From the editor: July 3, 2014
The State of Confusion
•First, a big "thank you" to the many donors who helped us end our fiscal year on June 30 strong! We came to within $2,345 of our goal of $86,000 for May/June. That's 98 percent, for which I am very grateful!
•Second, here is a link to the audio file of Allan Carlson's talk given on June 24 ("Midsummer Nightmares") to the Fellowship of St. James. And, finally, my main topic...
As those of us in the United States celebrate Independence Day, I am reminded of certain ideas about religion and government from the past that speak to current issues today.
John Witherspoon, the only clergyman who signed the Declaration of Independence, was one among many Founding Fathers who believed that constitutional and social arrangements alone were insufficient for a healthy state. As Douglas Sloan wrote,
No system of civil polity could endure indefinitely without virtue and knowledge on the part of its members. "A good form of government," Witherspoon told his congregation, "may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best Constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue."
... Every civil society demands the public spirit, integrity, and moral fortitude of its citizens, but in a free society where ultimate control rests the people a virtuous public is absolutely essential; for in a free state, Witherspoon warned, "if there be a general confusion of manners, there can be nothing but confusion." (The Scottish Enlightenment and the American College Ideal)
I dare say that not only Witherspoon but all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be disturbed by the recent legislation by the state to force Christian workers and businessmen to violate their religious beliefs about the most basic features of any society, that is, marriage and family. The state is doing this in service to sexual libertinism. It is not content to allow space (tolerance) for libertines, but now seems poised to coerce affirmation of their "general confusion of manners" (as on display in a "Pride Parade").
Some private companies are promoting this. Each year JP Morgan Chase sends its employees a survey. A longtime Chase employee told Professor Robert George of Princeton that the survey this year included the following questions for the first time:
1) A person with disabilities;
2) A person with children with disabilities;
3) A person with a spouse/domestic partner with disabilities;
4) A member of the LGBT community.
5) An ally of the LGBT community, but not personally identifying as LGBT.
Your answer to that last question may identify you as a bigot. Will such a questionnaire be used for government hiring in the future?
The church has been of benefit to society; should it now be treated like an enemy? Of course not. But that hasn't stopped it from happening. We have a strong Constitution and Bill of Rights. We hope and pray that these rights will be honored by our legislators, justices, and executives.
In the meantime, the church must continue to bear witness, no matter what. "Freedom for religion, not freedom from religion, was Witherspoon's principle." It should be the state's as well. True freedom depends upon it.
Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,
—James M. Kushiner
© The Fellowship of St. James. 2014
The Fellowship of St. James publications: Follow us online!
In Christ All Sinners Are Truly Made New
Marriage Lite or the New Concubinage?
on the Problem of Preaching About "Responsible Parenthood"
Dr. Eric Hedin & the Contested Boundaries of Science
The Great Epics Are Theological & Mark the Hard Path to Beatitude
An Interview with Star Parker