Monday, December 1, 2008

The state religion

I came across a video with the following message in it. It was written by Elder Neil A. Maxwell[1926-2004], who was in the leadership of the LDS Church. This address was given at Brigham Young University October 10, 1978 entitled: Meeting the Challenges of Today. Emphasis added.

I include it here because of how accurate it is. I think of the response the Mormons, Catholics and others received when Prop 8 passed in California--how they use the cultivation of freedoms of our Western civilization to shrink freedom. Those with religious motives are discounted by those who oppose them by claiming separation of church and state. This is a segment of that address.

We are now entering a period of incredible ironies. Let us cite but one of these ironies which is yet in its subtle stages: we shall see in our time a maximum if indirect effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism that uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of Western civilization to shrink freedom even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage.

M. J. Sobran wrote recently:

"The Framers of the Constitution . . . forbade the Congress to make any law "respecting" the establishment of religion, thus leaving the states free to do so (as several of them did); and they explicitly forbade the Congress to abridge "the free exercise" of religion, thus giving actual religious observance a rhetorical emphasis that fully accords with the special concern we know they had for religion. It takes a special ingenuity to wring out of this a governmental indifference to religion, let alone an aggressive secularism. Yet there are those who insist that the First Amendment actually proscribes governmental partiality not only to any single religion, but to religion as such; so that tax exemption for churches is now thought to be unconstitutional. It is startling [she he continues] to consider that a clause clearly protecting religion can be construed as requiring that it be denied a status routinely granted to educational and charitable enterprises, which have no overt constitutional protection. Far from equalizing unbelief, secularism has succeeded in virtually establishing it.

[she he continues:] What the secularists are increasingly demanding, in their disingenuous way, is that religious people, when they act politically, act only on secularist grounds. They are trying to equate acting on religion with establishing religion. And--I repeat--the consequence of such logic is really to establish secularism. It is in fact, to force the religious to internalize the major premise of secularism: that religion has no proper bearing on public affairs. [Human Life Review, Summer 1978, pp. 51–52, 60–61]"

...irreligion as the state religion would be the worst of all combinations. Its orthodoxy would be insistent and its inquisitors inevitable. Its paid ministry would be numerous beyond belief. Its Caesars would be insufferably condescending. Its majorities--when faced with clear alternatives--would make the Barabbas choice, as did a mob centuries ago when Pilate confronted them with the need to decide.

Your discipleship may see the time come when religious convictions are heavily discounted. M. J. Sobran also observed, "A religious conviction is now a second-class conviction, expected to step deferentially to the back of the secular bus, and not to get uppity about it" (Human Life Review, Summer 1978, p. 58). This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain of people's opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortion will soon be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened.

In its mildest form, irreligion will merely be condescending toward those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian values. In its more harsh forms, as is always the case with those whose dogmatism is blinding, the secular church will do what it can to reduce the influence of those who still worry over standards such as those in the Ten Commandments. It is always such an easy step from dogmatism to unfair play--especially so when the dogmatists believe themselves to be dealing with primitive people who do not know what is best for them. It is the secular bureaucrat's burden, you see.

Am I saying that the voting rights of the people of religion are in danger? Of course not! Am I saying, "It's back to the catacombs?" No! But there is occurring a discounting of religiously-based opinions. There may even be a covert and subtle disqualification of some for certain offices in some situations, in an ironic "irreligious test" for office.

However, if people are not permitted to advocate, to assert, and to bring to bear, in every legitimate way, the opinions and views they hold that grow out of their religious convictions, what manner of men and women would they be, anyway? Our founding fathers did not wish to have a state church established nor to have a particular religion favored by government. They wanted religion to be free to make its own way. But neither did they intend to have irreligion made into a favored state church. Notice the terrible irony if this trend were to continue. When the secular church goes after its heretics, where are the sanctuaries? To what landfalls and Plymouth Rocks can future pilgrims go?

If we let come into being a secular church shorn of traditional and divine values, where shall we go for inspiration in the crises of tomorrow? Can we appeal to the rightness of a specific regulation to sustain us in our hours of need? Will we be able to seek shelter under a First Amendment which by then may have been twisted to favor irreligion? Will we be able to rely for counterforce on value education in school systems that are increasingly secularized? And if our governments and schools were to fail us, would we be able to fall back upon the institution of the family, when so many secular movements seek to shred it?

I include a video of this on the sidebar.

