The claim that Christianity is under attack in America is not a new one. This line of thought has been used since prayer was taken out of public schools and today forms the substrate of the so-called “culture wars.” To the Left, for example, opposition to abortion is an imposition of religious beliefs upon others. They are ignorant of the fact that a lot of secular law draws upon religious doctrine itself. The Ten Commandments, although clothed in religious terms, proscribes a set of values and rules on a secular society. And there begins the problems in this area. As the Left pushes the United States to a strictly secular country, secular laws inevitably will come into conflict with God’s laws. Many of those who believe that Christianity itself is not under attack will nevertheless argue the underlying beliefs are under attack. And interestingly, our Founders realized that there would be this conflict which is why they wrote the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses into the First Amendment. However, they never meant for the free exercise of religion to stop at the church door.
Of course, compared to other countries one can say that Christianity in America is not under attack. But it is a question of degrees. The American Left is more subtle in their attack since they use the secular laws to negate Christian beliefs. In the United States, no machete carrying secularists are slaughtering Christians such as what is happening in Nigeria. No one is bombing Easter services such as what has happened in Pakistan. Physical churches are not being destroyed or desecrated such as what is happening in Iraq and Syria and did happen in Egypt under Morsi’s rule. And no American secularist is threatening an occupation of Rome such as the comments made by leaders in ISIS. But make no mistake- the aims of secularists in America are the same as those of Islamic terrorists in the Middle East and elsewhere: to drive Christianity out of public life.
Thus, you will often hear comments to the effect that they (secularists) are not attacking religion or Christianity. You are free to believe whatever you want, or even not to believe. Hence, they are invoking the Free Exercise Clause. However, those beliefs stop at your house or church door. At that point, the Free Exercise Clause magically mutates into the Establishment Clause according to this secularist view. But that illustrates a fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals- to insist that one’s religion be a private matter necessarily means that one’s faith be compromised. The other option to exclusively private religion is that religious beliefs be socially irrelevant. This is why liberals try to rewrite history by declaring our Founders non-religious, or removing references to the fact that many of the original colonists left Europe in search of religious freedom. To the extent they leave those facts in, there is always the inevitable caveat about how bad these colonists became by wiping out Indians and imposing their religion on the colonies.
But they do not stop there. Besides insisting that religious doctrines should not influence society or the law, they then demand religion to embrace society’s beliefs. In effect, the government becomes a religion in and of itself and true religion (particularly Christianity) must become subordinate to this new religion. How is that different from anything ISIS is doing in the Middle East? A perfect example is the contraception mandate in Obamacare where failure to abide by those secular rules reached the Supreme Court. Yet there are other areas where there is conflict. In Illinois, the Catholic Church ceased a highly successful adoption service rather than bowing down to the government over gay marriage. Religious counselors have been penalized for refusing to counsel a gay couple. A photographer gets sued for refusing to photograph a gay wedding. The Left argues that if you are going to enter the world of commerce, or health care, or adoption, or anything else, then your religious beliefs have to be laid aside and subordinated to the secular rules of the game. Our Founders would be rolling in their graves if they knew the First Amendment was being so perverted.
These actions- be it a baker, photographer, florist, etc.- are being prosecuted under state anti-discrimination laws. They are being told that they must lay aside their religious beliefs as a price to pay for entering the world of business. Some even go so far as to say that if someone believes so strongly in the concept of traditional marriage based on their religious beliefs, then they should stay out of the business world. In other words, your religious beliefs should remain private and if they enter the public realm, then secular law must prevail. But if we take this further, one can argue that religious worship services are public events. Using the Left’s logic, does this give government the right to “regulate” the content of those services? Logically-speaking the Left’s argument is obviously inconsistent.
Furthermore, the Left’s position is rife with hypocrisy and nowhere is that more evident than with the treatment of Christianity versus the treatment of Islam. The ACLU is at the forefront of this battle. Being a firm opponent of school prayer, they have nevertheless fought for the rights of Muslim students. In 2001, a California school embarked on a 3-week Islam awareness program where students adopted Muslim names and immersed themselves in Islamic beliefs and practices. When there were protests, the Left sided with the school. Suddenly the Establishment Clause disappeared. In 2004, the ACLU defended the actions of schools in San Diego to allow Muslim students a 15 minute period for praying. In Dearborn, Michigan the Left has defended Muslim prayer periods and ignoring unexcused absences for Muslim holidays. Yet when Muslim parents complained about permission slips being distributed for an after-school Bible study group, suddenly the Establishment Clause reappeared. In 2009, the courts declared that the instrumental performance of “Ave Maria” at a “winter” school concert was a violation of the Establishment Clause. Clearly, there is a separation of church and state, but no separation of mosque and state. To wit, a school trip to a local mosque in Boston was fine even though the students were taught and participated in Muslim prayers. Can you imagine the uproar over a school trip to the National Cathedral in DC?
To see this hypocrisy in action, look at the reaction to some recent Supreme Court cases. The Left is still railing about the Hobby Lobby decision insisting it is allowing businesses to discriminate against women. They frame the discussion in legal terms, but underneath there is that disdain towards the religious beliefs that led some business owners to contest the contraceptive mandate. Conversely, the recent decision to allow Muslim prisoners to grow beards and the Abercrombie decision regarding a female Muslim’s head scarf went by with no negative word from the Left. That is because they are under the erroneous belief that the Free Exercise Clause applies only to minority religions.
No analysis would be complete without mention of the Left’s poster boy du jour- Barack Obama. Unlike some, this writer does not believe Obama is a closet Muslim. But, neither do I believe he is a Christian. At best, he is a deist. Obama’s antipathy towards Christianity runs the gamut from the subtle to the almost profane. In the subtle area, Obama has now given six Thanksgiving addresses to the Nation with nary a mention of God. White House Christmas cards are exclusively secular in nature. (News flash: it is alright to mention Jesus Christ on a day that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.) When sequester budget cuts went into effect at the Pentagon, one of the first casualties was the Eucharist for Catholic service members. Because someone may have supported a traditional view of marriage in their past, they have been excluded from presidential events. At a prayer breakfast, Barack Obama used the opportunity to revisit the the Crusades and the Inquisition. He already apologized for American foreign policy; now he saw the need to apologize for Christianity. No religion is without sin at some point in its past, but Christianity is about 600 years ahead of Islam at this point, yet it is Christianity that is dragged through the mud of history. Obama’s comments come as no surprise since they reflect an underlying belief of the Left: religion is an inconvenience in the way of an agenda. Since Christianity is the predominant religion in America, Christianity and its beliefs are the biggest inconvenience.
Instead, we should remember the words of the great Alexis de Toqueville who was fascinated by the role religion (Christianity) played in the early days of our Republic:
…there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America; and there can be no greater proof of its utility and its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth.
To the Right, the religion clauses of the First Amendment are a shield against government control and domination of religious beliefs and practices- public and private. To the Left, these very same clauses have become a sword to eradicate religious beliefs and practices from the public square. From the subtle to the profane, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious, the Left will not stop trying to eradicate this “inconvenience” which de Toqueville found so profound, important and unifying. They will attack it from within and without using every tool at their disposal from infiltration to marginalization to denigration. In that light, obviously there is a Leftist war on Christianity in the United States.