Religion

No One Expects the Secular Inquisition

President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen attend the funeral service for evangelist Billy Graham at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., March 2, 2018. (Chris Keane/Reuters)
It’s time for religious people to wake up.

We’re entering the age of mainstream anti-religious bigotry.

In the past, American-brand religious bigotry has been largely internecine in fashion; to quote comic songster Tom Lehrer, “the Protestants hate the Catholics, and the Catholics hate the Protestants, and the Hindus hate the Muslims, and everybody hates the Jews.” Now, however, bigotry with regard to religion has been directed by secular Americans against religion itself. Those who abide by traditional Judeo-Christian notions of sin have been targeted for destruction, deemed unworthy of private choice, let alone a role in the public discourse.

This week provided ample examples. First, there was the full-scale media assault on Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence. Karen committed the unforgivable sin of going back to work at a Christian school at which she had taught art for a dozen years. That Christian school had a rather typical policy under which parents and students were to sign a pledge not to engage in sinful behavior, which under traditional Christian definition included premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexual activity, and transgender self-identification, among others. The school agreement explains that admission may be refused or revoked if the parents or students are “in opposition to . . . the biblical lifestyle the school teaches.”

Similar agreement exists at traditional Christian and Jewish schools across America. Yet Pence was hit with the proverbial sink by the media, with reporters expressing outrage at her intolerance, John King of CNN wondering whether her Secret Service protection could be withdrawn, and one LGBTQ organization even sending fake children’s books about a “gay bunny” to the school. Karen Pence’s presence at the school had nothing to do with public policy; she’s not a public official. Her religious perspective has nothing to do with public policy; religious people across the country differ on the role of government in American life. The reality is that many on the left were simply perturbed by the mere existence of religious Christians attending religious schools.

That perturbation manifested itself once again in another manufactured media outrage, this time concerning the students of Covington Catholic High School. Every year, over a hundred students from the high school attend the annual March for Life (I had the pleasure of speaking there this year). Shortly after the march ended, the students gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to wait for a bus. That’s when they were accosted, first by unstable members of the Black Hebrew Israelites, who proceeded to curse them, and then by an elderly Native American man, who walked into their midst while banging a drum. Tape of the incident was cut out of context to make it look as though the students had surrounded the man and mocked him; in reality, he instigated the contact, and then proceeded to bang a drum in one kid’s face. The reality of the situation wasn’t made manifest until after much of the Left had called for the kids’ heads on a platter — and some had targeted the school itself. Alyssa Milano suggested, “Let’s not forget — this entire event happened because a group of boys went on a school-sanctioned trip to protest against a woman’s right to her own body and reproductive healthcare. It is not debatable that bigotry was at play from the start.” Former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean wrote, “#CovingtonCatholic High School seems like a hate factory to me. Why not just close it?”

Anti-religious bigotry has hit the mainstream, particularly among Democrats. Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) declared her candidacy for president this week, just after attempting to discredit judicial candidate Brian Buescher by asking him about his membership in the Catholic Knights of Columbus — a group in which Democrats including John F. Kennedy have held membership. Just five years ago, New York governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that pro-lifers weren’t welcome in New York. In 2015, Hillary Clinton stated that “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed” based on the need for more liberal views of conduct. During the 2016 election, WikiLeaks released emails showing that John Podesta had agreed with a 2012 push against “a middle ages dictatorship . . . in the Catholic church.”

This hatred of religion manifests itself in policy. It will not be long before secular radicals press for the closure of religious schools, suggesting that religious teaching amounts to indoctrination in intolerance. It will not be long before secular radicals reach into churches and homes as well. It’s time for religious people to wake up. Nobody expects the Secular Inquisition.

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