The war on Christianity

The NYT and the WP have been running “feel-good,” “not-to-worry”
editorials, op-ed columns, and letters to the editor
asserting that the “war on Christianity” is basically
a figment of the paranoid Christian’s imagination.
Well, call me paranoid,
but that is precisely what those waging war on Christianity
would want for Christians to believe.
For evidence that there really is a war on Christianity going on in our culture,
consider the following,
from the 2005-10-02 Washington Post, page C12
(originally in the RNS-DIGEST-SEPT20 (09/21/2005) at Religion News Service)
(emphasis is added):

Scholastic Parent & Child has refused to run a $14,000 ad
for a Jesus doll that recites popular biblical verses at the push of a button.

The national magazine is often distributed in public school classrooms,
and the ad–
which would have run in the November/ December holiday gift guide–
might have offended non-Christian families,
Scholastic official Kyle Good explained to Religion News Service.

Officials with the company that makes the new dolls, One2believe,
said Scholastic is being inconsistent.
In last year’s gift guide, they noted,
the magazine ran an editorial about a Noah’s Ark play set.

“We’re just trying to bring faith to the community that we know–
the Christian community,”
said One2believe director Joshua Livingston.
“We’re not trying to force it on anyone.”

I find this absolutely amazing.
The powers-that-be in our media world won’t even run an ad
that promotes Christianity?
The anti-Christ is here, and in control.

Here’s another column dealing with this issue:

Cal Thomas,
The Gospel of unbelief

Miscellaneous Articles


What’s Happened to Barbara Walters?
by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
An advertisement that appeared on the op-ed page
of the 2007-06-12 New York Times.

[An excerpt:]

[I]t is the business of the Catholic League to call [Barbara Walters] out
when she permits her co-hosts to relentlessly bash Catholicism.


[Barbara Walters] permits her panelists to run roughshod over Catholicism.

British High Court Wrestles With Symbol of Premarital Purity
British Teen Sues for Right to Wear Chastity Ring
New York Times, 2007-06-23

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

At a time of passionate debate over religious clothing and emblems, a 16-year-old member of an evangelical Christian movement protested in court on Friday because her school has refused to allow her to wear a so-called purity ring, symbolizing her commitment to premarital chastity.

The case offered a counterpoint to a broader discussion concerning Muslim women who wear the full-face veil known as the niqab. But it also revealed stirrings of resentment among some members of Britain’s Christian majority, who say they are the victims of discrimination over how they display their faith.

The young woman, Lydia Playfoot, said her school, at Horsham, south of London, had told her that the ring broke the school’s rules on uniforms and jewelry.

But Ms. Playfoot argued that the prohibition breached her right to express a religious belief. Not only that, she said in a statement to the court, Sikh and Muslim pupils were permitted distinctive dress to show their religious identity.

Ms. Playfoot belongs to a British branch of an American-based evangelical movement known as Silver Ring Thing. Both her parents work for the branch, according to its Web site, www.silverringthing.com.

“The real reason for the extreme hostility
to the wearing of the S.R.T. purity ring is
the dislike of the message of sexual restraint
which is ‘counter cultural’ and
contrary to societal and governmental policy,”

Ms. Playfoot said in a written statement to Britain’s High Court.

“It is this message from the Judeo-Christian position that is suppressed:
exemptions are allowed or permitted for other messages,”
she said, arguing that her school
“doesn’t offer equal rights to Christians.”


Pastor Rick's Test
The Candidates Submit, and a Principle Suffers
By Kathleen Parker
Washington Post, 2008-08-20

[An excerpt.]

This is about higher principles that are compromised
every time we pretend we’re not applying a religious test
when we’re really applying a religious test.

[Come now.
Banning the “establishment of religion” means that
the government may not tell people what church to attend or what god to worship.
It certainly does not mean that
voters must be denied information about the religious beliefs of candidates.
Is voting for Christians equivalent to
the establishment of Christianity as a religion?
(Of course, we do have a state religion,
although it is not acknowledged:
Worship of Israel, whatever it does.)]

It is true that
no one was forced to participate in the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency
and that both McCain and Obama are free agents.
[Pastor Rick] Warren has a right to invite whomever he wishes to his church
and to ask them whatever they’re willing to answer.

His format and questions were interesting
and the answers more revealing than what the usual debate menu provides.
But does it not seem just a little bit odd to have McCain and Obama
chatting individually with a preacher in a public forum
about their positions on evil and their relationship with Jesus Christ?

The past few decades of public confession and Oprah-style therapy
have prepared us perfectly for
a televangelist probing politicians about their moral failings.
Warren’s Q&A wasn’t an inquisition exactly,
but viewers would be justified in squirming.

What is the right answer, after all?
What happens to the one who gets evil wrong?
What’s a proper relationship with Jesus?
What’s next?
Interrogations by rabbis, priests and imams?
What candidate would dare decline on the basis of mere principle?

[Wait a minute.
It’s perfectly okay for Jewish leaders to interrogate candidates for office
on their positions on Israel
but it’s not okay for Christian leaders to interrogate those candidates
on their positions on religious issues?

As to retribution against those who give the “wrong” answers,
the Jewish community has an undeniable track record of
punishing any politician rash enough
to give the “wrong” answer on his unconditional support for Israel.
So far as I know,
there is absolutely no equivalent record of Christians
forcing their views on the body politic.
Any counterexample?]

