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The Church and the Republic

Editor’s note: David Deavel, editor of St. Thomas University’s quarterly, Logos, invited me to contribute an essay on Orestes Brownson‘s remarkable defense of religious liberty in his 1864 essay “Civil and Religious Freedom.” Posted below is a modified version of my essay published in the Fall edition of Logos

Orestes Brownson’s wonderful essay “Civil and Religious Freedom” (1864) provides a remarkable philosophical and constitutional defense of religious liberty. The essay bears the particular merit of bridging the traditional American understanding of religious freedom as an individual right with the corporate notion of freedom of the church, which acts, Brownson argues, as the shield of religious liberty. In this way, Brownson provided an original, robust defense of American constitutionalism and religious freedom. He saw our political order as fundamentally just because of its ability to balance and soothe the collectivist and anarchic instincts of political modernity. American constitutionalism was not perfect, Brownson articulated its own discontents quite well in The American Republic (1865), but, he also argued, that it contained ample resources to uphold a dignified political order of freedom and responsibility. Brownson stated in 1853 that the question that dominated his mind and writing was articulating the proper relationship between the church and the state or, as he frequently noted, the spiritual and temporal realms.

Brownson was a profound critic of modern political ideologies that subsumed the church under the state. He opposed political atheism because of its complete divorce of the political order from religion and morality. The publicly enforced notion that the state faces no source of authority higher than its own that can provide ethical direction to its laws and actions easily supported the position that the state is virtually unlimited in its powers. The supreme example, of course, was the French Revolution’s murderous opposition to Catholicism, which led the church to oppose its totalizing vision in all of its forms.

The second error was Erastianism, a settlement that emerged out of the Protestant Reformation, whereby the Church is suffered to exist, and may even be accorded certain favors from the state, but owes its continued existence to grants of privilege by the government rather than being seen as having independent and God-given authority for its mission.[1] The church had become a hostage to these situations, and this dependency, Brownson thought, had left it unable to think properly about the church’s proper relationship to the modern political world.

Religious Freedom and the Modern Republic

What the Church had not considered, Brownson pointedly argued in “Civil and Religious Freedom,” is a modern republican constitutionalism that placed itself at the service of securing the rights and duties of citizens, which are in nature by God’s creative act.[2] This was the real prospect offered by the American constitutional experience of self-government, Brownson observed. The American Constitution fundamentally limited the government, he approvingly noted, in providing for citizens to be free as a matter of inalienable right to choose their religion and for religious institutions to operate independently of government sanction.

We must repair to Brownson in our time, not only for a defense of religious liberty, but for his related and very needed defense of the freedom of the church. His 1864 essay crystallizes his thought on why a republican form of government must recognize “the freedom of the church in the freedom of the citizen.” Brownson’s “Civil and Religious Freedom” opens with a broadside shot on the legendary Jesuit journal La Civiltá Cattolica for its stern critique of the liberal Catholic thinker Charles de Montalembert. In the French journal Le Correspondant, Montalembert had called for the recognition in the Church’s thinking of religious toleration under modern political conditions. On one level, Montalembert had only argued for certain concessions to be granted various religious minorities, as a result, of certain realities that needed to be acknowledged in pluralistic countries. The Church was not going to obtain hegemony in countries like Britain, France, America, among others, and should renounce any claim of seeking recognition as an official religion. His Jesuit respondents had replied that the Church already deemed it necessary to bend to such prevailing winds, but what it would not do is acknowledge religious freedom as a natural right. Moreover, should social and political conditions change, then the Church in a particular country should resume the attempt to enthrone the Faith.

On what point, then, did these two parties disagree? Montalembert’s real crimes were in skirting too close to the edge of a natural right defense and, according to La Civiltá Cattolica, bringing shame upon the Church for its past stances. It was also not clear if Montalembert accepted the notion that Catholics should remain willing under favorable circumstances to achieve a state-backed Church. According to Brownson, Montalembert contended for “a free church in a free state.” In a more exacting formulation, Brownson reasoned that the Frenchman’s principles amounted to the notion that the state

Protects the religion of the citizen, not as approving or disapproving it, but as, before it, a natural and inalienable right. As before the state all citizens are equal in their rights, so all religions, not contra bonos mores, or incompatible with the public peace, embraced by its citizens, are equal before it, and entitled to equal and full protection. Hence a free church in a free state implies the liberty of false religions no less than of the true, the freedom of error no less than the freedom of truth,—the precise order which obtains in the United States.[3]

