Posts Tagged ‘Culture Wars’

“Strange, last night in Lakemba in Sydney’s west a hate-preacher of Islam was telling a small crowd about how evil Australia is and how it must come under seventh-century sharia law. There were no protestors there. There were no crowds seeking to drown out his voice. There were no demos.

But here we had 7000 people who simply wanted to show their love and concern for the unborn, and we have these screaming banshees treating us as if we were a bunch of Nazis. Go figure. Their signs said it all really. One large sign held high by a very angry young man actually said this: “THE ONLY GOOD BABY IS A DEAD BABY!”

I kid you not. There were other equally appalling signs, such as “Cory Bernardi is a failed abortion”. The anger, rage and diabolical ugliness of these protestors was really something to behold. These really were manifestations of the demonic.

A large pro-life sign on a truck was spray-painted with graffiti, with words like “racist”. Umm, what does racism have to do with protecting babies? “Smash sexism” was another dopey sign. Again, what does loving babies have to do with sexism? Both male and female babies are horribly killed by abortion.”

via When Love and Hate Collide » Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch.

The hatred of all things Christian is indeed demonic. The horrible venom spewed by those who claim to want tolerance is hypocrisy beyond measure. Darkness always sides with darkness. Immorality cannot produce morality. Whether it be homosexuality, abortion, sexual promiscuity, or any number of immoral activities, one thing is always clear…they will introduce more immorality. They will breed darkness and every evil desire, when carried to their logical ends. We do indeed live in dark days, when evil is called good, and good is labeled as evil. We should be driven to intense prayer for our culture, and we should plead for mercy from a holy God.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

 

Evading the ditches of avoiding the culture, and acquiescing to the culture, is not an easy task.

“So we need some wisdom here on how we deal with evil, and how we motivate others to get involved in resisting such evil. Scripture of course offers us guidelines here. A number of passages could be appealed to, but let me mention just two.

In Ephesians 5:11-12 we find these words: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” Or as the KJV says of v. 12: “it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret”.

But on the other hand we have a passage like this: “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Being aware of the schemes of the enemy is important as we engage in not only spiritual warfare, but in the culture wars and so on as well.

Hiding our heads in the sand as to what is going on around us is not taking our Christian responsibilities seriously to be salt and light. We are to be having a leavening effect on the world around us, and that means taking on evil wherever we find it.

In that sense we need to have some knowledge of it. Just hoping evil will go away, or pretending that it is not there, is not the Christian attitude. To fight evil we must know at least something about it. Plenty of examples from church history come to mind here.”

via See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil » Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams

Please read this article from Breakpoint: Normalizing Pedophilia.

 

 
I remember a very slippery slope when I was a kid. It was winter, and there was a waxed hood of a Frigidaire refrigerator involved. The ride down the hill included limestone outcroppings, frozen cow-patties, a vicious blackberry patch, a cedar tree, and a ten foot drop into an icy creek. The ride down was exhilarating…the sudden stop at the end…not so much. Frozen, broken limbs, and scratched up faces have a tendency to dampen the exhilaration.
 
Wheee
 
That entire scenario reminds me exactly of where this culture is headed. 
 
I think the slippery-slope fallacy needs to be acknowledged, but there are times when the perils of a cultural course demand a begrudging nod. This would be one of those times.
 
This is another example of where carrying an idea to its’ logical end shows the absurdity of the idea, sans the philosopher Zeno.
 
When we confuse moral issues with civil rights issues, the logical conclusion is chaos, and legitimizing immoral behavior.
 
simul iustus et peccator,
 
Eric Adams
Rossville, GA
godsguy12@comcast.net
christianreasons@gmail.com

by Ray Nothstine

Every December cultural warriors mourn the incessant attacks on Christmas and secularism’s rise in society. News headlines carry stories of modern day Herods banning nativity scenes, religious performances, and even the word “Christmas.” Just as a majority of young people profess they will have less prosperity and opportunity than their parents, many people now expect less out of Christmas. Continual bickering over holiday messaging in corporate advertising itself points to a shrinking and limited Christmas.

