The Left's Viking Politics
The new Vikings series on the History Channel has brought to light an interesting battle strategy from the past. The pagan Nordic marauders -- after having learned that most Europeans attended church on Sunday -- found Christians, their unattended homes and possessions, and the various valuable religious artifacts housed within the church walls, all easy targets.
Although the contemporary conflict in America is largely an ideological one waged between opposing political parties, it is apparent that Democrats have begun, in earnest, to apply their own, modern version of the ancient Viking tactic: Attack the Christian religion -- in an effort to discourage Republicans who go to church on Sundays to stay home on voting Tuesdays.
Recently, Christianity replaced Judaism as the most persecuted religion in the world. Some will argue that there is no war against Christianity in America, but it is worth noting the attributes shared by the three predominate "social issues" of today. These three -- the contraceptive mandate, abortion, and gay marriage -- not only rile up feelings against and within the Christian population, but also serve to define and agitate the division within the GOP between its socially-conservative and socially-liberal members.
Democrats see that division as an ideal opportunity -- not only to distract from their own dismal economic record, but also to weaken their opposition. So often, the Republican establishment plays right into the Democrat battle plan. Instead of redirecting conversation on the issues into rallying cries for unity, the party appears to marginalize its "religious fringe" as it defensively lines up in formation -- of a circular firing squad.
Consider the first of the "social issues" mentioned: the AFA's contraceptive mandate. There were so many things that HHS could have targeted as "free" -- why not vitamins, diet plans, smoking cessation programs, or OTC pain or cold remedies? If there exists one issue that strikes at an emotional discord within the Catholic Church and the practical application of its doctrine, it is contraception. And observe the plight of Christian business owners who claim that their freedom of religion has been infringed by the mandate, and then note the absence of Republican leadership on the issue.
In many ways, the so-called "Republican war on women" is Democrat-media-complex camouflage for a very real war on both the GOP and the church. Ken Connor described the AFA mandate as an intentional "bait and switch" that advances "a left wing ideology that is increasingly hostile to religion." Connor wrote: "President Obama's true motive has less to do with birth control and more to do with government control, sending the message that it is not God but the State that is the final authority on questions of personal conscience and morality."
But gay marriage and abortion are "separate issues" that the GOP should unbundle, argued conservative author Jonah Goldberg -- so that it can then withdraw, in a winning move, away from the anti-gay-marriage crowd. He wrote, "But once you're born, and -- hopefully -- properly raised, the government's chief obligation is to stay out of your way -- whether you're straight or gay -- so you can pursue happiness as you define it -- not how, say, Michael Bloomberg or Pat Robertson defines it."
Unless -- as Conner warned -- it may ultimately be the State that defines it.
"Cultural conservatives," as Matt Lewis described them, would disagree with Goldberg's "leave-us alone" response, seeing it as "naïve." Lewis noted that relativist thinking -- in a society that increasingly values individual rights over virtue -- results in abortion defined as "giving the mother the right to pursue happiness." (So much for Goldberg's plan to separate the two issues in the "happiness" debate.) And America has already felt the impact when a majority defines their pursuit of economic happiness as the redistribution of wealth from others.
Social conservatives believe in an ordered society that encourages ordered liberty and virtue, and in a natural law that God put into motion at our creation that is not subject either to manipulation by the State nor the whims of its population -- or even the latest strategy of its political party.
Some will argue that polls increasingly show national approval for same-sex marriage over the past several years. Two thousand years ago, the historian Tacitus recorded that Christians in Rome were persecuted for the crime of "hatred of the human race" by a society that "practiced primitive forms of abortion as well as 'exposure,' the killing of unwanted newborns" and that "sought to make [homosexual] relationships normative."