Brownson’s defense of natural rights began first with the prudential judgment that the oscurantisti party in the church, of which La Civiltá Cattolica was representative, had placed itself at odds with the democratic movement of western social order and thus at odds with liberty. This was a pointless stance, Brownson noted, and one that missed seizing the new opportunities that would secure the future freedom of the church. In the modern world, civil freedom is the “necessary condition of religious freedom.” To the charge lodged against Montalembert that in practically asserting religious freedom he brought opprobrium upon the Church because of its past opposition to such a doctrine, Brownson noted that this was no part of the deposit of faith in the Church. The Church’s practice in this regard had been just that, a practice, and not some aspect of the infallible teachings and dogmas of the Church. Change needed to occur. As a prudential matter, the Church needed to acknowledge the different spheres and competencies of its office and that of the State. What the Church could no longer countenance is the joining of its theological and spiritual expertise to the organs of the state for coercive rule. The exercise of such power was an error of past circumstances and the practices it had seemed to require.

Brownson, though, ultimately provided in this essay a teaching that goes beyond calculated adjustment to contemporary circumstances that existed between church and state. He grounded religious freedom in the nature of the human person because religion is the quintessential internal decision made by citizens and the state was “incompetent” to regulate this choice. Brownson observed that human beings possess equal rights to err before the state on religious identification. The state’s chief concern is with regulating external acts to prevent violence and fraud and to order citizens’s acts towards the common good. The mission of the Church, however, is “a spiritual not carnal one” and she directs persons through their conscience. To the extent the Church has an effect on the public order it is indirectly through the impact her teaching has on her members or those who have heard her proclaim the gospel and moral principles of the church and whose thinking and behavior changes accordingly. This is, Brownson contended, “the precise order which obtains in the United States.” It follows that “in all this she can address herself only to . . . moral nature, to . . . reason or understanding, his free will, his heart, and his conscience.”

The American Option

Brownson, though, did not merely restate America’s defense of religious freedom to the editors of La Civiltá Cattolica, but also stressed that American constitutionalism is really the form of government that most approximates a Christian anthropology and provides an example of how modern republics can realize the Christian idea of the integral development of the human person. On this point, Brownson observed that the First Amendment’s religion clauses were a specific limitation on the state’s power reminding it that it stood under a higher order of law. The right of citizens to situate themselves before God was anterior to political society, thus the supremacy of the spiritual order fundamentally limited the federal government. A core aspect, then, of freedom is grounded in personal communion with God.

Brownson stated forthrightly in “Civil and Religious Freedom” that “the spirit of Christ is the spirit of Liberty,” that God everywhere governs the moral world by moral power and not divine coercion. The Church’s teachings must be proposed not imposed, and be received and responded to by voluntary assent. But what was true for the Church was even truer for the state. The operations of government are entirely incompetent to prescribe any spiritual truths to the heart of man. The state’s province is in the temporal acts of governance and here it reigned supreme. The Church, however, Brownson argued, retained the authority to declare the natural law to any state that acted unjustly in its duties, but, Brownson seemed to stress, this is more of an exhortatory action by the Church.

Accompanying Brownson’s defense of religious liberty throughout the essay is the notion of corporate worship as the fundamental way we participate in religion. And this demands not merely freedom of conscience for merely private religious beliefs, but the full freedom of the Church as the entity whereby our thoughts and beliefs achieve their full expression in concert with others. Brownson recognized that reducing religious liberty to merely private conscience is to reduce greatly any vital public significance that it might have. The Church must not face sanction from the government in any of its efforts to teach or form its members, and citizens should be free to follow their faith as taught by churches. This freedom, Brownson continued, the Church demanded “not on the ground that she is the Church of God, but on the ground that she is our church, our religion, our conscience, and we are men and citizens.”[4]

The significance of Brownson’s freedom of the church teaching should be compared to the widely cited defense of conscience rights found in James Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments.” Madison’s claim here is absolute and a powerful bulwark against state interference with religious belief. He argued “in matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.” Madison further held that the person possesses a fundamental duty derived not from government but from nature to “render the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”

In his book American Compact (1999), Gary Rosen argued that the apparent radical teaching of Madison that government was limited by the citizen’s duty to God, is hedged by both its individualist context and Madison’s need to separate the things we do corporately with the body and the things we do privately with our minds. Madison, Rosen noted, looks to “the privileges enjoyed by individuals. . . . It is highly personal, so it discourages both collective action and deference to religious authority. . . . And it is resolutely other-worldly, so it manifests itself not in ritual observance or faith-inspired works—messy and quasi-political matters that involve our bodies—but in “conviction,” in the “opinions” that depend on our minds.” If Rosen is accurate that Madison’s document “does not so much trump the social compact,” as hew to the notion that religious belief is an experience, not a doctrine, then such subjectivity places sincerity at the forefront and downplays “right-thinking and acting.”