Yet these problems are signs on the way to important truths, if we have the eyes to see. Record spending and debt, whether in Washington or the home, allude to a society trying to fill an emptiness of the heart. Even our disappointment in poor leadership in America reminds us that we crave a true King and are expectant of a greater day.

Part of the cause of the rise of secularism and a less meaningful Christmas is that we have lost this spirit of expectancy. Advent not only points to preparation for and celebration of the Nativity but also to the second coming of Christ. The New Testament ends with anticipation of Christ’s return: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev 22:20) In their lifetime, the apostles lived in anticipation and excitement for the return of Christ.

What Christmas actually announces to the world offends modern sensibilities. The mystery and depth of the incarnation seems unfathomable. Praising Christmas carols, G.K. Chesterton noted, “It is extraordinary to notice how completely this feeling of the paradox of the manger was lost by the brilliant and ingenious theologians, and how completely it was kept in the Christmas carols. They, at least, never forgot that the main business of the story they had to tell was that the absolute once ruled the universe from a cattle stall.”

Christmas has united much of the world and is responsible for the common identity of the West and its rise out of barbarism. “In adoring the birth of our Savior, we find ourselves celebrating our own nativity; for the birth of Christ is the birth of the Christian people,” declared Leo the Great.

Christmas reminds us of the shortcomings of man and what God has accomplished and done to intercede on our behalf. It’s a reminder of our sinful nature and it’s not simply a great holiday or time of joy for the unrepentant.

While our culture faces new hostilities to the Christmas message, the real culprit is indifference to its greater meaning and a lack of appreciation of its power on the part of believers.  It has always been the task of believers to transcend the secular culture.

Modern Herods, rising secularism, materialism, and a host of political problems may combine to rob Christmas of its meaning, but it’s a futile effort in the face of faithfulness. Unfortunately, many this Christmas will try to fulfill their desires through acquiring more and politicians will promise and spend more in hopes of attaining worldly recognition and building a better society through debt.

But the true gift and hope of the world can only be received and not acquired. That’s the Christmas message. In his beautiful hymn, “Come thou Long Expected Jesus,” Charles Wesley simply called Christ the “desire of every nation” and “joy of every longing heart.” It’s a timeless message and one that is not made less true or powerful by cultural secularism. A world devoured by political failings, materialism, and economic and moral bankruptcy only points to a desire and need for the real Savior. In the words of Isaiah:

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)

via Christmas and Secularism’s Futility | Acton Institute.

The Daily Kos blogging corps is proving to be fertile ground for finding material that helps illustrate what abolitionists are dealing with and up against when it comes to pushing for and bringing about a society that respects human lives for what they are – created in the image of God – and reflects that view of humanity in its laws and its behavior.

The latest offering from the blogger known as Bad Kitties comes to us in the form of An Open Letter to Supporters of Personhood. The tone is strident, fierce, frustrated, and emotional. The letter itself is a combination of so many of the issues that we have already dealt with in our Abolitionist FAQ and sadly Bad Kitties does not advance the argument on those points, so we merely invite the reader to examine our standing rebuttals to her complaints and to consider why it is that abortion proponents so rarely engage abolitionist counterarguments and why, when they do, they fail to make a dent in those rebuttals.

The single most important question in the debate surrounding the justifiability of abortion is this: What is the product of human conception?

If the product of human conception is a human being, then all the same reasons that any of us give for outlawing, preventing, and protecting murder of adults and born children also apply to protecting the fetus (aka preborn child) from anyone who might wish to harm him or her.

If the product of human conception is not a human being, then ending its development requires no more soul-searching or justification than taking an antibiotic, throwing a rock into a river, snacking on a carrot, or removing a wisdom tooth.  It is not a difficult choice. It does not entail sorrow or “deep reflection”. It is not “an issue to be taken seriously”.

I live among neighbors along my street. They are all human beings. What if I could define one or all of them as “non-human” based on nothing more than my arbitrary whim? What if personhood were conferred when I say to myself, “This is my human neighbor”?  Or what if my neighbors are not people until they bring me a plate full of cookies? As a cookie-eater, I know that neighbors have the potential to be people, but until they dish out the cookies, they are not.

