that he also added, “For we have killed him.” The main point was that the traditional idea of God had ceased to play a central role in both people’s minds and the structures of modern society.

Of course, Nietzsche’s proclamation is primarily figurative. If there is a God, then he did not just drop down dead sometime in the 1800s. Likewise, even for a believer today, God is still alive and well. The accurate fact contained in Nietzsche’s statement, though, is that Western culture as a whole was going through a sea change.

But the human soul may not be as malleable as a lot of people these days are given to think. If God lived within the soul until the day before yesterday, then it stands to reason that he left an empty space when he went away. This has consequences. To paraphrase the late and great David Foster Wallace: everyone worships; it is not a question of whether, but rather a question of what. If a person doesn’t know what he worships—if he believes that God is dead, and that’s the end of the story—then he will just become very susceptible to getting driven from behind his back by impulses he can never understand.

In a way, people can’t live without their gods. If they abandon one god, they merely move on to another, even if surreptitiously. This helps explain the religious drive at the bottom of progressivism. Moreover, I would suggest that after giving up on a god of truth, the progressives, with a kind of tragic inevitability, moved toward a god of power, whose altar at which they now worship.

The Grand Inquisitor

It may well be appropriate to grant Fyodor Dostoevsky the title of prophet. In the chapter of his masterwork, “The Brothers Karamazov,” known as “The Grand Inquisitor,” he explains exactly what’s going on here. In this story, the Inquisitor and his church have established a society that has reduced the vast majority of folk to a state of sheep-like serfdom. The Inquisitor believes this has been done for the people’s own good: he thinks they cannot handle liberty, and are so much happier being treated like children, never having to make one real decision.

Then in walks a figure who seems to be Christ returned. The Inquisitor has him arrested, then proceeds to interrogate him in private. During the entire encounter, Christ doesn’t say a single word. He merely looks on with compassion, as the Inquisitor raves about why abolishing freedom was the right thing to do. This is perhaps the most memorable passage that departs from the Inquisitor’s lips:

“You did not want to enslave man by a miracle and thirsted for faith that is free, not miraculous. You thirsted for love that is free, and not for the servile raptures of a slave    before a power that has left him permanently terrified. . . . Respecting him less, you          would have demanded less of him, and that would be closer to love, for his burden would be lighter. He is weak and mean.”

With these words, the Inquisitor reveals what his church’s dark game is really about. He says they’re moved by love for the common man, whereas they are in reality moved by contempt for the common man. He says they are acting in the name of truth, when they are in fact acting only in the name of power. In short, the Inquisitor and his church had accepted the third temptation of Christ in the desert: when the Devil said Christ could rule all the kingdoms of the world, if only he would fall down and worship the Devil.

Fascism and Romance

The god of truth is not the same as the gods of power. When the god of truth takes his leave, man will almost necessarily try to fill this hole in his soul with a god of power. Just about every decent person knows there’s something wrong with this world. But there are two fundamentally different ideas of how to actually make change happen. The first can be called fascism, and the second can be called romance.

As Jonah Goldberg ofNational Review has made clear, progressives have spiritually and historically always had a deep affinity with fascism. (This is fascism meant in a literal way: an actual ideological mindset, not just a vague slur against things we don’t like.) The original fascist fallacy consists of loving ideas more than people: real persons, in all their messiness, folly, sin, and freedom. Fascism is always about using power—of the state, or coercion more generally—to control people, change what they are, make them new. The one concept that never enters this picture is the primordial freedom of the individual.

It’s the exact opposite with romance. By romance, I mean a focus on the actual, living person, in all his or her sadness and confusion and beauty and glory. Friendship and romantic love are the main avenues through which most folk learn to see things in this way: a way that is ultimately rooted, in my view, in the vision of the Lord himself as a specific, individual man. When you see the intrinsic value of every individual person, whole categories of action become no longer possible. That includes the entire fascist approach to the transformation of the world.

At the end of “The Grand Inquisitor,” Christ still says nothing. He merely gives the Inquisitor a Russian kiss, and the Inquisitor breaks down. He tells Christ to leave, leave, and never show his face there again. The Inquisitor knows he has been defeated by a power greater than himself. He knows that for all his pretty words, he actually doesn’t care about people at all. He actually hates real persons, just as Christ loved them. Christ wanted true freedom for all, because that’s the only revolution that will ever really matter.

So Here We Are

You don’t need to call the god of truth by any one name in order to understand that truth and power are at odds with each other. Inquisitor versus Christ is one poetically powerful way to see the matter; but call it what you will, the conflict still exists.

The original fascist fallacy consists of loving ideas more than people.