Both Obama and McCain gave “good” answers, but that’s not the point.
They shouldn’t have been asked.
Is the American electorate now better prepared to cast votes
knowing that Obama believes that
“Jesus Christ died for my sins and I am redeemed through him,”
or that McCain feels that he is “saved and forgiven”?

[You bet they are.
Even someone as misguided as Ms. Parker evidently is should know that
Obama has been portrayed by some as a closet Muslim,
and that, while Ms. Parker may pretend that that does not concern her,
it surely, given history, is a matter of interest to the American electorate.
But Ms. Parker feels that the American electorate should not hear
how he answers direct questions on that subject.

What does that mean, anyway?
What does it prove?
Nothing except that these men are willing to say whatever they must --
and what most Americans personally feel is no one’s business --
to win the highest office.

[There is always that cynical way of viewing what politicians say.
Why in this one case does Ms. Parker assert that that possibility means
politicians should not even be asked questions?
In what other cases does she make the same argument?
And if this is the only one,
why does she pick on questions relating to Christianity to raise her objection?
And here is a (no doubt impertinent) question:
Just what is the religion of Kathleen Parker?
I don’t know the answer,
but perhaps the fact that she is archived at Jewish World Review provides a clue.]


Under Ban, 6 Troopers Resign as Chaplains
By Anita Kumar
Washington Post, 2008-09-25

Chief Orders Nondenominational Prayers

WASPs Are the New Secularists,
Jews the New Parochialists

by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss, 2008-08-31

[An excerpt; paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

Jewish intellectuals helped bring about the rise of secular culture.

I’m reading a fascinating book,
Science, Jews, and Secular Culture, by David Hollinger,
that came out 12 years ago and argues that
Jewish intellectuals sought to de-Christianize American culture.
Hey I know; I was there.
For some of these multiculturalists,
“the exposure of
the parochially Anglo-Protestant character
of earlier American intellectual life
has become an almost sacred calling,”

Hollinger writes.
This is precisely what Jacob Heilbrunn says
in his book earlier this year on the neoconservatives:
that resentment against the WASP intellectual elite
fueled Kristol and Podhoretz et al,
and that they strived to build a “parallel establishment.”
And did.

Hollinger was writing before the rise of the neocons,
certainly before their Great Works.
He doesn’t even mention them (O.K., he lives in Berkeley).
He likes secularists, and he says of the rise of the Jewish intellectuals,
“what made these intellectuals special was
their manifest failure to be Jewish parochials.
This applied to many of the Zionist as well as the non-Zionist intellectuals
in the group.”

This statement must today be regarded as inaccurate.
We cannot look at
the transformation of public intellectual life in the last 10 years
without talking about
the parochialism of many Jewish intellectuals.
I’m a secular Jewish writer myself, and I know a lot of secularist Jews.
There are still plenty of us.
But the neocons are parochialists, as I have argued time and again on this site,
an argument Joe Klein has lately and bravely joined
when he condemned the Iraq war planners
as Jewish neoconservatives with divided loyalties.
Alas, Klein is the exception.
So is Tony Judt, who has also condemned parochialism.
The pro-Israel feeling in Jewish life is so regnant that
there has been a tendency among even secular Jewish intellectuals,
for instance Glenn Greenwald and Daniel Lazare,
not to identify neocons as Jewish parochialists
(Greenwald in his book on Bush,
where he failed to name the neocons as Israel-firsters;
Lazare in his shaming review in the Nation of Walt and Mearsheimer).
I think this taboo is crumbling.
Greenwald has been plain about the Israel agenda on his blog,
and it is now becoming a little trendy
for liberal Jewish writers to dime out the Israel firsters:
Rob Eshman on Huffington Post the other day,
Connie Bruck going after Sheldon Adelson in the New Yorker.
J Street has of course made sallies against the undivided Jerusalem crowd.
But the fascination here is that almost all these folks (Greenwald excepted)
do so from a vigorously pro-Israel perspective.
They must first establish their Zionist bona fides,
then go after the neocons.
There is a religious flavor to the advocacy.

Let me be clear,
I think the de-Christianizing of American culture was a good thing
(though it caused resentment among Catholic intellectuals like Pat Buchanan
and Protestants like T.S. Eliot, whom Hollinger both cites and condemns).
There was a stuffy parochialism to that old order,
and as Hollinger says,
de-Christianizing included a lot of liberating trends in our culture,
the Enlightenment, the questioning of religious myths, the rise of Hollywood.

The naivete in Hollinger’s thesis is
his claim that the emancipated Jews were truly emancipated.
How can you talk about the Enlightenment
when a significant bloc of American Jewish life is now wrapped around
the Scriptural fairy dust that
Jews have the right to a city halfway around the world
that most of them have never been to?
The Jewish novelists whose rise Hollinger extols--Bellow, Malamud et al--
weren’t all that secular.
Bellow wrote a feverish Zionist book of his own
and adored Allan Bloom, godfather of neocons.
And speaking for the parochialist neocons,
I don’t think it’s easy to cheerlead for the Enlightenment
in the shadow of the Holocaust.
(Doug Feith lost two grandparents and seven uncles and aunts in the Holocaust,
and helped start parochialist JINSA and One Jerusalem).

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