Absurd and ridiculous, isn’t it? The humanity or personhood of my neighbors is not dependent on whether they perform a particular action, like cookie-baking or cookie-gifting. Their humanity or personhood is also not dependent on whether I think they have humanity or personhood. No, they possess humanity and personhood for one reason and one reason only – they were created in the image of God.

via The sacred bond between mother and child | Abolitionist Society of Oklahoma.

An excellent post! Please read it…you’ll thank me later.

“Dan Barker’s Freedom from Religion Foundation is immersed in their annual war against all things religious.  That is of course how they view it:  a war.  In this war, they have had quite a few successes, in large part because they realized early on that public sentiment was not on their side.  That is, they could never achieve their goals legislatively.  Their only hope was to turn to the courts, and here the playing field is more to their advantage.  After all, it is easier to persuade one judge or three than it is a million, hundred thousand, etc.

In a guest view posted today in the La Crosse Tribune, Dan Barker comes out in defense of the ‘in your face tactics’ that his organization has been employing.  Basically his argument is this:  religious people have been ridiculing nonbelievers for thousands of years, so turnabout is fair play.  We of course will bear in mind the common view taken by nonbelievers that they are morally superior to believers–the present example a good illustration of how well they ‘rise above’ the bad behavior of religious people… by joining in.

“What is wrong with ridicule?  What is wrong with protest?” Dan Barker wants to know.  “Protestantism is based on protest–it’s right there in the word itself.”  The irony, here of course, is that Dan Barker and his ilk does wish to immunize their viewpoints from public scrutiny and ridicule.  If you raise your voice, even ever so slightly, with a new atheist, you will practically drive them to tears and indignation.  You see, they can be as rude as they like.  Not only must you treat them with extreme politeness, but of course you must give into their every whim in the name of ‘tolerance’ and ‘diversity.’

One searches for the appropriate prism by which to view such attitudes, and I think we have at least our first hint in Barker’s letter.  “To us nonbelievers, the nativity scene is a ridicule of human nature. … Believers might see a cute baby in a manger, but most nonbelievers see a reprehensible put-down of humanity.”

This is akin to the claims often heard that the mere sight of Ten Commandment tablets on public property, or lighted crosses, or whatever, causes them great mental anguish.  Of course, we know the truth:  they need to say such absolutely asinine and ridiculous things in order for their court cases to go forward.  Personally, I doubt very much that they are as effected, but let’s take Barker at his word in this case:  the mere sight of a nativity scene evokes the sense that they are being ridiculed and reprehensibly put-down.

Through what prism should we view such people?  I think we must regard them as being more like children than anything else.  If there is anything that drives children batty, it’s seeing other people enjoying a toy that they themselves cannot have.  If they can arrange it–and bullies have some skill with this–when they get the toy, they will guard it fiercely to keep others from sharing in the pleasure.  In my household, I have seen my own children hide items that they had lost all interest in just so that their siblings couldn’t have them.

Similarly, the mere sight of something that offends a new atheist is enough to drive them batty.  Not content to do what adults learn to do (change the channel, avert their eyes, shop somewhere else, ignore, etc) they’ve got to put a stop to it.  After they’ve put a stop to it, of course they have to make sure that no one else can do the same, even if it doesn’t impact them in the slightest.  I don’t know how else to view this behavior other than childish.

I will now be seen as ‘ridiculing’ them by this characterization.   Well, sometimes the truth hurts.  Mere ridicule is meant to merely hurt.  Telling the truth is meant to convey a benefit.  I do earnestly wish the new atheists would grow up.  After all, if you put children in charge of the operation of heavy machinery, the odds are that someone will soon get very hurt.  However, if someone decides to view it simply as mockery, then I appeal to Dan Barker for my defense:  “What is wrong with ridicule?  What is wrong with protest?”