Rosen compared this right with the significance of the body in Madison’s political thought. The body is the source of social compact because its desires and needs “were the only legitimate basis for the most authoritative human association”: that of political society. These “promptings” held surety unlike the words of the prophets or apostles, which were ambiguous for Madison who denied “the human capacity to know the nature and existence of the commands of—and thus the duties toward—revelation’s God.” Perhaps what is foremost for Madison is to make religion safe for political society.

The Founders Built Better Than They Knew

I come not to argue that America is ill-founded with regard to religious liberty, but to note certain limitations of principles present at our Founding. Madison’s document, after all, is only one of many other significant defenses of religious liberty in American history. We need Brownson’s work to help our country in its ongoing quest to be republican and constitutional with regard to the high callings placed on the human soul by religion and faith. That is, the constitutional order, as Brownson recognized, to be itself must be located in relation to the soul and the vertical callings that citizens believe they have received from religion. Brownson argued in his essay “Union of Church and State” that “Religion without the church is a theory or a vague sentiment; religion concreted in the church is a living reality.” And this living reality, to use Brownson’s term, is more effectively able to vindicate and provide support for liberty and authority of religion in the social order.

Absent this real and effective armature of the church interposing its authority against state edicts, Brownson posited that religion will be merely tolerated by the state. But can an individual right divorced from any corporate freedom of the church have an enduring legal substance or will the individualized right of religious freedom be swallowed by the rapacious modern state? A reflection on modern political power discloses that the state will likely circumvent the weakness of individualized conscience rights because the prospect is too tantalizing of stepping into the shoes of religion and thereby achieving comprehensive control over its citizens.

Brownson argued that religious freedom was part of America’s providential or unwritten constitution that consisted of certain givens that constituted America. On this point, he said:

It is one of the mysteries of Providence that what the popes for ages struggled for and still struggle for  . . . should be for the first time in history be fully realized in a society founded by the most anti-papal people on earth, who held the church to be the Scarlet Lady of the Apocalypse. Surely, they builded better than they knew.[5]

This statement would find its way in a report issued by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884: “We consider the establishment of our country’s independence, the shaping of its liberties and laws, as a work of special Providence, its framers ‘building better than they knew,’ the Almighty’s hand guiding them.” This assemblage of Catholic bishops understood that in providing a wide scope of constitutional protection to liberties of many kinds, the American republic had created the most favorable terrain for the growth of Catholicism in the world. As Brownson presciently observed, “the church has, so far as civil society is concerned, all that she has ever claimed, all that she has ever struggled for. Here she is perfectly free.”[6]

The fate of the Republic hinged, Brownson believed, on how America and the Catholic Church worked out their dynamic tension in relation to each other. The Church’s failure to proclaim the Good News and to declare the natural law when need arose would doom our country to a nominalist fate of either Lockean individualism or humanitarian leveling. American freedom without proper grounding or purposes would wind its way into the paradoxical clutches of political modernity, and all of its anarchy and stultifying equality.

[1] Orestes Brownson, The Works of Orestes Brownson, Vol. IV (Detroit: H. F. Brownson, 1900): “Bishop Hopkins on Novelties,” 527–41, 530.

[2] Orestes Brownson, The Works of Orestes Brownson, Vol. XX (Detroit: H. F. Brownson, 1900): “Civil and Religious Freedom,” 308–314, 313.

[3] Ibid., 313.

[4] Ibid., 383.

[5] Orestes Brownson, The Works of Orestes Brownson, Vol. XIII (Detroit: H. F. Brownson, 1900): “Union of Church and State,” 127–45, 143.

[6] Orestes Brownson, The Works of Orestes Brownson, Vol. XIII (Detroit: H. F. Brownson, 1900): “Union of Church and State,” 127–45, 142.

Reader Discussion

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on October 19, 2017 at 13:36:19 pm

Richard:

Very nice, indeed!

Perhaps, Brownson should have been consulted before SCOTUS arrived at its Hobby Lobby and other decisions. They may have recognized that the value of a religious attachment, or of religion in itself, is not simply an individual matter; rather, as you show, it is the concomitant corporate function of religion that provides a clear and enduring value and a highly powerful, albeit potential, support for American constitutionalism. It appears that Black Robes have decided to reduce the religious sphere to that small space reserved for an *atomistic* individuals conscience - nothing more.

