In Part 5, I concluded that something very significant has happened over the last three decades: ‘politics’ has become all-encompassing.
In short: everything has become political.
And if everything has become political, and Christians are supposed to butt out, that means that the Christian is being asked (or told) that he can have absolutely no opinion at all about anything that happens in society that they are permitted to all. I’m not talking about abortion, or gay marriage. I’m talking about everything.
For example, let’s say we were talking about the minimum wage. At first blush, if ever there were a topic where good men could have different points of views and still be good men, it would be this topic… until, perhaps, you discover it was (and still is?!?!) a tool for targeting poor black people for elimination from society.*** Now, we are told that we are not allowed to bring to bear ‘religious’ or ‘moral’ arguments on public policy. I happen to think it is immoral beyond words to try to make it so that poor black people starve to death, and frankly this will over ride any other consideration I might have. I’m not going to sit around crafting a ‘secular’ version of my abhorrence to this public policy so that the atheists will allow me a hearing. You don’t deliberately try to starve people to death via government policies, period. It’s wrong and immoral, end of story.
But remember, I’m not allowed to let my religious morality drive my views on public policy! If a ‘political majority’ decides that it is not “morally acceptable and socially desirable” and that is why they oppose this, that, we are told by the liberal elitists, is an establishment of religion, and therefore out of bounds.
The liberal elitist is, of course, is not so encumbered.
So, you see how this works. You have something ostensibly innocent that is potentially sinister, but you are forbidden from addressing it in those terms, while they are permitted to carry on however they please, since they are not ‘religious,’ and so, by (their) definition, their every act and motive must be ‘secular.’
This being the case, as the secularists continue to marshal the government for their various ‘secular’ goals, more and more areas of human experience fall within their control. Things that in previous generations politicians would never dream of touching are now the playground for the Government Nanny.
Think about it. Can you think of anything in your life that the government does not have its fingers into at present?
Let’s see. We were just inches away from no longer being allowed to purchase non-Government approved light bulbs, and in California, as I recall, you no longer can.
New York passed a ban on trans fat a couple of years ago. (The Health Commissioner at the time, Thomas Frieden, is an avowed utilitarian; no worries, he’s only the director of the CDC now; no one should believe he’ll act on his moral principles in that position, right? Utilitarianism is neutral towards morality, right? Right?)
The government has required ‘environmentally friendly’ plumbing and such for some time. For this reason, my toilet uses half the water that it used to, and it is now necessary to flush it twice to finish my business, if you get my meaning.
Maryland was prepared to dictate who and who could not apply sunscreen lotion at summer camps this summer.
Many communities add fluoride to the water supply- even wealthy communities- presumably because poor people in the United States cannot afford $10 a year for fluoridated toothpaste.
The Obama administration not long ago passed their first phase towards socialized, universal health insurance, requiring everyone who (they deem) can afford it to obtain insurance, or else pay a penalty; the insurance plans themselves are now even more encumbered with requirements and regulations than ever before. Ezekiel Emanuel (known to some as ‘Dr. Death’, and brother of former Obama chief of staff ‘dead fish’ Rahm Emanuel) heads up the committee that is tasked with deciding how much every procedure available in America costs, what its success rates are, and whether or not YOU should get that procedure, taking into account ‘scarce medical resources.’ This should not be confused with rationing; it is just phase one, after all.
Some schools give out condoms to their students. In 2010, one school district in Mass. was prepared to give out condoms to children as young as first grade– without parental involvement. They have since ‘clarified.’ This was probably because of the moral outrage that ensued, which for the purposes of this post is particularly interesting, because many people believe that morality has no place in public society- unless of course it is the morality of the secularists, because of course their moral viewpoints are not religious.
Or, how about my favorite new piece of regulation? The requirements that your gasoline cans have ‘self-venting’ caps. Apparently, 70,000 gallons of gasoline are spilled annually, releasing earth-killing fumes all the while. Setting aside the fun question of how this number was derived, let’s speak just to the caps: they are RIDICULOUS and asinine. I had to use one this summer and there was no way to use the dumb thing without spilling all over. And I did. I spilled and spilled all over my vehicle and myself. There was no way to do it without spilling. Infuriated, I went into my garage to find an old spout; I didn’t spill another drop. (Read about other experiences with the new caps). Thanks to the government trying to stop spillage, I have now spilled more gasoline than I ever have before. By interesting contrast, these stupid can caps were supposed to address the 70,000 gallons of spilled gasoline each year… the Deep Water Horizon spill put 4,900,000 BARRELS of oil into the ocean. An event of great consequence, and yet life on this planet did not expire, nor is it expected to from the event.
I could go on and on. And so could you, if you were honest. Just looking at this short list, we see that everything from our plumbing to our choice of light fixtures to the type of fat allowed in a city to the nature of the health care you receive to the sexual behaviors of school children have all become political to the kinds of caps on my gasoline cans. From the major to the minor, our government has inserted itself into every little corner of our lives. All but a square inch of your life is political. (The EPA bureaucrat that calculated how many gallons of gasoline Americans spill while fueling their lawn mowers each year is presently searching for that square inch.)
This is all just a symptom. The underlying ailment is that our government is loaded with people working for the ‘public good’ as they understand ‘goodness.’ There is no logical, rational, end to this way of thinking, which is why you will find government officials inserting their viewpoints in ever narrower and specific contexts. If you ask any individual official where they draw the line, they will invariably raise certain areas that they themselves would never dream of thinking the government should be involved, but there are hundreds of thousands of these officials, and none of them agree on which things; taken as a collective, you will therefore find someone, somewhere, micromanaging- or trying to micromanage- every aspect of our lives .
It is not my point in this particular part to take issue with this trend, even if you can easily gather what I think about it. My point is to show that the secularization of everything has made everything subject to ‘public policy’, the ‘common good’, and the ‘general welfare.’ Everything has become political. In this context, to insist that religion be kept out of our politics is to demand that religious people stay out of public life altogether. As already shown, liberals already believe that if a policy advocated in public coincides with something a person might desire on account of their religious values, they perceive this as a violation of the first amendment. (I showed this in parts 4 and 5, citing liberal Supreme Court justices!)
It used to be said that to keep the peace at family get togethers, you should avoid discussing religion and politics. However, since everything has become politicized, that essentially means you can’t talk about anything. Well, there is one thing left… you can talk about the weather.
Wait a minute. You can’t even do that!
But a discussion of global warming and climate change requires yet one more post, and will bring us full circle to the Jaffa Memo.
But if you want to draw a conclusion from where we have come so far, it is this: one’s values are derived from beliefs about the world, and everyone has beliefs about the world, including secularists. Religion is, at bottom, ‘beliefs about the world.’ If the values we promote in public and private are not derived from our beliefs about the world, where do they come from? It is ridiculous to imagine that there are people out there who are advocating for policies that have nothing to do with their own beliefs about the world. Shall we imagine that they are advocating for policies because they are ‘value-neutral’? Absurd. They would not be advocating for them at all if they didn’t think they were pursuing something worthwhile.
The only sane solution is to admit that everyone has values and everyone has a right to have those values inform how they act in public and private. And by everyone, I include people who are not atheists and liberals.
Next up: The Poop On Climate Change and being Guided by Science!
*** (The possibility that the minimum wage could be justified on other grounds ‘by good men’ is something I addressed in Part 1, but I would hasten to add that if we discover that whatever our motivations and good intentions and reasons for the policy, the net effect is that poor black people are harmed by it, we must view ourselves as complicit in the 1920s era Progressive’s agenda)