Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bell, Book, -- and Scented Candle

Yet another indicator of things to come in America is the incident of the Atlanta pastor, Rev. Louie Giglio, being banned from saying a benediction at President Obama’s inaugural because he gave a sermon in the mid-1990s critical of homosexuality. (“Louie Giglio pulls out of inauguration over anti-gay comments”).

The decision has been validly blasted as an example of political correctness run amok (as if PC ever runs any other way). It’s also a further instance of the Left’s strategy of persecuting Christianity by falsifying its message.

Controversies like these are being used to redefine normative Christianity so that behaviors the Church has always recognized as sinful are now being praised as pleasing to God and deserving of liturgical celebration.

This new kind of persecution isn’t like the old kind, which tried to eradicate Christianity from society by banishing its adherents into lead mines or feeding them to lions; it didn’t work, anyway, as the number of Christians increased during times of persecution. The new method entails eradicating Christian teachings from Christians, by means of the slow and steady pressure of shaming us from confessing any but this harmless and neutered shell of the faith.

A case in point: part of me, when I wrote about redefining Christianity above, felt an impulse, out of fairness towards that other, widespread version of Christianity that calls itself liberal and progressive, to modify my use of “Christianity” with an adjective like “conservative,” or “traditional.” I chose to resist that reflex as simply a Pavlovian response to social conditioning, of which the discrediting of Rev. Giglio is only the most recent example. While I can’t deny that Americans are by and large just as at home with liberal religious ideas as conservative ones, the Left has no interest in – and doesn’t – try to silence Christians for adhering to progressive dogma, especially on homosexuality. No one ever clamors to marginalize a Reverend Al Sharpton, or a Reverend Jeremiah Wright. When Michael Moore manages to get heckled at the New York Film Critics Awards for praising gay invaders who desecrated the Sacrament at a Catholic Mass it’s the heckler who gets skewered by the Left. Nor does Billy Graham’s hard-won popularity with most Americans protect him when he dares to encourage Christians to vote biblical values.

Even the Reverend Jim Wallis, whose cred in the Obama White House extends to being described as Obama’s spiritual adviser, must go under the bus because he registered less than 100% commitment on same-sex marriage. Wallis’s Sojourners’ website declined to run an ad featuring lesbian parents attending church, and the yipping from the Left included Jim Naughton, an Episcopal insider in D.C., darkly warning that “people inviting Wallis to policy briefings and White House meetings should realize that he ‘is far to the right of the people he’s allowed to speak for.’”

Naughton’s warning that Wallis is only being “allowed” to speak for his constituency lends support to my view that the Left has taken up the old ecclesiastical device of the anathema, only minus the spiritual authority or the divine guidance that goes with it – “If any one saith thus and so, let him be anathema.”

The Left has effectively used its power to enforce orthodoxy and declare wrong-thinking people accursed to accomplish the first leg of their goal: extirpating from popular conversation the suggestion that homosexual activities are wrong. A poll released last week indicates that only 37% of Americans believe that homosexual behavior is a sin. The second leg – the normalizing of homosexual acts by means of the legal feint of national recognition of same-sex marriage – is within sight.

After giving Giglio the heave-ho, the White House clarified that replacement candidates had to demonstrate “beliefs [that] reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.” As usual, the irony of Rev. Giglio being publicly humiliated to pacify the most exclusive and intolerant constituency in American history – in the name of “inclusiveness” no less – sank instantly below the notice of Obama’s compliant media.

Obama is entitled to have anyone he wants say a benediction at his inaugural – or no one at all. Things being what they are, we should all be grateful he hasn’t asked Mohammed Morsi to do it. What’s wrong is that he’s using the power of his office to enforce religious orthodoxy – or, more accurately, he’s allowing activists to co-opt the prestige of the presidency to do it. That neither St. Paul nor Benedict XVI could qualify as worthy to pronounce a blessing on the American president ought to be of concern to American Christians.

Homosexual activists view this as a “tipping point,” “interpreting Giglio’s withdrawal as a rejection of religious conservatives who don’t accept homosexuality — regardless of what other good works they do.” Whether it’s a tipping point or not I don’t know; I do know that when a combination of media, government officials, and a nest of Christian-hating poofters get to decide what kind of religious ideas should be accepted or rejected in America’s pulpits, things are not well with the Republic – nor with the Church.


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