There are no better enforcers of civility and tolerance than editorialists and opinion writers who peddle these virtues while policing the terrain for intellectual nonconformity. New York Times writer Charles Blow has long been a member of good standing in this cabal, but his piece in Saturday’s Times outdoes even himself in ascending to increasingly new heights of arrogance. Titled “Indoctrinating Religious Warriors,” Blow reduces the entirety of the Christian faith and its apparent lagging acceptance of evolutionary naturalism to evidence of a culture-war mentality bent on creating a reliable political infantry:
But I believe that something else is also at play here, something more cynical. I believe this is a natural result of a long-running ploy by Republican party leaders to play on the most base convictions of conservative voters in order to solidify their support. Convince people that they’re fighting a religious war for religious freedom, a war in which passion and devotion are one’s weapons against doubt and confusion, and you make loyal soldiers.
There has been antiscience propagandizing running unchecked on the right for years, from anti-gay-equality misinformation to climate-change denials.
Personally, I loved this line, which is dripping with self-approval:
I don’t personally have a problem with religious faith, even in the extreme, as long as it doesn’t supersede science and it’s not used to impose outdated mores on others.
Blow’s comments are shockingly disrespectful and condescending towards a large swath of the American population that happens to not think like him. Undermining civic fraternity and a healthy pluralism, Blow reduces religion to sentiment, suggesting, in essence: Be religious, but don’t let it actually mean or affect anything. Don’t attach ethics or a worldview to it.
One of my friends mentioned on Twitter that this type of myopia reminds him of the Upper East Side journalist who declared after Reagan’s landslide reelection: “I don’t know anyone who voted for him.”
The greatest offense imaginable to Blow is that there are people who inhabit the same country that believe something different than the standard answers that liberalism provides.
Conservative Christian commentator Denny Burk has a nice rejoinder on his blog to Blow’s column. According to Burk,
In other words, Blow has no problem with Christianity as long as it never contradicts the spirit of the age and never makes claims of any public consequence — which is another way of saying, “I have no problem with Christianity so long as it ceases to be Christian.”
Blow can’t have it both ways. He cannot deny the existence of a “war” on Christianity while simultaneously waging that war himself. Not only is he waging that war. He’s doing so in the most strident terms possible – the kinds of arguments that form the basis for real assaults on religious freedom. To wit, he alleges a strong correlation between religious conviction and “poor societal conditions.” He even goes so far as to say that convictional Christians stand against “common sense and the common good.” Ideologically, this a mere step away from the way the Romans regarded the Christians they persecuted – as “enemies of the human race.”
It is astonishing that Blow can be so unaware of the contradiction at the heart of his argument. He denies the existence of secular antipathy towards Christians, and yet he himself is the embodiment of it in this column. If you want to see evidence that there really is a growing intolerance of biblical Christianity among secular elites, read Blow’s column.
— Andrew T. Walker works for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.