Another characteristic of children is that they can dish it out, but they can’t take it.   I doubt we’ll see anything in the comment section on this that will prove me wrong in my assessment.  In religion they see a perceived slight, and in response to this perception, they have no qualms against dishing out actual slights.  They expect everyone to be cowed by this, but having been on the receiving end of actual physical threats by new atheists, I assure you, this is one writer that won’t be.

Unfortunately, these children are more canny than most and, again, most unfortunately, have access to ‘heavy machinery.’

Buried in Barker’s screed is an even more pernicious goal that his FFRF has, beyond merely being jerks trying to prove a point:

In America, Christians are welcome to celebrate whatever they want. We are happy to share the season with them. They just can’t use the government to privilege their party over everyone else’s.

[…]

Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property, but in the American public square, there is room at the inn for all of us.

 The idea that putting up nativity scenes or other icons of religion ‘privileges’ religious folks is so absurd that I cannot even believe that we have to take it seriously.  I think it is clear from the foregoing that on the merits, I don’t.  However, the argument and attitude encapsulated in the two quotes above must be taken very seriously because the stakes are very high, indeed.

To explain, allow me to frame it this way.  Every December we have to deal with a bunch of whiny, perpetually offended atheists, chiseling away at all religious expression the public square.   Dan Barker says that ‘there is room at the inn for all of us’, but if he believes that, my regard for his intellect goes even lower than it was.  I think the evidence is that he does not believe that and in fact he is purposefully trying to achieve the opposite.  In Barker’s world, any religious expression in the public square constitutes ‘using the government to privilege one religion over another.’  “Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property” but in FFRF’s conduct we know that they cannot do anything they like outside their churches and off their private property.

By way of example, a slew of atheists filed an amicus brief against Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran School in their attempt to fire someone who flagrantly disregarded the beliefs and values of that institution.  The FFRF is not a signatory (a surprise, honestly) but they are all the same crew.  In the amicus we read:

 Amici wish to bolster the principle of religious neutrality that government may not prefer religion over nonreligion [..] A decision of this Court recognizing the ministerial exception would have the constitutionally impermissible effect of denying equal protection of the laws to the employees of religious organizations and of advancing religion by creating special rights for religious defendants, and in so doing undermine the rule of law.

 You can stop laughing now.  No, really. They actually said that they cared about the ‘rule of law.’  Stop your chuckling and attend to my words.

You see in this comment the exact reference to ‘the principle of religious neutrality’ that Barker made.

In a bizarre twist, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the atheists.  Where that puts the American Atheists/Humanist’s assertion that the Sixth Circuit’s argument was ‘based on a misreading of the Constitution’ I don’t know.  Still my point in referencing this example is to show that in point of fact, atheists do not think that “Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property.”  Actually, they believe that this constitutes ‘special rights for religious defendants.’

Now, are they lying about their true position or is their worldview so incoherent that even four fabulously progressive liberals on the Supreme Court couldn’t get it to align with reason?  I don’t have the answer to this question, but personally I think it is a little of both, with the addition that they say some of the stupid things they say as part of a legal strategem.  (Really?  They’re offended by a baby in a manger?  I find it hard to believe.)

For our purposes it doesn’t matter how we answer that.  What matters is that we are aware that there are bigger things afoot.

It is worth mentioning here that Hosanna-Tabor was up against the Federal government itself– the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.   In short, the Obama Administration.  (One more reason I’m perplexed by the decision, since two of the SCOTUS appointees were made by Obama.)

The Obama Administration buys into the new atheist argument that the Constitution implies a ‘principle of religious neutrality’ that entails no ‘special rights for religious defendants.’  Indeed, we just saw them enact HHS rules requiring religious organizations to fund behaviors that they find morally objectionable: contraception;  which of course sometimes is identical with abortion itself.  (I understand that many liberals view abortion itself as contraception.  I’m referring to the fact that some contraceptive drugs are actually abortifacients.)

Here again we discover that the secular humanists do not really believe that “Christians can do whatever they like in their churches and private property.”

What Obama has been saying is that the Constitution enshrines a ‘right to worship,’ but in his conduct, as well, we see the same sort of dilemma where we either have to conclude that he has jello for brains or he is simply a liar.  Even in his book, Christians can’t do whatever they like in their churches and private property.

