Traditional Moral Positions and the Public Square

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Freedom of Speech (painting)

Freedom of Speech (painting) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Canada, it is a crime to publicly assert that practicing homosexuality is a sin. In my ethics class, students regularly write on their essays that being a virgin until marriage is “prudish,” and they do not take seriously the traditional view that couples should refrain from sexual intercourse until marriage. In many academic settings, those who believe abortion to be morally wrong are silenced, to the point that the University Faculty for Life presents an option to its members to hide their membership in the organization so that their colleagues do not find out. The notion that there is objective right and wrong is excluded from most public schools, and moral relativism is taught as the gospel truth (and teaching it as such is, of course a contradiction).

It is true that freedom of speech does not, as the old saw goes, give anyone the right to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Surely being morally opposed to abortion or to practicing homosexuality or to premarital sex is not the equivalent to shouting “Fire!” Yet such opinions are being increasingly excluded from the public square, in academic institutions first, and then in the wider society.

I believe in academic freedom. If a student or faculty member wishes to defend the moral rightness of premarital sex, of practicing homosexuality, or of abortion, that student or faculty member should be allowed to have a say in the university square. But academic freedom also implies that those with the opposite views on these issues should be allowed to make their case. I am a conservative, but if a liberal student makes a strong case for his position, he will get a good grade on his test and will not be punished for his views. The situation should be the same for a conservative student who makes a good defense of his position in a class with a liberal professor. To give them credit, some liberal professors do give their students such academic freedom and believe in such for their colleagues. There is a subset of professors, however, who want to silence conservative voices, especially on controversial moral issues. Such violation of freedom of speech has taken place in some institutions of higher education, to the point that a professor in one school who presented a natural law argument against homosexual practice (and did not even claim to agree with the argument) was fired–until a court awarded him his job back. The problem is that he should not have lost his job in the first place. What is going on is that hostile rhetoric against moral conservatives is repeated so much that people begin to believe it (“they are haters,” “these people are filled with anger,” etc.). I have never understood why holding moral action A to be wrong implies hating the person who performs moral action A. I wish I could say that such an ignorant position prevails only in academia, but it is present in broader society. More and more the elites in academia, the media, and in Hollywood, are attempting to exclude traditional moral discourse from legitimate discussion and to push their views onto society as a whole. It may be just a matter of time before the United States goes the direction that Canada has gone (depending on election results, court appointees, etc.) and makes illegal conservative moral discourse on abortion and on sexual ethics. I wonder who the real narrow minded people are, the real bigots, the real haters. I would venture a guess that most of them are not moral conservatives.

Compassionate Totalitarianism

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Communist propaganda - Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu

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The Left believes it knows what is best for others–and those who do not agree are simply ignorant of what the “experts” know. Usually the “experts” are in the highly sheltered world of academia where ideas that otherwise would only be accepted by someone in an insane asylum are routinely supported–ideas ranging from offering only palliative care to the elderly to bestiality. I confess that I am a part of that academic world, but I can also say from first hand experience that it is sheltered from the real world. It is easy, from the confines of an academic position, to pontificate on the best form of government or economics. When liberal Democrats or neoconservative (i.e., pseudoconservative) Republicans try to apply these ideas to real public policy, disaster results. In the name of compassion those in Arizona who pass a law in line with federal immigration law are persecuted by the federal government for trying to control their borders. In the name of compassion the United States has forced millions of people into a situation in which they are permanently dependent on the government. In the name of compassion children were bussed at 4 a.m. from their homes to schools many miles from their neighborhoods in order to achieve the abstract idea of “racial balance.” In the name of compassion (to protect Americans from terrorists) the government can spy on its own people, view them naked in an x-ray, and touch them in places that in other contexts would be considered to be sexual assault. In the name of compassion for groups the Left has sanctified, good people, both men and women, people of various races, have been fired from jobs in academia for questioning the zeitgeist of the Left, especially on issues such as homosexuality. In the name of compassion a pharmacist who disagrees with abortion is forced either to give a woman an abortificant drug or lose his job. In Canada, in the name of compassion and tolerance for homosexuals, a pastor who preaches against the moral acceptability of homosexuality can be (and one was) arrested. In the name of compassion organs are routinely taken from the “brain dead” by doctors who know that the donors have been declared dead due to a law that was proposed for the chief purpose of increasing the number of available donors. Now in the name of compassion people who are not dead are declared dead after two minutes of heart stoppage to take their organs.

I predict in the future someone will propose that churches, in the name of compassion and tolerance, lose their tax-exempt status if they do not ordain women to the ministry. Eventually the loss of tax exempt status may spread to churches who refuse to ordain practicing homosexuals. Sadly, one day, in the name of compassion and tolerance traditional Christians, as they were in the days of the pre-Constantinian Roman Empire, will be jailed for expressing traditional standards of morality. Liberalism deals with abstractions–its drive for the abstraction of “equality” knows no limits–and the lust of its adherents for power to impose their vision of the good onto the “ignorant masses” knows no limits. In the end, leftism becomes a lust for power and domination–in the name of compassion.

Will Traditional Christians be Persecuted in the United States?

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The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer, Oil on canvas

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Attacks on the values of traditional Christians (and Jews and Muslims) appear constantly in the mainstream media. A Roman Catholic professor in Illinois is fired due to his presentation of the natural law argument against practicing homosexuality in his class. Just north of our border in Canada, it is illegal for anyone to speak against homosexual practice, including preachers in the pulpit. Violators are arrested for “hate speech.” Churches in California opposing homosexuality have been physically attacked by radical homosexuals. Those who affirm that abortion is murder are routinely mocked by the media and Hollywood. In some fields, such as academia, you must be careful to whom you speak about traditional moral values. If the government ever rules out some traditional values as “hate speech,” as Canada has, then the United States will be in the business of persecuting traditional Christians. We are teetering on the edge of an abyss of darkness, with the nation divided about 50-50 between two hostile value systems. I am concerned that in the future, intolerance in the name of tolerance will be enshrined in law. If this is not done by Congress with the help of a radical president, it may be accomplished by radical judges on the federal bench.

Although such a situation would be tragic for freedom of expression in the United States, it may end up separating the wheat from the chaff among Christians. Christians who have rejected their Christianity and still call themselves Christians (theologically and morally liberal Roman Catholics and Protestants) are irrelevant anyway–they might as well be militant atheists. But among members of traditional groups, those who would rather go along with the crowd will leave the church in droves when persecution comes. But the wheat, those dedicated to what is right no matter what, will, like Medieval monks, keep a dim light of remaining Christian civilization alive. I hope the country does not reach that stage. But it is difficult to reverse the trends of the 1960s, and after 1968 there was such a radical cultural shift I’m not sure it can be reversed. The scum of 1968 and its intellectual descendants now control the academy and most of the media. To this point, traditionalists have helped check the decline–but the battle has been two steps forward, three steps back. I suppose part of the problem is the nature of fallen man–it is easier to be bad than to be good. When intellectuals and the media offer excuses for someone to be bad, that person’s natural tendency is to say “Sure” and act on moral evil. I do not claim moral purity; I have made many mistakes in my life–but I do not claim that what I did was morally right simply because I did it, which is the tendency of morally rebellious Americans. These Americans resent traditional Christians and other traditionalists challenging their lifestyle, and they desire to silence them. If ordinary intimidation does not work, they will make use of the law. The time may not come in this country where Christians, like St. Peter and St. Paul, sing hymns from a prison cell. Yet it may, and may God help us if it does.