Progressives have clearly fallen for what Goldberg has identified as the totalitarian temptation—the desire to remake the world through the fiat of raw power, as opposed to doing what it takes to awaken real living freedom within human souls. They have gone for fascism over romance. Insofar as America is an essentially romantic nation, this also means they have bet against the American spirit.

They have done this because they have tried, badly, to fill the god-shaped hole within their souls. Every man worships, even if he doesn’t know what. The progressives have thrown their lots in with the gods of power. Instead of believing in Christ and his vision, they have aligned themselves with the Inquisitor. Human nature says this is exactly what will happen when people have convinced themselves that the Lord of Truth is dead.

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Muslim professor challenges Christianity, student responds and gets suspended

original article: Christian student suspended after challenging Muslim prof’s claim that Jesus wasn’t crucified
March 27, 2017 by WILLIAM NARDI

A student says he was suspended from Rollins College for challenging his Muslim professor’s anti-Christian assertions, including her claim that Jesus’ crucifixion never took place.

Twenty-year-old Marshall Polston, a sophomore at the private, Florida-based four-year college, said that the professor of his Middle Eastern Humanities class also told students that Jesus’ disciples did not believe he was God.

Polston, an avid traveler and self-described Christian, has toured the Middle East and is familiar with the Muslim culture.

“Honestly, it reminded me of some of the more radical groups I researched when abroad,” Polston told the Central Florida Post about his professor’s comments on Jesus.

“Whether religious or not, I believe even those with limited knowledge of Christianity can agree that according to the text, Jesus was crucified and his followers did believe he was divine… that he was ‘God,’” he continued. “Regardless, to assert the contrary as academic fact is not supported by the evidence.”

Polston, in a message to The College Fix on Saturday, said he stands behind his assertions in the Post article. He said he is upset he was suspended and has hired an attorney.

“Our university should be a place where free-speech flashes and ideas can be spoken of without punishment or fear of retribution,” Polston told The College Fix. “In my case it was the total opposite. … I came forward with the story because I know so many other students like me suffer under today’s liberal academic elite.”

The professor, Areej Zufari, as well as a campus spokesperson, could not be reached by The College Fix late Sunday. However, the Central Florida Post reports that it tried numerous times to obtain comment from Rollins College and Professor Zufari to no avail.

Polston claims the situation began after he challenged Zufari’s assertions about Jesus and his disciples. Polston said this challenge led Zufari to file a complaint with a campus dean, claiming he made her feel “unsafe.”

Next, Polston received a 52 percent on a major essay.

“I was upset, understandably. I’ve never gotten anything less than straight A’s, so I was really interested in figuring out how to possibly improve or at least understand the grade,” Polston told the Post.

On another day during the course, Zufari led a discussion about the application of Sharia Law. Polston claims that during this discussion, a male Muslim student said gays and adulterers should be beheaded under Sharia Law.

“I spoke out to the professor about the grade and subsequently the decapitation comments made by the student,” Polston told The Fix. “The statement by the conservative Muslim student met such fear by some that one of the students reported it to the FBI. Later, I was reported by the professor to the dean of campus safety. The situation was surreal. We’ve already had one too many attacks in Orlando and as an avid traveler I realized this was the perfect example of ‘see something, say something.’”

Zufari, for her part, posted on Facebook to the ACLU of Florida, complaining about an unnamed student that is “making my life hell this semester. This one is spewing hatred at me, de-railing class, and just sent me a hateful email threatening me…I want to know if there is a way to hold the individual responsible for his harassment and hate speech. Any ideas? Thank you!”

According to the March 24 suspension letter, Polston’s “actions have constituted a threat of disruption within the operations of the College and jeopardize the safety and well-being of members of the College community and yourself.”

Those alleged actions are not spelled out within the document. Nonetheless, Polston was given strict directions not to set foot on campus or have any contact with Zufari in the letter.

However, claims that Polston violated the terms of his suspension and came to harass the class this past Thursday were lodged. A campus safety report obtained by The College Fix states:

“Student ______ stated to me that she looked out the back glass door of the classroom and saw Mr. Polston staring into the room. He briefly stopped then proceeded on his way. Campus safety was immediately notified and responded at 19:36 hours. A search was conducted but Mr. Polston was not found. Ms. Zufari’s students were upset and did not feel comfortable being in the class. Ms. Zufari dismissed her class early at 20:07 hours.”

Polston has completely refuted these claims, however, offering video footage of his whereabouts — at a restaurant over a half-hour away from the school.

As for Rollins College, this isn’t the first time its officials have acted unfavorably toward Christian students.

In 2013, college officials kicked a Christian group off of campus for their conservative beliefs and threatened to pull funding from Christian student groups that would not allow non-Christian students to be in the club’s leadership. Later that year students were told that they could not hold private Bible studies in their dorm rooms, Fox News reported.