"A law professor at the purportedly Catholic Georgetown University, who is also a gay activist, argues that the cause of gay marriage is simply in conflict with religious liberty; he's "having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win." (Never mind, again, that the victory of Proposition 8 in California was not the result of an edict from Salt Lake, the Vatican or any one religion, but the free and fair vote of California citizens, some informed by their religious belief, as they are free to be so motivated.)

Surely we don't have to be Mormon to be outraged. I make no statement about their recruitment strategies when I say, watching California, "We're all Mormons now." Next time the violent backlash may be in response to a brave Catholic bishop teaching responsibility at the voting booth. Next time it could be an online evangelical dating service hauled into court by a state "civil rights" office for not providing same-sex matchmaking. Oh wait, that already happened in New Jersey."


Phelonius said...

There is a lot of truth in what she is proposing here. The secularist view that drove me away from that viewpoint was, in large part, that they deny that they are a religion, yet they act exactly as anyone with a strong religious viewpoint would act. The grounding for this is the philosophy that "their" views are somehow based in science and everything else is, ipso facto, not accurate. It is an underlying assumption that deductive reasoning can perform inductive leaps, which is patently false by definition.

The first cause of creation cannot be deduced. It will always be an article of faith. If you hold to the big bang theory, fine. What that describes is a method of creation, not the cause of that creation. If you hold to membrane theory as what causes a big bang event, then again you are describing a physical process, not WHY the process is THERE.

That is only one example of how secularists maintain that their articles of faith are somehow superior to other faiths, and they do so by simply mis-labeling the kind of logical reasoning that they are engaged in doing.

Kelly said...

Well, said! The issue is that religious opinions are inately false because they cannot be proved.

James, you are quite qualified to give that perspective as you have been on the secularist side of the equation.

I appreciate this perspective. I like how you have described the issue with the Creation. :)

Kelly said...

There is an Ad that appeared in the NY Times this week that is bringing a lot of heat from those who oppose prop 8.

New York Times ad blasts ire aimed at LDS

"Declaring "no mob veto," a full-page ad in the New York Times on Friday denounced the "violence and intimidation" directed at members of the LDS Church who supported California's ban on gay marriage.

"When thugs ... terrorize any place of worship, especially those of a religious minority, responsible voices need to speak clearly: Religious wars are wrong; they are also dangerous," reads the advertisement paid for by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, based in Washington, D.C.

Even the ad is bringing criticism from those who refuse to acknowledge the right of a religious group of people to promote a cause.

The Human Rights Campaign, however, decried the ad, calling it "corporate hypocrisy."
"Calls for tolerance of certain religious viewpoints rings hollow in a world where religion often stands by tolerating violence perpetrated on God's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children," said Rev. Erin Swenson, a Presbyterian minister who sits on the HRC's Religion Council.

Yet, the religious groups who are target by the gay and lesbian groups have not perpetuated or condoned violence against such people.

This is like kicking your sister cause your brother hit you.

ZZMike said...

[I dropped in by way of Born Again Redneck]

This one is so simple, and so completely overlooked, I was sore amazed:

"... forbade the Congress to make any law "respecting" the establishment of religion, thus leaving the states free to do so."

So if my local school board decides to have a full-up Christmas celebration, with carols and sheep and Wise Men and a manger, complainers don't have a leg to stand on.

You've stopped my whole day's train of thought. (Or at least, M. J. Sobran did.)

Speaking of "demonstrations" outside churches, I have to wonder why we do not see those demonstrators outside mosques. Islam is somewhat less forgiving of homosexuality than either Christianity or Judaism.

"[She continues:] What the secularists are..."

Is that the same M.J. Sobran? The one I know of is M. Joseph Sobran.

I don't understand the argument from civil liberty, and that homosexuals are somehow "deprived of rights". They have exactly and precisely the same rights as anyone else: to marry anyone of the opposite sex who'll put up with them.

Kelly said...

Hi, zzmike, welcome,

So many people have been convinced that the church and state issue means that Churches must remain quiet. Nothing could be further from the truth.

also, you said, "They have exactly and precisely the same rights as anyone else: to marry anyone of the opposite sex who'll put up with them."

Actually, there are even restrictions on heterosexuals and who can marry. I could not, in most states, marry my cousin.

As for MJ Sobran, I am looking into that.

Kelly said...


I found an official reference to the article by MJ Sobran mentioned by Maxwell in this blog entry. It is indeed Joseph Sobran.

just do a search for Established Irreligion, The and you will find Joseph Sobran as the author of that article refered to in this blog. It does not have the actual text of that, but a list of articles from previous issues of their magazine.