Now let us compare these sentiments with the actual words of the Constitution:

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

 Usually we talk about the first half of this–the establishment of religion.  Atheists have made great headway towards creating the precedent that allowing nativity scenes on public property constitutes an ‘establishment of religion.’  On this view, a Christian’s bumper sticker on his car on a public road constitutes an ‘establishment of religion.’  He is, after all, on public property.  But my point is to the second part of the clause:  “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

I will casually note that the clause does not go on to say, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof in their churches and private property.”

With all religious expression in the public square fiercely attacked every year at this time and the atheists and Federal agencies with Obama at the head pushing headlong into the affairs of ‘their churches and private property’ one is hard pressed to imagine just what kind of ‘free exercise’ these folks will actually allow.  To me, it seems to consist solely of singing Kum Bah Yah, provided that no one else can hear you.

This is a far cry from what the Constitution says or implies.  It is quite clear from the words of the first amendment that, contrary to modern assertions otherwise, that the government cannot limit religious expression in the public sphere, period.  Moreover, since the same sentence forbids and establishment of religion even as it forbids prohibiting the free exercise of religion, the framers obviously did not perceive that the latter necessarily amounted to the former.

We must think very seriously about what may happen if the lunatics consolidate their control over the asylum.  If the Obama administration and his atheist backers succeed in driving ‘religious expression’ into the deep recesses of our skulls, allowing it public expression only insofar as one is publicly seen moving from one’s car to one’s church, what kind of society can we expect?

I would like to answer this question by pointing out that Christmas is not the only holiday that Christians have given us.  The list is actually quite long–atheists of course have not given us any–but there is one in particular I want to emphasize:  Independence Day.

As Barker correctly notes, European settlers to the Americas were driven on in search of religious freedom.  (He incorrectly has the Puritans fleeing the Roman Catholics.)  The first people to come to America were deeply concerned about the ‘establishment of religion’, which is reinforced by the fact that the first ten words of the entire Bill of Rights moves to prohibit it, and the next six words insists that religious expression shall not be prohibited.  Then comes the right to free speech, the right of a free press, and so on.

Compare the placement of these words and their emphatic nature with a comparable document that would arise shortly after, in the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man“, one of the founding documents of the French Revolution.

 10.  No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.

 11.  The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.

 As the French Revolution played out, the import of the italicized caveats became clear.  Spurred on by Enlightenment principles (ie, ones that disparaged religion and held ‘free thought’ very high, indeed), in very short order there came massacre upon massacre.  Something called “the Committee of Public Safety” (not to be confused with the Health and Human Services department) established itself as a virtual dictatorship, and in the ‘Reign of Terror’ some 40,000 people were simply executed.   After all, each shall be responsible for the abuses of their freedom, and by no means should the public order be disturbed.

This is an aside, but an important one:  it may seem odd that the Committee of Public Safety, acting on principles espoused in a nice sounding document such as ‘the Declaration of the Rights of Man’ could turn so viciously upon their own fellowman, but there was something else in that declaration that goes far to explain it–

 3.  The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.

 In other words, the nation comes first.  Individual rights come from the nation–and can be taken away.  The nation is everything, and anything that undermines the nation must be violently dealt with.

Compare and contrast with the first words of the American Declaration of Independence:

 We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 In other words, the individual comes first.  Their rights come from God and not even a nation or ‘social contract’ can obliterate them.  The former principle led to the slaughter of tens of thousands, the latter principle to the freedom of millions.

With some exceptions, sadly:  the American founders did not do the right thing and abolish slavery as they ought to have done so right at the start.  In the name of the ‘nation’ (ie, the former principle, and not the latter) they sacrificed their own principles.  In about sixty years, Abraham Lincoln would rise victorious in a conflict that would slay 500,000 people:  in the name of the nation.  (Stand by for cheap shot:  It is probably a coincidence that Lincoln is a favorite of many atheists.)

I think it is safe to say that nothing but blood and terror has followed where the principle that the nation stands above everything else, and everything else must answer in accordance to whether or not it ‘disturbs the public order.’