UPDATE: Polston reinstated after Muslim professor’s claims debunked by Rollins

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Professor measures surprising bias in academia

original article: Professor makes shocking discovery while measuring anti-Christian and political bias in academia
March 22, 2017 by Billy Hallowell

Perhaps the greatest irony of our age is that colleges and universities — the very institutions that are intended to educate and intellectually challenge the masses — oft-times foster environments that are routinely accused of being patently one-sided and biased.

After all, college is intended to be an intensive time of self-exploration — one in which young people are theoretically opened up to the world around them, with diverse perspectives and experiences helping to shape their contextual understandings. Yet, in contrast, higher education today is often a breeding ground for exclusively progressive ideals and values that are masqueraded, paraded, and marketed to young minds as definitive, unadulterated truth, as I extensively document in my new book, “Fault Line: How a Seismic Shift in Culture Is Threatening Free Speech and Shaping the Next Generation.”

Unfortunately, young people are all too often fed this information from left-of-center professors who are injecting their worldview into the classroom with little regard for the need for divergent beliefs in the educational marketplace. Their ideals, presented as truth and many times so filtered that opposing views are either denigrated into silence or ignored entirely, are often pervasive and treated as gospel when in fact they’re nothing more than mere personal opinion.

Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with liberal professors being employed by colleges and universities; what is improper, however, is an environment in which young people are given an imbalanced perspective on key social, political, and international issues or one in which conservative professors are too afraid to share their views with colleagues for fear of reprisal.

Such imbalances create unaccommodating and uncomfortable environments for those who do not share left-of-center perspectives, though the more pervasive and concerning issue is the notion that young, impressionable minds are potentially robbed of the ability to make decisions for themselves, especially when they aren’t presented with a fair assessment of all the available and pertinent information.

Measuring bias

The problem with measuring bias in the classroom, of course, is the fact that so much of what is claimed to have happened is based on anecdotal examples, though such incidents certainly warrant attention and analysis. That said — in addition to statistics that prove that liberal professors far outpace conservative ones — there have been some successful methods used to measure academic bias.

In fact, University of North Texas professor George Yancey has been more than vocal about the overt bias that he sees inherent in university environments, diving deep into that paradigm in an interview for “Fault Line.”

On a broader level, Yancey rejected the claims of some in society who argue that, as a nominal majority, Christians can’t possibly be the victims of discrimination, saying that he has conducted research that proves that these individuals are flat wrong in advancing such contentions.

“I always preface this by saying, ‘I’m not saying that Christians are black. We’re not talking about Jim Crow,’” he told me. “There’s something to the fact that, at least in the past, Christians have been the majority — and maybe they still are in many ways today — but my research shows that if you are a conservative Protestant, you have a distinctive disadvantage going for a job in academia.”

Yancey’s research involved a survey based on a national sample in which he presented professors with 26 potential characteristics and asked how they would react if they found out that a job candidate possessed each descriptor or characteristic. His question essentially asked, “If you found this out about a person, would it make you more or less likely to hire them?”2

In the end, the professor said it became more than clear that the academics surveyed were “definitely less likely” to hire Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals — characteristics that garnered the most negative reactions, even outpacing conservative political persuasions.

“They were less willing to hire Republicans, for example, but that measure was at a much lower rate,” Yancey explained. “That’s why I say conservative Protestants are the ones that academics themselves will tell you, ‘Yes, I’m less likely to hire you if I find out that you’re a conservative Protestant.’” Half of them share this sentiment, as Yancey said. “About half. Obviously not all of them, but about half of them.”

Dire situation

It is those findings that lead Yancey to see roadblocks in academia for those who embrace conservatism and Protestantism, with the professor saying that other research conducted on the matter backs his theories. While some might scoff, Yancey offered up a powerful comparison to showcase the dire nature of the situation.

“If we had that sort of data on any other group—if we had that sort of data on Jews, that almost half of all academics are less likely to hire you if you’re Jewish, no one would argue that anti-Semitism is not costing Jews in the academic world,” he continued. “Really, there’s no real argument that anti-Christian bias is not costing at least conservative Protestants in the academia world.”

In the end, Yancey said that he was surprised by the results. He went into the survey assuming that he would uncover bias, though he initially predicted that it would be more prevalent on political indicators rather than religious. Clearly he was wrong.

With the aforementioned information in mind, it’s easy to see how Christianity, God, and conservative values have been marginalized — and hold the potential to continue to be marginalized — in today’s university system.

What kind of citizens do we want?

At the core of the discussion is an important question, though: If we truly want to raise freethinking citizens who are able to discern and make important life decisions, isn’t it essential that they have all of the available options before them so that they can make the most appropriate and reasonable choices?

