THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND WAS BORN because King Henry VIII was religiously forbidden to marry as he wished.
The United States today and much of the rest of the former British Empire is today predominantly Protestant, not Roman Catholic, because of this schism caused by one man’s divorce and re-marriage.
But today the Church of England, with 70 million Anglican Communicants worldwide, may be on the verge of breaking apart over the issue of who may marry whom.
If the Anglican and closely related Episcopal churches accept, perform or sanctify same-sex marriages, conservative members and even member-nation churches now threaten to split away.
The foremost wedge driving this split at the moment is the liberal state Canadian Church, one of whose Bishops has already published a marriage rite for homosexual couples. The first “officially sanctioned” Anglican same-sex “wedding” has already been conducted in Vancouver.
A spokesman for the Canadian Church, wrote Thursday’s London Telegraph, said that the church, in a country where same-sex marriage now has equal legal status with heterosexual marriage, was merely trying “to recognize the status quo in Canada, rather than make a final ruling on the morality of homosexuality.”
A collision and crack-up seems inevitable. On one side are the conservatives of a church arguably born of politics who now stand on tradition and the Bible, the Book of Leviticus and all.
On the other side are liberals whose faith is much more Politically Correct and politically accommodating in how they select and interpret the Scriptures. To such liberal theologians scripture is infinitely malleable and subject to revision. (The Methodist Church, e.g., has just launched a contest to reward whichever young person can concoct the best “11th Commandment.”)
This collision-prone intersection of faith (the Highway to Heaven) and politics (State Highway 666) is a dangerous place to stand, especially for middle-of-the-roaders.
This intersection is a place to recall William F. Buckley, Jr.’s definition of a moderate – that if liberals engaged in cannibalism and conservatives denounced cannibalism as sin and abomination, a moderate would be someone who ate only selected people on limited occasions.
As Mel Gibson’s breathtaking film of faith “The Passion of the Christ” reminds us, Jesus was put to death because he was impolitic – that is, uncompromising. And His example forced and still forces the consciences of the rest of us to face our own worldly political compromises.
When asked whether to pay the tax demanded by the brutal, occupying Romans, Jesus fully understood the trap his questioner intended. If He said “Pay the Tax,” Jesus could thereafter be called a Roman supporter or collaborator. If He said “Do not pay the Tax,” Jesus would be guilty of sedition and subject to Roman arrest.
“Whose image is on your coins?” Jesus asked his interrogator.
“Caesar’s,” came the reply.
Well, then, said Jesus, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s.”
No collaboration. No sedition. Just the clean, perfect blow of truth’s sword, sharper than Ockham’s Razor, sundering the Gordian Knot that tied and enslaved people to politics and to Caesar. And implicit in Jesus’ reply was a subtle reminder that, once again, people who should worship God were being seduced by graven images of silver, gold and worldly power.
The United States practices separation of church and state, we are told, by honoring the First Amendment requirement that government make no “Establishment of religion,” no government-favored or official State church.
This Jeffersonian ideal is, of course, untrue. The Internal Revenue Service designates some entities as approved churches and grants them tax exemptions. Were I to create Lowell Ponte’s Church of the Great Carrot, I would get no such favored exemption from taxes.
Worse, during President Bill Clinton’s reign of anti-religious intimidation a small church in Vestal, New York, that dared publicly to call his behavior sinful was stripped of its Federal tax exemption. “The power to tax,” as Chief Justice John Marshall wrote in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), “involves the power to destroy.”
By turning what had been seen as the carrot of tax exemption into a stick, Clinton threatened and cowed the faithful with his view that ALL churches were expected to behave like de facto State churches.
Churches that questioned the morality of the government or the king – er, President – could suffer severe financial punishment and perhaps extinction. But churches that kept silent in the face of governmental wickedness were, by their silence, giving tacit assent to that wickedness.
By his outrageous display of government power to chill the free speech and moral preaching of pastors, priests and rabbis, Clinton turned America’s churches into “un-churches,” taking at gunpoint from churches and synagogues their moral role in society…unless they were willing to risk financial martyrdom by criticizing Caesar.
(In secular, Darwinian terms, these government-punished churches who dared “to speak truth to power” would suffer a competitive disadvantage for survival in competition with other churches, in part because their parishioners could no longer deduct church contributions from their taxes.)
In the wake of Clinton’s arrogant attack on religious free speech, government has also tightened its political power over religion in other ways. To cite one example among hundreds, the California Supreme Court has just ruled that Catholic Charities, a part of the Roman Catholic Church, must provide contraceptives coverage in any package of medical care insurance services provided to its employees.
In response to the argument that a religious organization should be exempt from an order to violate its own faith-based opposition to contraception, the judges smugly ruled that Catholic Charities is not a religious organization. (Catholic Charities could comply by terminating all health coverage for all employees, thereby treating all employees equally, liberals take note.)
Last Thursday President George W. Bush via satellite addressed the National Association of Evangelicals Convention in Colorado. The President affirmed his opposition to abortion. He said he would continue to support and defend the partial-birth abortion ban he signed into law, a law immediately blocked by three Leftist Federal judges.
“I will defend the sanctity of marriage against activist courts and local officials who want to redefine marriage,” the President told the evangelical gathering. “The union of a man and a woman is the most enduring human institution. I support a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”
This intersection of faith and politics will thus be a major battlefield leading up to November’s election.
What makes this battle fascinating is that in the past politicians embraced the advice of Renaissance political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli – that the Prince must appear to be religious. Even atheist office-seekers usually made an outward pretense of faith and piety.
