This time of the year is when Americans celebrate their religious foundation. The overwhelming majority of Americans are Christian and celebrate Christmas, the most important day on the Christian calendar. Jewish Americans celebrate Hanukah, which commemorates the victory of religious liberty over pagan authoritarianism.
Sadly, in the year 2016, religion finds itself under unprecedented assault in a nation founded upon the Judeo-Christian tradition, and, in the words of Sam Adams, a nation founded as the last “asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.”
In just one generation, we have gone from a nation that downright fosters (but doesn’t coerce) religious virtue to a nation that doesn’t even tolerate religious adherence deeply rooted in our history and tradition with one’s own private property. How did we drift from the sentiment of our very first president — that it is impossible that “morality can be maintained without religion” — to the expungement of all public religious symbols from our public places? How have we deviated from the days of Madison when conscience was regarded as “the most sacred of all property” to having no conscience or property rights?
A more secular culture should not engender political paganism
There is no denying the fact that, unfortunately, American culture itself has become much more secular, even ignoring the secular trends in our body politic and legal structure. That the fabric of our society as a whole will be more secular than it has been since our Founding is already a reality. But that pagan ideals should become the law of the land and enshrined into our Constitution and legal structure is not a logical or imperative outcome of a relatively more secular society. It is the result of coerced debauchery from a secular judicial theocracy that has legislated immorality from the bench.
In other words, we might be far from the days when a majority of people unflinchingly understood the truth expressed by Justice Joseph Story that “Piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well-being of that state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice.” However, that doesn’t mean our society supports the legal profession’s effort to banish all religious references and monuments from our state, redefine the Constitution and marriage for all 50 states, and promote transgenderism. And it most certainly doesn’t mean that most people support the notion that private citizens should be coerced to violate their conscience with their own property or business.
Yet, even those who officially try to abide by God’s word and support the Constitution as it was originally conceived have become so diffident in our own views that we needlessly acquiesce to the most radical agenda items of the cultural Marxists under the false pretense that the transformed society supports and even demands such change. It is this inferiority complex and a false sense of defeat among the religious community in this country (along with phony Republicans supposedly representing them) that has allowed the Left to win 50-year culture wars overnight without firing a shot.
It’s not just that social conservatives won’t even fight in any meaningful way for social conservatism. Instead, social conservatism itself is long gone. By social conservatism, I mean the principles expressed by people like Benjamin Rush that “the only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” Or the truism of Sam Adams that “Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness.”
No, Allah forbid anyone within the Republican Party to ever stand for such things in this day and age. But one would at least expect them to fight for social libertarianism and the preservation of natural law, federalism, and governance by the consent of the governed. We don’t even have enough people who care to fight for the right of private individuals to worship according to our founding beliefs.
The shocking indifference following the 2015 Supreme Court massacre
It’s been 18 months since Obergefell, when the court redefined the building block of all civilization from the bench. The ramifications of this decision regarding our system of government, inalienable rights, and religious liberty are devastating. Yet, shockingly, there has been no organized revolution to fight back against judicial tyranny despite the torrent of religious liberty problems spawned by the court decision since 2015.
This was perhaps the worst decision ever made by the Supreme Court in terms of the violence it does to our system of governance. Obviously, we are not talking about deadly outcomes like Roe or slavery in the case of Dred Scott, but in terms of the ramifications to our system of government, no case more is detrimental than Obergefell. If a court can now redefine the most foundational and immutable laws of nature and mandate that outcome on the rest of the federal government and all 50 states — and be regarded as the final and exclusive “law of the land” — then there is nothing the courts cannot do. They are now the judge, jury, and executioner of our entire system of government and civil society.
Moreover, as I explain in chapter three of Stolen Sovereignty, the decision is now leading to the gradual but steady trend of criminalizing religion. The litmus test for determining whether an asserted liberty interest is a fundamental right was always whether that act was “deeply rooted in our history and traditions.” Yet, the homosexual agenda, which is antithetical to a right deeply rooted in history and tradition, is now forcing Judea-Christian adherence — which (like it or not) is manifestly rooted in our history and tradition — to yield before its ever evolving tenets.
Thus, we see courts mandating individuals to service the homosexual agenda with their private businesses while forcing taxpayers to fund Planned Parenthood, a private entity under investigation for selling baby parts. Schools are being forced to treat boys like girls. Pharmacies are being forced to sell every type of contraception known to man, even when those products are all available elsewhere within a few miles. Puny lower courts judges are forcing towns to rip down monuments of the Ten Commandments.
Consequently, it’s not just that the political elites, led by the legal profession, have succeeded in accelerating the transformation from a faith-based society and government to one built upon paganism. It is now coercing adherence to its agenda.
Liberal secularists like to think of their ideology as the ultimate guardian of freedom.
Liberty thrived with a religious foundation, which is a prerequisite for a civil society
Even at the pinnacle of religious observance in this country, nobody was ever coerced to service religion if they personally chose to live a secular life. Yet, paganism, like other theocracies that existed before the American republic, seems to be incompatible with freedom even as it scandalously invokes its virtues. As Tocqueville observed, “The character of Anglo-American civilization … is the product … of two perfectly distinct elements that elsewhere are often at odds. But in America, these two have been successfully blended, in a way, and marvelously combined. I mean the spirit of religion and the spirit of liberty.”
Liberal secularists like to think of their ideology as the ultimate guardian of freedom. But as we’ve learned from history, paganism and hedonism invariably lead to the same tyranny as Islamic theocracies. That is exactly what the Jews were fighting during the time of Hanukah around 2,200 years ago when the Hellenists sought to criminalize their religion. Obviously, religious societies can also be tyrannical and that is exactly what we are seeing today with political Islam, which ironically, yet not surprisingly, is excused by the secular Left.
Our founding was different, though. It wove together a brand of Judeo-Christian ethos that harnessed the principles of the Enlightenment and the “freest principles” of English Common Law to eschew the practice of faith as a tool for theocracy and use it instead as the foundation for public liberty. Not all faith-based societies are inoculated from despotism even post-Enlightenment, not by a mile. But any society built on freedom must be fueled by faith. As Tocqueville famously said, “[D]espotism can do without faith but liberty cannot.” Indeed, this is why other religious faiths (or non-religious people), including the very descendants of the Jews persecuted by the pagan Greeks, have enjoyed unparalleled freedom in this particular majority-Christian country.
Despite the decline of religious adherence and respect in this country, the overwhelming majority of Americans are spending time celebrating a religious holiday this week. Clearly, it doesn’t automatically translate into a more religious society, for as Benjamin Rush quipped, “O! ’tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.” However, we can hope and pray that this season will rekindle that spark and return this country to its foundation of religious piety that gave rise to the freest nation on earth, and which is needed to ensure that we remain a free people.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.