First, my concern and that of the Cornerstone Forum is with culture, not politics, and our concern with culture has to do with the enormous role it plays in preconditioning our lives and predisposing us to live and thinking and behave in one way or another. Culture -- or at least one significant aspect of culture -- was what St. Paul was talking about when he warned the Roman Christians to "be not conformed to the spirit of this age." Or, to turn to the trope with which the Book of Revelation begins, every institution as a "presiding spirit," and those who participate in the life of that institution as significantly influenced by that spirit.
SO . . . culture matters. And politics -- especially today -- matters precisely because it shapes and gives legal and moral legitimacy to cultural trends in sundry ways.
That's one point, the second is that in a prior post I followed Rich Lowry's suggestion that some today "desperately need to believe" in certain crises, such as the global warming one. Believe me, I have no such need when it comes to the crises that haunt me: the moral crisis of millions of children been killed in the womb; the religious indifference and renunciation of natality that is sealing Europe's fate; the anthropological absurdity, moral incoherence, and cultural recklessness of destroying the institution of marriage in the name of extending its definition. The list could go on, but my point is that I would be overjoyed if these crises disappeared tomorrow and I could get back to reading and thinking and writing and speaking about the interrelationship between theology and anthropology -- which is what the Cornerstone Forum and I has as our mission.
That said, what follows is a little sampler of thoughts on one of the most troubling features of the spirit of this age.
Ken Blackwell, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, had a piece in the American Spectator today. Here’s part of what he had to say:
President Obama is big on civility. He talks a very good game. But his nominee for a top slot at the Department of Justice -- Dawn Johnsen -- is a leading exponent of incivility. Johnsen worked with the ACLU for years. And she joined ARM -- the so-called Abortion Rights Mobilization -- to strip the Catholic Church of its tax-exempt status because of its pro-life advocacy. The Catholic Church eventually won that case -- but not until it had spent years and millions of dollars defending itself. The Catholic Church was just the biggest ARM target. If it had succeeded against the Catholics, it surely would have come after the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod. . . .
In North Carolina, the Catholic college Belmont Abbey is threatened with closure for its refusal to dispense contraceptives. Radicals are not impressed with the college president's response: We don't give contraceptives to women staffers -- or to the monks! Here, the local branch of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission smells discrimination.
In Washington, President Obama's nominee to the federal EEOC, Prof. Chai Feldblum of Georgetown University, is blunt: If there's a clash between the gay agenda and religious liberty, your liberties lose. If confirmed, she would be in position to pursue the pogrom nationwide. . .
On the West Coast, the Christian Legal Society (CLS) is under assault from the Hastings Law Center of the University of California. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Christian Legal Society v. Martinez this term. Radicals are trying to force CLS to accept officers who are openly homosexual. David French, speaking for the pro-family Alliance Defense Fund, says: "The Left is trying to create a right that destroys a right. . . .
Creating rights to destroy rights. That sums it up well. . . .In Great Britain the same screws are being tightened in the same direction. Matthew Hanley reports:
In the United Kingdom, a sweeping piece of proposed legislation known as the “Equality Bill” sought to install various homosexual “rights” and cast opposition to them as discrimination. Benedict XVI said it would have imposed “unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.” Here in northern California, one cannot go far without also encountering that same code word – Equality – on lawn signs and bumper stickers.
It is no coincidence that the same word is employed to further the same broad agenda. It should not be surprising to learn that Spain’s socialist government had “equality” in mind when it recently imposed an educational curriculum that openly states that “nature has given us sex so we can use it with another girl, with a boy or with an animal.”It keeps getting worse. Jim Hoft has a piece today in his Gateway Pundit on the “Safe Schools Czar.”
The democrats in Congress are moving closer to passing the most radical anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-family bill through Congress that we have seen in decades. . . .
HR4530 is a radical Safe Schools Czar’s dream come true.