This shouldn’t be a radical idea; in fact, it is one that many individuals — both liberal and conservative — have cited. Consider what progressive New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote about this very issue in a May 2016 op-ed. To summarize, Kristof concluded that universities disregard “ideological and religious” diversity. Speaking of the ramifications for such a dynamic, he wrote, “The stakes involve not just fairness to conservatives or evangelical Christians … but also the quality of education itself.”

Kristof pointed to a number of other important values, including the need for liberals to remain open and, thus, “true to their own values.” Additionally, he said a dearth in representation of conservatives and evangelicals negatively impacts the quality of education. With some perspectives not being present at the table, he warned classrooms can become echo chambers and that, in the end, everyone loses as a result.

The columnist went on to cite studies that he said showed clear disparities in professors’ ideological viewpoints, saying that some inquiries have found that just 6-11 percent of humanities professors self-identify as Republican, with just 7-9 percent saying the same in the social sciences. In that latter group, around 18 percent have called themselves Marxists — a fact that led Kristof to conclude that “it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.”

He also offered up a challenge to his fellow liberals: “Maybe we progressives could take a brief break from attacking the other side and more broadly incorporate values that we supposedly cherish — like diversity — in our own dominions.”

The only question now is: Will they heed that advice?

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Educating people about religion by keeping them dumb

original article: CNN religion quiz needs to take Christianity seriously
March 19, 2017 by John Stonestreet

In what has become an annual tradition of television programming claiming to reveal the real Jesus of Nazareth, it seems that CNN is off to an early start. Every Easter season, cable networks fill their lineups with specials featuring biblical and historical experts who often represent only the skeptical side of the longstanding debate about the historical Jesus.

This year, CNN even preempted their special series, “Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery,” with an even stronger than usual dose of their “we will tell you, especially you Christians, what Christianity really is…” attitude towards believers and matters of faith. At CNN.com, all are invited to take a ten-question online promotional quiz entitled, “Do you have faith in your knowledge of Christianity?”

Among the crucially important matters of faith revealed by this little test are what a commune in southwest France serves for the Easter meal, what household items believers in Norway hide from evil spirits, what objects are thrown to celebrate Fat Tuesday in the Belgian town of Binche, which African nation claims to have the Ark of the Covenant, and who the shortest reigning Pontiff was.

In a quiz claiming to test one’s knowledge of Christianity, there is sum total of one question about Jesus Christ (where did He walk on water?). Nothing is asked about Jesus’ birth, words, death or resurrection. There are no questions about the Christian understanding of truth, sin, or salvation. Nothing about Paul or Peter. Nothing about the afterlife. Nothing about the human condition.

In reality, the quiz reveals virtually nothing about one’s knowledge of Christianity. It does, however, reveal much about how CNN and so many secular elites view religion, and the blind spot that clouds their thinking:: that secularists are just as much people of faith as the faithful they hope to educate.

For secularists who tend to see religion as little more than a cultural artifact of a world fast slipping away, the sort of obscure questions asked in the CNN.com quiz makes sense. Religious truth claims, in this view, only reflect the irrational beliefs of people hanging onto traditions from a time before omniscient science and enlightened reason. Religion describes only what people believe and do. It does not, and cannot, describe the world as it is.

In a recent presentation to the employees at Google, Tim Keller of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church called this view of religion “simplistic and naive.” First, the world – when one looks outside of Europe and North America – is getting more, not less, religious. To suggest the opposite is a statement of cultural imperialism. Second, if secularists are right about God – that He doesn’t exist – then the universe and everything that exists, including our brains, resulted from natural, mindless processes. If this is really our story, than how can we substantiate our faith in human reason? Third, and this is critical, our faith in human reason is just that: faith. The statement that all things must be proven by reason to be true is an assumption we make that itself is not provable by reason. If embraced, it is taken by faith.

None of this is to say that secularism is false and Christianity is true. Both secularism and Christianity make claims about the world we live in, about human nature, and about God. Both secularists and Christians, as Keller went on to demonstrate, rely on reason and faith in investigating and offering explanations about the world we experience.

Too many brilliant people, after investigating Christian truth claims in light of their own existential struggles, have embraced faith for it to be cavalierly dismissed. Atheists like Anthony Flew, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and C.S. Lewis came to believe that the intricate design and stubborn persistence of moral norms we see in the universe were best explained by the existence of a Higher Power. Skeptics like Lee Strobel and Malcolm Muggeridge found that there was far more to this Jesus of Nazareth and the historical evidence of His resurrection than typically presented in the annual network specials.

Christianity, like all belief systems, certainly deserves to be investigated and scrutinized. No one settle for an unexamined faith. But, by all means, it deserves to be taken seriously.

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