The American framers understood that checks and balances were absolutely necessary for a fair and just society to exist–because “We are all damned sinners who need to be ‘saved’ by bowing down to the baby in the manger.”  In other words, they saw as a simple statement of truth about humans what atheists regard as a “reprehensible put-down of humanity.”  Original sin is real.  If you believe as such, liberty is the result.  If you don’t, the French Revolution, the American Civil War, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Holocaust, Pol Pot’s Killing Fields, and so on and so forth, is the result.

Understand why I say this.  It is different than the typical battle over atheism’s role in 20th century atrocities.  Yes, most of the revolutionaries referenced in these examples were atheists, but one does not need to be an atheist in order to fall into the trap that the ‘nation’ is a thing to be upheld at all costs.

That was a long aside, but it had to be said, because this is essentially the same issue that is before us today:  to what exactly will we give our highest allegiance and who will decide this question?

The Christian men and women of early America argued that God warrants our highest allegiance, but this question is worked out individually, not collectively.   Their beliefs gave us Independence Day, another holiday that ‘we get to stay home for.’  Driven on by their religious beliefs, they gave freedom to all.

To put the whole thing another way, just as you can only have pacifists in a country ringed by armed protectors, you can only have atheists in a country where the ‘free expression’ of religion in all spheres–public and private–are welcome.    Only in a country where it is actually the case, and not mere lip service, that “there is room at the inn for all of us”, can there be life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Dan Barker and the New Atheist Quest for the Freedom From Religion, if successful, will end in their own slavery, along with everyone else’s, because if ever our fellow man is given the right and authority to decide where we put our ultimate allegiances, abuse and tyranny is bound to follow.  So is the testimony of history.

So, while the efforts of the FFRF are very childish indeed, their successes do not bode well for the future.  Not ours, nor theirs, either.”

via Dan Barker’s War on Religion, Though Childish, Has Adult Implications | Athanatos Christian Apologetics Ministry.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
Rossville, GA
godsguy12@comcast.net
jadams012@gmail.com
christianreasons@gmail.com
http://about.me/eric.adams
http://christianreasons.com/

English: A woman makes her support of her marr...

English: A woman makes her support of her marriage, and not civil unions, known outside the Mormon temple at New York City’s Lincoln Center. Photographer’s blog post about this photo and the protest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Same-Sex Marriage Ten Years On: Lessons from Canada

by  Bradley Miller

November 5th, 2012

The effects of same-sex civil marriage in Canada—restrictions on free speech rights, parental rights in education, and autonomy rights of religious institutions, along with a weakening of the marriage culture—provide lessons for the United States.

Would recognizing same-sex relationships as marriages be much of a game-changer? What impact, if any, would it have on the public conception of marriage or the state of a nation’s marriage culture?

There has been no shortage of speculation on these questions. But the limited American experience with same-sex marriage to date gives us few concrete answers. So it makes sense to consider the Canadian experience since the first Canadian court established same-sex marriage a decade ago. There are, of course, important cultural and institutional differences between the US and Canada and, as is the case in any polity, much depends upon the actions of local political and cultural actors. That is to say, it is not necessarily safe to assume that Canadian experiences will be replicated here. But they should be considered; the Canadian experience is the best available evidence of the short-term impact of same-sex marriage in a democratic society very much like America.

Anyone interested in assessing the impact of same-sex marriage on public life should investigate the outcomes in three spheres: first, human rights (including impacts on freedom of speech, parental rights in public education, and the autonomy of religious institutions); second, further developments in what sorts of relationships political society will be willing to recognize as a marriage (e.g., polygamy); and third, the social practice of marriage.

The Impact on Human Rights

The formal effect of the judicial decisions (and subsequent legislation) establishing same-sex civil marriage in Canada was simply that persons of the same-sex could now have the government recognize their relationships as marriages. But the legal and cultural effect was much broader. What transpired was the adoption of a new orthodoxy: that same-sex relationships are, in every way, the equivalent of traditional marriage, and that same-sex marriage must therefore be treated identically to traditional marriage in law and public life.