But in 2004 our society has become so secular – with by one estimate 30 percent of our population no longer attending religious services nor professing any deep commitment to a religious faith – that the godless have entered this battlefield without their usual disguises.
On March 9 a gathering at Washington, D.C.’s National Press Club announced the creation of GAMPAC, the “Godless Americans Political Action Committee.” The new lobbying organization has been formed to counter the influence of the religious Right – and presumably the religious Left as well.
“We are Atheists, Freethinkers, Rationalists, and Secular Humanists,” said spokeswoman Ellen Johnson. She told the Press Club and C-SPAN audience that if the godless came together, they would outnumber every church in America – except the 50 million members of the Roman Catholic Church and 33 million Baptists.
“You have to wonder about folks who believe so strongly in nothing that they organize their lives around it,” wrote OpinionJournal.com’s sardonic James Taranto. “Just as the line between censoriousness and prurience is often hard to discern, aggressive unbelief would seem to be an unwitting testament to the power of religious ideas.”
But this battle is not between religion and nothingness. When people abandon their old faith, they do not thereafter believe in nothing. They believe in anything – from New Age mysticism to UFOs to the pseudo-religious cult of Marxism. The showdown this November will be between the Old Time religions.
The aim of GAMPAC is purportedly to give godless Americans “a place at the table” politically, said Johnson. But they already have one of the two biggest places.
Millions of Democratic voters are people of devout faith, as are most Republicans. But as this column documented, those who instead believe in occultism, UFOs, paganism, agnosticism and atheism tend overwhelmingly to be Democrats. It is no coincidence that the anti-religious politics of the elite that controls the Democratic Party serves this godless and pagan constituency.
When you read that Christmas symbols were forbidden last year in New York City public schools, or that California public schoolchildren are being taught that Christianity is evil and Islam is good, or that teachers insist that Christian and Jewish children must be taught that the Bible’s Book of Genesis is wrong, you need never doubt for an instant that nearly all the government employees doing these things are Democrats.
When, as in recent days, you see ABC television airing a drama that misquotes and degrades Jesus while depicting Judas Iscariot as a sympathetic figure – and a History Channel documentary doing much the same – rest assured that most of the people producing this propaganda are Democrats.
The Nazis implemented policies to undermine Christianity and remove Judaism because they knew these old religions had to be removed from the public square before their sick new National Socialist faith could replace it. Today’s Marxists and other socialists are trying to bulldoze Christianity and Judaism from society for exactly the same reason. They want their own humanist, Leftist religion to become dominant.
Politics is no longer limited to questions of taxing or spending or foreign relations. Democrats are pushing politics into every nook and cranny of our lives, from what we may speak aloud to how big our fast-food hamburger is allowed to be. And because they believe in separation of church and state, on the day Democrats complete their takeover of the entire public square, they will demand that religion – at least your religion and mine – vanish altogether.
(Thomas Jefferson favored Separation of Church and State, too, but he also wanted government to remain very, very, very small. Notice how today’s Democrat socialists do not embrace the whole of Jefferson’s political philosophy.)
“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god,” wrote Jefferson. “It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
In that spirit Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom to prohibit any state religion that would empower the official church to tax the pockets of Baptists or Jews or atheists, or to break the legs of nonconformists as had often happened in Europe.
Jefferson wanted to prevent a theocracy, political rule by one church, both to secure individual liberty and freedom for a wide diversity of beliefs.
But the threat Jefferson would recognize today is not theocracy but atheistocracy, rule by the godless over the godly via the pretext of separation of church and state.
These secular humanist atheistocrats lack the honesty to acknowledge that they are trying to impose their own state religion and to force all competing faiths out of the public square. And they want their Marxist-socialist dogma to have the power both to pick your pocket and to break your leg through the power of the state.
The political battle before us is therefore a religious battle for the soul of America. The Democrats have shown a willingness to use every weapon available, including police state surveillance against a Roman Catholic Cardinal, a systematic hate campaign to purge the Boy Scouts from the public square, and much, much more.
If Democrats win, get ready to see here what recently happened in secular-socialist Italy. The Pope was sued by a Muslim activist on grounds that the Pontiff violated the Italian Constitution by suggesting that Christianity might be a better religion than Islam.
If Democrats win, get ready to see St. Patrick’s Day replaced by some secular holiday dedicated to greenness, the environment, and the wisdom of the Druids and wiccans Christianity cruelly replaced. (The first step will be his secularization to mere “Patrick,” in the same way a U.S. postage stamp years ago snipped off the “St.” when honoring “Francis of Assisi.”) Get ready for a restore-the-environment movement dedicated to bringing back the snakes that legend says St. Patrick drove out of Ireland.
Does this sound far-fetched? Atheistic, agnostic and humanist organizations this year launched a five-year media project to celebrate the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin in 2009 with the creation of February 12th as “Darwin Day,” an annual holiday (whoops, that’s a contraction of “Holy Day”).
This Darwin Day could be used for contemplating how we arose by evolution from primordial slime on a godless hunk of rock hurtling without meaning or purpose around a mediocre star soon to burn out in a near-eternal void of frigid darkness.
This realm dominated by science and socialism is an amoral world without love or transcendence in which everything is politics, red in tooth and claw, and eating your neighbor can be easily justified by the predatory class warfare of Democrats. (At least it’s all ours, free from any religious judgement, Leftists will say. Who needs God when you have the arbitrary ethics of Political Correctness?)This November might be your last chance to vote on which of these two planets and universes you and your grandchildren will inhabit. If Democrats win, the future will be Darwinian and Atheistocratic.