Today's progressive thinking, instead of moving society forward, has actually landed us full circle, to an ancient time when Christians were labeled "haters" for opposing the same things it does today. If the majority of society again embraces both issues, it is not because of scientific advancement. Science may have rendered abortion easier and the biological issues of homosexuality treatable; but science has also made life outside the womb possible ever nearer to the point of conception, and as recently summed up by law professor Nelson Lund, same-sex marriage is a "social experiment without science behind it."
It is worth noting that the seeds of our country's Revolution, the fight for the abolition of slavery, and the civil rights movement all began in our churches. But today, as our economy flounders, we see a massive effort to silence the church on issues that radically impact society. That effort may ultimately result in laws that prohibit the church's viewpoint as "hate speech."
A year ago, I authored a column that addressed the topic, "Christianity or Thoughtcrime," as a follow-up to the media's hysterical response to Christian actor Kirk Cameron's opinion on gay marriage. I laid out the scenario in what sounds like an Orwellian plot:
Christian publicly asserts Christian beliefs; beliefs are politically incorrect speech; speech equals hate; hate encourages mistreatment; encouragement equals crime...
"We all know what the next step is," Breitbart's John Nolte declared in his piece on the Cameron debate. "[T]hat's the outlawing of these opinions under the principle that the speaking of such things will cause harm to others. This, of course, would mean the end to the church -- which is the whole idea."
Many Republicans assert that "it's the economy, stupid," and that the party should avoid social issues. But many citizens who attend the Lord's house on Sunday feel that the order of our nation's moral house is foundational to the health of our economy; and further, that what is learned on Sunday rightly impacts thinking during the other six days of the week.
"The GOP is not a Christian club," argued Goldberg as he wondered why Asian-Americans, whose values seem more in tune with the conservative platform than liberal, typically vote Democrat. Goldberg concluded that the GOP's "problem" is its "pronounced embrace of Christianity."
Perhaps Goldberg, and the rest of the Republican establishment, have it backwards: instead of de-emphasizing its Christians, Republicans should emphasize such a unity with Christian values, a position which would appeal not only Asian-Americans, but also the largely Catholic Hispanic-Americans.
A movement toward an emphasis on Christian values within the GOP, rather than away from them, might also serve to welcome blacks who reject the idea of same-sex marriage, such as the 1300-member Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP). CAAP's president, following the announcement of President Obama's "evolution" on gay marriage, described it as an "immoral path" and a comparison of civil rights with gay rights as "unacceptable." According to recent polls, fewer blacks than whites support the idea of same-sex marriage.
In reference to the standing ovation that the NAACP gave Mitt Romney during his speech at the group's convention last July, Thomas Lifson wrote: "Something happened here worth examining closely." Indeed -- for it was during Romney's religious remarks and support for traditional marriage that the audience became positively engaged.
Maybe Star Parker was on to something when she observed the "Sunday-Tuesday Gap" in black America. According to Parker:
The black church has always played a central role in black American life. Blacks attend church with greater frequency than any ethnic group in the nation[.] ... On Sunday, blacks hear preachers talk about traditional values, about family, about personal responsibility, about the sanctity of life. On Tuesday they go to the polls and vote for candidates that support abortion, moral relativism, and government dependence.
Just before the 2010 elections, I wrote about the Alliance Defense Fund's Pulpit Initiative which seeks to challenge restrictions on the right of churches to express political opinions at the risk of losing tax-exempt status, in a column titled, à la Sarah Palin: "I Can See November from my Pew."
What remains to be seen is how the GOP decides to view voters like me. We, of all skin colors and hyphenated nationalities (or not), who not only vote but donate to political races with pocketbooks lined with religious values -- and pull voting levers with hands that are often clasped in prayer. We will either be warmly welcomed by the "club," or marginalized by a party that often appears to be not much different than the other one.
Back to the Vikings -- and a hint to the GOP: The prime-time slot that preceded the show was filled by The Bible mini-series, which has broken records in numbers of viewers. Perhaps a majority of the population, unlike the DNC attendees who three times booed the mention of God in their party platform, is looking for something else.