The Faith That Dare Not Speak It’s Claim
My, my, my…how things have changed since the World turned upside down…
From a recent Mark Steyn column, where he demolishes a Dupe’s juvenile rantings [image mine]:
Apropos the forced resignations of American town and county clerks who are practicing Christians, Jason Mayo writes from Bowdoinham, Maine:
And, one must ask, what of the 14th Amendment–equal protection under the law? Is not the brilliance of the Constitution evident in its protection of the individual from the practice of religion in the PUBLIC square? Sometimes you lose me, Sir. I hope all may practice any religion they wish, but, privately; religion has no merit in the workings of a secular state. Your thinking is fucked up on this one.
A couple of thoughts, and a word of advice: Saying “fuck” in public was mildly transgressive half-a-century ago and required indeed a certain personal courage (my Telegraph colleague Sir Peregrine Worsthorne was famously denied the paper’s editorship because he was the second or third person to utter the word on British television). But I’m so bored by it now: it’s part of the general descent into snarling inarticulacy. Don’t you think it’s time our age invented some new, genuinely transgressive words? Everything is Caitlyned up? It’s all Dolazeled to hell?
Where was I? Oh, yeah. If you think the Constitution is about “protection of the individual from the practice of religion in the public square”, you should try reading it once in a while. Until the 1960s Christian prayers were offered in public school – and then some judges decided that the Constitution, which had hitherto meant one thing for nearly two centuries, now meant something else entirely. By separation of church and state, the founders meant no more than that they didn’t want President Washington being Supreme Governor of the Church of America and the Archbishop of Virginia sitting in the United States Senate, as today HM The Queen is Supreme Governor of the Church of England and the Archbishop of York sits in the House of Lords. If you had suggested to them that it means you are not to be exposed to “the practice of religion” in the public square, they’d have thought you were nuts – because, by that definition, there’s no point to religion. It’s just a hymn-sing and a homily.
The same applies to your phrase “the workings of a secular state”. What do you mean by “state”? The government? Or the nation? Or some definition in between – the entire public space of a nation as micro-regulated by government enforcers?
In the end, no constitution is an abstraction – hence the ludicrous pretzel opinions of Kennedy and Roberts. For most of human history, a society has been no more than what it happens to be: Sweden is where Swedes happen to be; Tuvalu is where Tuvaluans happen to be. The state paperwork either reflects that naturally, or has, as in the case of America’s constitutional court, to be tortured into alignment with it. But all we’re talking about in the end is changes in fashion: Once homosexuals were on the outs, and their lives were lived discreetly, and their stories were untold in mainstream culture; now they’re cool and all over the TV. Today observant Christians are on the outs, and they’re enjoined to live their lives discreetly, away from “the public square”, and, unless they’re the designated hypocritical paedo in some TV drama, they’ll increasingly be banished from mainstream culture. This is not about principles or constitutions. It’s about fashion and it’s about power – as it always has been. As we see in this country’s increasingly tribal identity politics, even a theoretical commitment to “diversity” and “tolerance” and “equal protection” is unsustainable in practice. Day by day what matters less and less is that you are a citizen equal before the law but what priviliged societal groups you can claim membership of. That’s power politics, tribal politics. As we’ll surely see one day when a Muslim bakery gets asked to bake a gay cake. Good luck to Anthony Kennedy with that one.
Dead solid perfect.
Hold the Mayo…in contempt.
If buttercups buzz’d after the bee
If boats were on land, churches on sea
If ponies rode men and if grass ate the cows
And cats should be chased into holes by the mouse
If the mamas sold their babies
To the Gypsies for half a crown
If summer were spring
And the other way ’round
Then all the world would be upside down!
Oh, it is…it is.