A corollary is that anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus toward gays and lesbians. Any statement of disagreement with same-sex civil marriage is thus considered a straightforward manifestation of hatred toward a minority sexual group. Any reasoned explanation (for example, those that were offered in legal arguments that same-sex marriage is incompatible with a conception of marriage that responds to the needs of the children of the marriage for stability, fidelity, and permanence—what is sometimes called the conjugal conception of marriage), is dismissed right away as mere pretext.

When one understands opposition to same-sex marriage as a manifestation of sheer bigotry and hatred, it becomes very hard to tolerate continued dissent. Thus it was in Canada that the terms of participation in public life changed very quickly. Civil marriage commissioners were the first to feel the hard edge of the new orthodoxy; several provinces refused to allow commissioners a right of conscience to refuse to preside over same-sex weddings, and demanded their resignations. At the same time, religious organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, were fined for refusing to rent their facilities for post-wedding celebrations.

The Right to Freedom of Expression

The new orthodoxy’s impact has not been limited to the relatively small number of persons at risk of being coerced into supporting or celebrating a same-sex marriage. The change has widely affected persons—including clergy—who wish to make public arguments about human sexuality.

Much speech that was permitted before same-sex marriage now carries risks. Many of those who have persisted in voicing their dissent have been subjected to investigations by human rights commissions and (in some cases) proceedings before human rights tribunals. Those who are poor, poorly educated, and without institutional affiliation have been particularly easy targets—anti-discrimination laws are not always applied evenly.  Some have been ordered to pay fines, make apologies, and undertake never to speak publicly on such matters again. Targets have included individuals writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, and ministers of small congregations of Christians. A Catholic bishop faced two complaints—both eventually withdrawn—prompted by comments he made in a pastoral letter about marriage.

Reviewing courts have begun to rein in the commissions and tribunals (particularly since some ill-advised proceedings against Mark Steyn andMaclean’s magazine in 2009), and restore a more capacious view of freedom of speech. And in response to the public outcry following the Steyn/Maclean’saffair, the Parliament of Canada recently revoked the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s statutory jurisdiction to pursue “hate speech.”

But the financial cost of fighting the human rights machine remains enormous—Maclean’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, none of which is recoverable from the commissions, tribunals, or complainants. And these cases can take up to a decade to resolve. An ordinary person with few resources who has drawn the attention of a human rights commission has no hope of appealing to the courts for relief; such a person can only accept the admonition of the commission, pay a (comparatively) small fine, and then observe the directive to remain forever silent. As long as these tools remain at the disposal of the commissions—for whom the new orthodoxy gives no theoretical basis to tolerate dissent—to engage in public discussion about same-sex marriage is to court ruin.

Similar pressure can be—and is—brought to bear on dissenters by professional governing bodies (such as bar associations, teachers’ colleges, and the like) that have statutory power to discipline members for conduct unbecoming of the profession. Expressions of disagreement with the reasonableness of institutionalizing same-sex marriage are understood by these bodies to be acts of illegal discrimination, which are matters for professional censure.

Teachers are particularly at risk for disciplinary action, for even if they only make public statements criticizing same-sex marriage outside the classroom, they are still deemed to create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students. Other workplaces and voluntary associations have adopted similar policies as a result of their having internalized this new orthodoxy that disagreement with same-sex marriage is illegal discrimination that must not be tolerated.

Parental Rights in Public Education

Institutionalizing same-sex marriage has subtly but pervasively changed parental rights in public education. The debate over how to cast same-sex marriage in the classroom is much like the debate over the place of sex education in schools, and of governmental pretensions to exercise primary authority over children. But sex education has always been a discrete matter, in the sense that by its nature it cannot permeate the entirety of the curriculum. Same-sex marriage is on a different footing.

Since one of the tenets of the new orthodoxy is that same-sex relationships deserve the same respect that we give marriage, its proponents have been remarkably successful in demanding that same-sex marriage be depicted positively in the classroom. Curriculum reforms in jurisdictions such as British Columbia now prevent parents from exercising their long-held veto power over contentious educational practices.

