The forces of intolerance are on the march, and unless they are stopped, they will forbid every American from disagreeing with their narrow understanding of reality. They will allow no discussion about how we can all live together despite different interests and beliefs. Like Big Brother in 1984, they will train children to watch their families and their churches and to report them to the government or to the ideological news media, as appropriate.
Writing in The American Interest (spotted via Instapundit), Michael Needham describes the attack on religious freedom in America. On marriage, for example, Needham describes the traditional or conservative view as not only founded in religious texts and human history, but also in the observation that traditional marriages provide the best environment in which to raise children:
This is the conservative perspective. It has become, somewhat surprisingly, a controversial one these days, to be sure, and it’s one that supporters of same-sex marriage reject entirely. But at this stage of the debate, Americans who hold these views don’t expect those on the other side of the debate to be persuaded on the merits, at least in the short term. The Left has already won on marriage, after all, at the Supreme Court, and a constitutional amendment or Supreme Court reversal doesn’t seem to be in the cards for now. So what matters now is not so much whether the conservative perspective will win out but rather whether it will even be tolerated in polite society. …
[If not, it] would mean creating a culture that makes good people and institutions out to be evil, teaching our children that the friendly Catholic neighbors across the street are morally suspect, that the religious immigrant family warrants suspicion for bringing alien, socially conservative values into the community, that those bearing Bibles shouldn’t be trusted by Americans who believe in the gospel of tolerance.
As experience should have suggested that it would, the Left isn’t taking its assault in reasonable steps meant to move the culture a comfortable step at a time, but pressing its advantage. Late this week for example, Rhode Island Catholic middle and high school Mount Saint Charles came under fire not for having taken any discriminatory action, but for updating its admission policies to address the apparently hypothetical situation of admitting transgender students going forward.
The stated reason is that the school “is unable to make accommodations for transgender students,” suggesting that the preemptive policy is less a conflict over identity than a question of what principles the school might be forced to violate for said accommodations — say, with bathrooms or locker rooms. I’ve been given by a reliable source to understand that the school has had transgendered students in the past, so the new policy may reflect not even a bias, but a fear that the legal environment is changing. A school with no policy may find itself without defense now, while in the past it has been able to consider every student on a case-by-case basis when it comes to such sensitive issues of identity and belief.
It’s been reported that the initial expressions of the predictable outrage came from “young alumni,” and reading through online comments and social media posts shows a disconcerting belief that the policy should be a legal matter ripe for lawsuits and a stark faith that there is simply no explanation besides bigotry and animus. That is, they cannot conceive of a reason for the policy that is substantially different than simple Jim Crow racism. And this from young adults who attended the school. (N.B. I haven’t seen any indication that alumni are anything but surprised at their own snap conclusion. That is, they aren’t alleging that this is a continuation of policy, but rather a regression.)
This is what the popular culture and the public school systems are teaching. And the immediate lesson is that those of us who see it for what it is (and the schools that uphold our religious worldview) have to offer a countering approach, plan, and rulebook in every forum we can find, especially in schools.
The lessons have to go beyond specific teachings about things like identity, sexuality, and marriage. They have to include lessons on the appropriate way to live together in a pluralistic society, respecting others while holding firm to one’s own beliefs. For one, taking to the Internet in order to present those with whom you disagree as the “other” shouldn’t be the first recourse, if it is a recourse at all. Rather, the first step should be seeking explanation with the implicit expectation that there could actually be a legitimate one.
Unfortunately, even many of those who are under attack and willing to resist don’t seem to understand what’s at stake. If we fail now, our principle that people should be treated as our brothers and sisters, as individuals, will be overwhelmed with the principle that people divide up into categories and should be excluded and driven out of society if they are in the wrong ones.
Even those who are willing to capitulate on some of the social or political questions must begin looking forward to the end game, which is that we will be forbidden from expressing and passing along our understanding of the world, which, for those of us who are Christian, has consequences for our eternal souls.