I would venture to say that Europeans and Americans are confronting a spiritual conundrum. How does an immense civilization examine its conscience? How do nations and societies confess and atone for their sins?
Pillar: Politics & Law
The third pillar of a decent society is a just system of politics and law. Such a government does not bind all persons, families, institutions of civil society, and actors in the marketplace to itself as subservient features of an all-pervading authority. Instead, it honors and protects the inherent equal dignity of all persons, safeguards the family as the primary school of virtue, and seeks justice through the rule of law.
While it is good that legal systems have become more sensitive to the psychological effects of the law on participants in the legal process, we should be wary of claims that assert that no-fault divorce is “therapeutic” for divorcing couples or their children. Advocates for the sanctity of marriage across the globe should pay close attention to this shift.
Andrew Walker’s new book provides biblical-theological resources for navigating an increasingly anti-Christian culture in the West, especially the United States. Baptists have been here before, prior to the Act of Toleration in England and the First Amendment to the US Constitution. They flourished in the midst of hostility as a countercultural force for the common good. We can too.
Critical Race Theory rightly calls us to recognize that the effects of sin can be magnified throughout the institutions and social structures erected by individuals, leading to social systems that embody unjust racial prejudices. However, by focusing on sin as embodied with or without intent in social systems, proponents of CRT lose sight of what makes sin so wrong in the first place: that individuals who bear a moral accountability before God break his moral law.
Every “no” to the state in the name of religious conscience is predicated on a greater “yes” to a power higher than the state.
Scientific evidence is vital to public policy, but science does not offer a repository of neutral evidence that arrives ready-made onto the political scene. Using science to make policy decisions is complex, requiring not only expert judgment but also the judgment of those nonexperts whose experience, knowledge, and know-how is needed to deliberate well about the best course of action.
Joseph’s service to Pharaoh provides important lessons to Jews and Christians considering roles in government in an increasingly pagan America. Today, we neither reign from the throne in Jerusalem nor cower in the catacombs of Rome. Is there a place for us in the palace of Egypt?
Nations have cultural and moral foundations, and religion is historically at their core. The secular multiculturalist fails to see why a Christian and a Muslim cannot agree to disagree and fall into peaceable line in a republic. This is because he imagines Christians and Muslims who do not take their respective faiths seriously. Only if neither adheres to basic principled claims of their faiths is it plausible to imagine all potential religious and cultural conflict between the two disappearing.
Policy can tax vice and remunerate virtue. But policy cannot do what churches, fathers, mothers, friends, and coworkers can do, which is to invite individuals into fruitful, sacrificial communities.
Openness to love is the only satisfying defense against the supposed conflict between private happiness and the common good, the only thing that can convert the common good from an abstraction to a lived reality. The most important element of the common good, therefore, is that all of the members of the community regard themselves, somehow, as friends.
Yuval Levin is right that we need a “party of the Congress,” a group of members who are committed to exercising the constitutional powers of the House and Senate, not just competing against the opposing party. Because the House is the weaker of the institutional links, the only way the institution of Congress will have a chance to be strengthened is if a “party of the Congress” forms in that chamber. This will require opening up House rules to give rank-and-file members greater opportunities for success as entrepreneurial bipartisan legislators.
In Andrew Walker’s new book, religious liberty is presented less as a political doctrine than as a description of reality itself. In this view, religious liberty is the logical consequence of an orthodox view of God as the transcendent horizon of all human effort and a view of human beings as agents with consciences not subject to direct political coercion.
LGBT lobby groups do not want to “live and let live.” They want their interests to live and the interests of religious conservatives to die. They are playing to win. Religious conservatives must do the same.
The Civics Secures Democracy Act will give the federal bureaucracy tremendous leverage to influence state and local decisions about civics education content and administration, thus making them less responsive to the people. This is an anti-civics civics bill that will stoke the fires of discord and alienation.
Social media companies don’t fit into the framework of Section 230. Pushing the false dichotomy of “platform” versus “content creator” gives these companies more power. They can hide behind their status as platforms, claiming their filtering is perfectly neutral, undermining free speech all the while.
Gladden Pappin, like many other social conservatives, has been too swayed by the experiences of one country: Hungary. His credulity with regards to the Orban government’s family policy claims has led him, and many other conservatives, to a consequential misunderstanding of what has actually happened in Hungary—and what it implies for conservative policy in the United States.
Resist the temptation to outsource your thinking to a team or a party. Rooting for a team is appropriate in sports, and partisan politics may be a necessity of a political system like ours, but both are detrimental to the intellectual process. Catholics should not think of discussions about the Church’s relationship to American liberalism as a Battle Royal between competing camps—but as a conversation among friends seeking the truth in community. Adapted from the introductory remarks delivered on April 15, 2021 at the University of Dallas’s conference on America, Liberalism, and Catholicism.
The Arkansas legislature knows something the governor apparently does not: hormonal treatment of adolescent gender dysphoria yields little across samples and studies. Transgender youth medicine involves numerous known and serious risks that are already identifiable, while the long-term effects and possible harms of off-label drug uses are completely unknown.
Progressive strongholds face unprecedented fiscal challenges. The example of New York City illustrates what not to do—and suggests a way forward.
The time has come for people of faith to acknowledge reality and seek a resolution that protects both LGBT civil rights and religious liberty. The Fairness For All Act is a serious effort to reach a sustainable and balanced resolution while there’s still time.
There are far more egregious consequences of the Equality Act than its lack of protections for religious freedom. It celebrates and legitimizes a way of life that is fundamentally destructive, both on an individual and societal level. The Equality Act would not merely alter legal code. It would engender and nourish a burgeoning assault on any who publicly dissent from the new secular orthodoxy.
Parliament’s tax on paper to control the colonists’ speech through a public-private partnership has striking parallels to the public-private partnership of government and big tech today. Protecting the stack—the digital age printing presses—is not a matter of liberal or conservative politics, but of core American freedoms.
The humanitarian proposal is hard to refuse, because it postulates that we can achieve justice if everyone simply becomes aware of their essential human likeness. The Christian proposal is hard to accept, because it affirms that all human beings are prisoners of an injustice from which they cannot escape by their own efforts.
Without a revelation from God to confirm that man’s end transcends this world, politics will dominate our life and make hell on earth. But in its proper place, politics can do great good. As Fr. James Schall reminds us, the “abiding problem” of the “political enterprise” is to grasp this “limit of politics.”
Many conservative elites know that cultural resentment has the potential to take the Republican Party in an ugly direction. That’s why so many of them cling to the alternative explanation: “It wasn’t racism or misogyny that was motivating Trump voters! It was righteous anger that their government hasn’t done more to protect them from the ravages of globalization!” In reality, to the extent that the Trump coalition was unified and energized by anything, survey data suggest that it was cultural issues, not economic ones.