The new curricula are permeated by positive references to same-sex marriage, not just in one discipline but in all. Faced with this strategy of diffusion, the only parental defense is to remove one’s children from the public school system entirely. Courts have been unsympathetic to parental objections: if parents are clinging to outdated bigotries, then children must bear the burden of “cognitive dissonance”—they must absorb conflicting things from home and school while school tries to win out.

The reforms, of course, were not sold to the public as a matter of enforcing the new orthodoxy. Instead, the stated rationale was to prevent bullying; that is, to promote the acceptance of gay and lesbian youth and the children of same-sex households.

It is a laudable goal to encourage acceptance of persons. But whatever can be said for the objective, the means chosen to achieve it is a gross violation of the family. It is nothing less than the deliberate indoctrination of children (over the objections of their parents) into a conception of marriage that is fundamentally hostile to what the parents understand to be in their children’s best interests. It frustrates the ability of parents to lead their children to an understanding of marriage that will be conducive to their flourishing as adults. At a very early age, it teaches children that the underlying rationale of marriage is nothing other than the satisfaction of changeable adult desires for companionship.

Religious Institutions’ Right to Autonomy

At first glance, clergy and houses of worship appeared largely immune from coercion to condone or perform same-sex marriages. Indeed, this was the grand bargain of the same-sex marriage legislation—clergy would retain the right not to perform marriages that would violate their religious beliefs. Houses of worship could not be conscripted against the wishes of religious bodies.

It should have been clear from the outset just how narrow this protection is. It only prevents clergy from being coerced into performing marriage ceremonies. It does not, as we have seen, shield sermons or pastoral letters from the scrutiny of human rights commissions. It leaves congregations vulnerable to legal challenges if they refuse to rent their auxiliary facilities to same-sex couples for their ceremony receptions, or to any other organization that will use the facility to promote a view of sexuality wholly at odds with their own.

Neither does it prevent provincial and municipal governments from withholding benefits to religious congregations because of their marriage doctrine. For example, Bill 13, the same Ontario statute that compels Catholic schools to host “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs (and to use that particular name), also prohibits public schools from renting their facilities to organizations that will not agree to a code of conduct premised on the new orthodoxy. Given that many small Christian congregations rent school auditoriums to conduct their worship services, it is easy to appreciate their vulnerability.

Changes to the Public Conception of Marriage

It has been argued that if same-sex marriage is institutionalized, new marital categories may be accepted, like polygamy. Once one abandons a conjugal conception of marriage, and replaces it with a conception of marriage that has adult companionship as its focus, there is no principled basis for resisting the extension of marriage licenses to polygamist and polyamorist unions.

In other words, if marriage is about satisfying adult desires for companionship, and if the desires of some adults extend to more novel arrangements, how can we deny them? I will not here evaluate this claim, but simply report how this scenario has played out in Canada.

One prominent polygamist community in British Columbia was greatly emboldened by the creation of same-sex marriage, and publicly proclaimed that there was now no principled basis for the state’s continued criminalization of polygamy. Of all the Canadian courts, only a trial court in British Columbia has addressed whether prohibiting polygamy is constitutional, and provided an advisory opinion to the province’s government. The criminal prohibition of polygamy was upheld, but on a narrow basis that defined polygamy as multiple, concurrent civil marriages. The court did not address the phenomenon of multiple common-law marriages. So, thus far, the dominant forms of polygamy and polyamory practiced in Canada have not gained legal status, but neither have they faced practical impediments.

The lesson is this: a society that institutionalizes same-sex marriage needn’t necessarily institutionalize polygamy. But the example from British Columbia suggests that the only way to do so is to ignore principle. The polygamy case’s reasoning gave no convincing explanation why it would be discriminatory not to extend the marriage franchise to gays and lesbians, but not discriminatory to draw the line at polygamists and polyamorists. In fact, the judgment looks like it rests on animus toward polygamists and polyamorists, which is not a stable juridical foundation.

Continue reading at Same-Sex Marriage Ten Years On: Lessons from Canada | Public Discourse.