Swedish gay pride parade. © Getty Images
The First Amendment
The Mayor of Houston and the Saudi Ministry of Religious Affairs

Every presidency creates an institutional culture which trickles down all the way to city halls in the provinces. Obama’s tone-deafness on religious freedom has had palpable consequences across the land.

Published on: October 22, 2014
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  • Boritz

    “…view of the world has been shaped by the culture of elite academia.”

    There is no group in more dire need of education.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Cute sound bite, but without explaining your desired education points, it’s just a meaningless poke.

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    In Peter Berger’s new book “The Many Altars of Modernity: Towards a Paradigm of Religion in a Pluralist Age”, he relates an amusing story of an incident he experienced in a small town in Andalusia, Spain when he was younger that bears on the topic this week. As Berger tells it, he went out on a walk and ran into a Catholic procession of priests and soldiers carrying rifles with bayonets fixed as part of the festival of Corpus Christi.

    The parade was marked by a syncopated march to a slow drumbeat. Berger writes: “It was quite a display of militant faith”. Parade watchers all around him knelt and crossed themselves. Berger remained standing as the procession came to a halt in front of him and the priest pointed to him and two policemen led him away. The police asked: “did he not know he was in a Catholic country” and if he “intended disrespect for the Catholic religion”? Berger denied any disrespect, vouching that he was an American ignorant of the meaning of the ritual. Afterward Berger wondered if the priest could have ordered him shot or impaled on the spot.

    While Berger says this sort of religious militancy is no longer prevalent in pluralist Spain, an ideological version of this sort of militancy seems to now be embraced by American politicians from the “New Class” in of all places Houston, Texas.

    Berger’s book posits a new split-level theory of secularization: pluralism in the religious sphere as indicated by denominations and pluralism of secular discourse; both coexisting in the same society in a form of non-exclusiveness. But in my experience there is pluralism and tolerance in the religious sphere but growing militancy in the secular government sphere.

    One aspect of secularization we tend to see more and more of is the fundamentalistic militancy of secular government, as depicted by the gay mayor of Houston’s Americanized Progressive version of a secular inquisition.

    It is not unusual in my hometown for a meeting of its Public Utilities Commission to open with a castigation of anyone in the audience who isn’t a “true believer” in global warming (Art Hoffer). Those in the New Class apparently cannot easily maintain their precarious secular worldview and the accompanying cognitive dissonance that comes with pluralization.

    Cognitive dissonance results in a tendency for one’s beliefs to get stronger, not weaker, the more dissonant and clashing their world view is with those of others, especially outwardly religious people. Those in the New Class tend to believe that all those who have strong religious view are bigots. Ironically, many of those in the New Class could be accused of being “religiophobic”, to borrow a New Class term.

    I would offer that Berger is right about pluralism and secularism, but his book possibly under emphasizes the aspect of the growing militancy of secularism; although I haven’t finished reading it.

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously wrote: “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

    But who is going to save politics from overreach like that of Houston’s mayor when government has a monopoly on coercive legitimization?

    My summation of the exceptionalism of American pluralism is that government has best been left secular and society has been best left religious. What the “New Class” political Left wants, however, is a militant secularism that puts religion out of business or co-opts it for political purposes, thus violating the thin blue line of the social contract that Berger says is essential for managing pluralism. With the “New Class” political Left there is always the totalitarian temptation.

  • FriendlyGoat

    1) If the Houston city attorney, mayor and pro bono lawyers had called Obama, who you are blaming here, and asked him whether to send the subpoenas, the President would have said “OF COURSE NOT, ARE YOU CONSTITUTIONALLY DEAF? Our president is not to blame for this ridiculous error by some amateurs in Texas.

    2) John Kennedy did not offend the Baptists or other religious conservatives.
    The six Catholics of the present Supreme Court (five Republican males, one Democratic female), however, are unable and unwilling to stop gay marriage in America. They likewise have Roe v. Wade still standing after seven or eight years of the five Republican males being able to overturn Roe—but opting to make plenty of other horrible decisions INSTEAD.

    They are “stiffing” the religious conservatives on these two big social issues so that they do not lose legitimacy on the appearance of religious bias (as they would), thereby enabling them to continue ruining the country with Republican decisions (such as Citizens United) instead of Church decisions (such as banning gay marriage and abortion). And YET, the church people “don’t get” how these supposed conservative heroes are double-crossing them—–seeing as how the church people have been voting for “conservatism” forever, ostensibly to fix “social issues” to their liking. All they are getting is corporate decision after corporate decision, and a widening of the wealth gap between themselves and those “tax-cut Republicans” who never gave a darn about their social issues—-just used them in elections.

    3) We don’t suppress religion in this country—-partly because we agreed not to in a constitution, and partly because we don’t have a compelling need to do so. We should be mindful that some countries have a different reality. Egypt, for instance, has reportedly banned large numbers of radical Islamists from preaching in their mosques since pulling itself back from the Muslim Brotherhood “brink”. What might be going on there if they did not try to keep a lid on the worst of Islam? Same as Iraq and Libya?

    • Corlyss

      “President would have said “OF COURSE NOT, ARE YOU CONSTITUTIONALLY DEAF?”

      If only that were true. First of all, Doofus only knows the 14th amendment. The rest to him could be toilet paper. Secondly, where were you and your voice for religious freedom when the Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor were ordered to provide contraceptive services in their health plans? The German family that was going to be forced to return to Germany because they home-schooled?

      “partly because we don’t have a compelling need to do so.”