Forget reading, writing and arithmetic, Democrats have more important subjects in mind for your child. Democrats are working to push HR 4530 through Congress. This bill will force educators to prohibit harassment, violence and discrimination faced by students based on their sexual orientation. That doesn’t sound so bad, but that’s not all it does. The bill will also allows educators and education officials like Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings to push their radical agenda in the classroom. And, if you don’t like the new policies or object to the program, the bill authorizes the federal government to cut off the educational assistance to schools that fail to enforce the new rules. Critics of the bill understand the law would give the controversial Safe Schools Czar, Kevin Jennings, almost unlimited authority to mandate sexual indoctrination in public schools at taxpayer expense. It won’t matter what your child is taught at home, this bill will allow radical educators to push their agenda in public schools despite your possible concerns. . . .
According to Metro Weekly:
The bill would require that no student in public schools be “excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance” based on the student’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill also would prohibit harassment based on either characteristic.
It sounds innocent enough until you look at its real intent.
The purpose of this bill is not what is being stated, but is quite simply to mandate in public schools one acceptable viewpoint on the issue of homosexuality, using purported violence or harassment as the rationale, and the power of the feds as the hammer. The goal is to silence those who may warn about or object to student expression of homosexuality or gender confusion… The federal governmental intrusion and sweeping new unregulated powers in what are local and state matters are proposed in this bill. Enforcement will primarily be through federal agencies, which will craft new regulations to back up this bill’s provisions with the President’s approval. . . .
In other words, if you oppose radical sexual material detailing sex between first graders or promoting S&M but the Safe Schools Czar or some other official believes it is appropriate- tough. If you disagree with books romanticizing child rape or books with pictures of men having sex- tough. If you oppose weekend student-teacher seminars with fisting lectures and gay bar guides- tough. If government officials want to promote this in your child’s classroom then you’ll just have to get used to it.
No one wants to see a child picked on, harrassed or ridiculed, but this bill takes government control to a whole new level. It is a radical’s dream come true. This bill is a direct assault on our nation’s moral fabric.Which leads us, logically, to these reflections by Mary Eberstadt:
Truth isn’t always stranger than fiction. Sometimes, the facts just run obscenely ahead of one’s darkest fantasies.
Consider the matter of Kevin Jennings, the Obama administration’s positively Orwellian choice to head the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
Even the worst pessimists watching Washington, D.C., these days could not have predicted that the ostensible goal of keeping America’s children “safe” in school would come to this. A homosexual activist with a vigorous public record of loathing the religious right — including in words that cannot be repeated in a family newspaper — he is also the founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the single most effective activist group working to sexualize the next generation of America’s children at ever-younger ages.
By “sexualize,” to be specific, I mean what anyone in GLSEN would approve: the proposition that teaching children from kindergarten on up about sex, especially the varieties of homosexual sex, is a good and empowering and liberating thing for kids. Like the consequences of telling kids not to put beans in their noses, the constant bombardment with such sexual material cannot help but put ideas in impressionable minds.
Yet such bombardment is this Education Department official’s life work. Whether in his activism or in his books like “Telling Tales Out of School: Gays, Lesbians, and Bisexuals Revisit Their School Days,” Jenning’s work has consistently aimed at two objectives: forcing not only the normalization but also the celebration of homosexuality on captive public school children from the baby-tooth set on up; and creating an atmosphere in which any children whose parents and churches teach them otherwise are afraid to say so.Eberstadt then reflects on the difference between what Thomas Aquinas termed “righteous anger” and the vengeful and impotent forms of venting and ad hominem slurs for which the blogosphere is such a convenient outlet. However important and virtuous it is to avoid the latter, doing so is no excuse for suppressing a legitimate outrage at the massive attack on conventional moral and cultural norms and traditions that, if unchecked, will imperil the emotional, moral and spiritual lives of our children's children.
Meanwhile, bloated with the wrong kind of anger, we stint on the kind that might actually do some good: “Everything turns away / Quite leisurely from the disaster,” as W.H. Auden observed in a poem on Pieter Breughel’s painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.”
And so it is in Washington as the founder of GLSEN continues to bring his sexually charged messages to the public schools. Many people saw something incredible — an activist who wrote the forward to “Queering Elementary Education,” which details “the importance of including (homo)sexualities in elementary schools,” now put in charge of the well-being of children.
And instead of getting angry in the right way, many simply moved on.