      You need a refresher course in religious history of this country, as well as an awareness of exactly what the constitution is. It’s a piece of paper that has only that meaning which the government gives it. In the face of secular trends, ACLU/atheist enforced secularism, and the rise of the modern administrative state, which allows no competitors for public devotion, churches give in or they wither away. Gay activists have certainly been at the heart of much recent troubles for freedom of religious thought with their relentless and unnecessary anti-discrimination laws. If you would like a close up view of this situation, here’s an article about the draconian policy that forced Catholic Charities out of Boston because it refused to allow gay adoptions and what was the future in 2005 but has been realized all over the country. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/191kgwgh.asp
      If you would rather just continue on in blissful, ideological ignorance, as you were.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Before he was president, your dear “Doofus” taught law in a college. The college did not let him do that on your alleged background of one amendment and a pile of toilet paper.

        The Hobby Lobby case was decided in the manner it was because the five Catholic Republicans believe the Green family “enables” its thousands of (mostly female) employees and hundreds of thousands of (mostly female) customers. They should be believing that the female employees and customers are actually “enabling” the Green family, instead—-because the latter is economic reality. But, Republicans believe that those with the money get to make the rules.

        We no longer allow religion to prescribe discrimination on gender or on race—-regardless of what any church’s doctrine might say in support of such discrimination. Public sentiment is shifting toward seeing sexual orientation in the same manner. That conflicts with plenty of the religious people’s views because they see orientation as a behavior, not a trait of how people were created and born. Eventually, the six Catholics will be sent some more cases on this. They will most likely decide them whichever way the business community asks them to go—-a direction, by the way, that MAY be most businesses siding with the gays.

        • Tom

          It’s mutual enabling. Labor requires capital to avoid subsistence farming for everyone. Capital requires labor to be made use of.
          And the Green family, as it happened, were willing to provide 12 out of the 18 contraceptives under the mandate–they’re not Catholic, they’re Baptist. The other 6 are considered to be abortifacients.
          But because they did not wish to provide those six, they were the evilest evil that ever eviled.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I never called the Greens evil. I just believe the Court gives more weight to owners than to thousands and thousands of females who are making them billionaires. That’s a social problem in how this Court perceives reality.

          • Tom

            That last bit was not directed at you.
            However, given the facts of the case as presented above, I believe that the Court gave greater weight to the hardworking people who built a business than to government bureaucrats.

    • Gary Novak

      Before he was President, Professor Doofus taught in law school, but before that he went to law school– and learned that the “living Constitution” must never be allowed to interfere with the pursuit of “social justice” (as revealed by Critical Race Theory, etc.). As it turns out, Donald Sterling climbed the White House wall and secretly taped this conversation:

      Mayor Parker: But wouldn’t subpoenas be unconstitutional?

      Doofus: Of course not. Elections have consequences, and I won. You haven’t been paying attention. I don’t enforce laws I don’t like, and I do enforce stuff I do like– even if Congress hasn’t enacted it as law. My word is law! It’s called an executive order. So you just do what’s right and don’t worry– my Attorney General has your back. And my IRS. I got the Tea Party, and the preachers are next.

      Mayor Parker: Thank you, Mr. President. I can almost feel the oceans receding.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Donald Sterling?

        • Gary Novak

          I’ll try to answer your “question” if you’ll try a little harder to ask it.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The “Donald Sterling”?

          • Gary Novak

            I believe we’re referring to the same individual. What about him?

          • Gary Novak

            Well, it’s almost time for another Berger post, so let me wrap up this nonsense on Donald Sterling. Apparently, FriendlyGoat thinks enough has been said to convict me of racism for using Sterling in my fictional scenario: why would I invoke him if I were not willing to take his word as a reputable authority? Beacuase liberal democrats, racists, and ISIS beheaders all use recorders in the same way. And I stipulated that Sterling recorded a White House conversation. We got a recording, not a Sterling opinion piece. When American intelligence personnel receive videos of beheadings, they do not immediately burn them and wash their hands to avoid ritual pollution. They authenticate them and try to learn something from them. Of course, we can skip the step of authentication in a fiction. It’s stipulated.

            I used the image of an infirm, disgruntled racist– himself the victim of a secret recording– stealing across the White House lawn with a tape recorder to remind us once again of another area of Doofus incompetence: he can’t secure the borders of the White House any better than he can secure the borders of the country.

            If FriendlyGoat chose to raise, but not resolve, the issue of Donald Sterling, it is surely because he found it to be a convenient distraction from his failed claim of Obama’s respect for the Constitution. Enough said.

  • Corlyss

    “It is of course most striking in virtually all Muslim-majority countries. But there are many non-Muslim countries in which anti-gay attitudes are fierce and are increasingly enshrined in law. In sub-Saharan Africa one country after another has passed anti-gay legislation (with the exception of South Africa). The most ferocious was in Uganda, where the anti-gay campaign”

    After spending most of this year bombarded with the gay wars here in Utah, gosh I wish most of the activists would go to countries where there’s real gains to be made protecting gays from, you know, death, and more bad stuff than an inability to marry. They are soooooooooooooooo tiresome!

    • FriendlyGoat

      Wasn’t it activists from your side who went to those other countries to help them pass anti-gay laws there? The activists you want rid of would rather fight you here, and win here, as they are doing.

  • Curious Mayhem

    It’s simple: President Empty Suit is America’s highest and mightiest case of affirmative action, of being promoted far beyond one’s competence.

    He was an undistinguished law professor briefly and even more undistinguished as president of Harvard Law Review (not editor, president — a figurehead position).

    Fortunately, we do have a constitution and judges generally willing to enforce it, including against the thuggery of city hall.

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