Interesting little note: Re: Madison's claim that religious duty / sensibility predates civil society.
For so long it has been argued / taught that religion *followed* agriculture, i.e., a civil society organized aroung farming, etc. News from the anthropologists now suggests that this is precisely *bass-ackwards*. Gobekli Tepe, in turkey, a rather large and important site from 15,000 years ago, would appear to indicate that religious purposes / needs / aims ACTUALLY predated the civil society. Indeed, it is being argued, by some notables, that the original purpose of Gebekli Tepe was religious in nature and that it occurred 4-5, 000 years before agriculture. Hmmmmm!

A question on Brownson:

His is an interesting take on the role of the Catholic chuirch over time. and his "prescription" for it is quite proper. What I sense, however, and I find this in many other commentators, is a failure to recognize the "strictures" under which the Church HAD to operate. For a millennia or more, it was forcibly co-opted by the State / Crown, etc. And yep, many in the Church willingly accepted this (benefitted from it, as well, but as a later state actor asked: "How many battalions does the Pope have.

I think Brownson is correct, howevr, when he asserts that under American consitutionalism, the Chruch had what it always (should have?) wanted.

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gabe
on October 19, 2017 at 15:33:41 pm

Brownson …. opposed political atheism because of its complete divorce of the political order from religion and morality. The publicly enforced notion that the state faces no source of authority higher than its own that can provide ethical direction to its laws and actions easily supported the position that the state is virtually unlimited in its powers.

Fine. But the alternative may well be a finding that the state must always act in subordination to the higher claim of the dictates of Allah and his one prophet Mohammad (peace be upon Him). Or perhaps to the dictates of EVERY religion we can identify: No meat. No wine. No private property. No medical interventions. Etc.

If you find that idea distasteful, you might draw a different conclusion than Brownson did about the merits of political atheism.

“Religion without the church is a theory or a vague sentiment; religion concreted in the church is a living reality.” And this living reality, to use Brownson’s term, is more effectively able to vindicate and provide support for liberty and authority of religion in the social order.

Absent this real and effective armature of the church interposing its authority against state edicts, Brownson posited that religion will be merely tolerated by the state. But can an individual right divorced from any corporate freedom of the church have an enduring legal substance or will the individualized right of religious freedom be swallowed by the rapacious modern state? A reflection on modern political power discloses that the state will likely circumvent the weakness of individualized conscience rights because the prospect is too tantalizing of stepping into the shoes of religion and thereby achieving comprehensive control over its citizens.

To refine this somewhat:

Yes, when people meet and organize regularly for pretty much any reason, they become “more effectively able to vindicate and provide support for liberty and authority of [their group] in the social order.” Note that “liberty” refers to the capacity to resist the state/social order. For example, Southern state officials met and organized a rival military, by which to better resist the federal government’s efforts to emancipate slaves. Criminals met and organized criminal syndicates to better resist the state’s efforts to curtail their criminal operations. The Branch Davidians organized in a manner to better resist the state’s efforts to rescue their children from sexual predation by David Koresh. Whether you conclude that these efforts resulted in the promotion of liberty is up to you.

But to achieve these liberty benefits, should “freedom of religion” require anything more than freedom of association?

It is one of the mysteries of Providence that what the popes for ages struggled for and still struggle for . . . should be for the first time in history be fully realized in a society founded by the most anti-papal people on earth, who held the church to be the Scarlet Lady of the Apocalypse. Surely, they builded better than they knew.

Indeed. Thus we have relatively little official church support, and (compared to Europe) relatively strong church affiliation. We have legal divorce, out-of-wedlock birth, and abortion—and the rates of these phenomena have been declining for a decade or more. Aggregate charitable donations have never been higher.
In short, there’s simply not a more congenial spot for practicing religion than in a land governed by this religiously neutral government. So why would religious people act so aggrieved by the US government, and keep proposing to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs?

Moderation is life; minimalism is death. Choose life!

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nobody.really
on October 19, 2017 at 15:47:19 pm

I'm having a bad run.

Let's make that "Moderation is life; maximalization is death. Choose life!

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nobody.really
on October 19, 2017 at 16:20:10 pm

Fantastic read!

Do you mind if I print off this article and show some of my students in a local politics class I teach (New Zealand based).

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Matthew Chalk
on October 19, 2017 at 17:23:17 pm

nobody:

At first read, this appeared to be another of your screeds -AND that is unfortunate as the analogous associations and their somewhat less benign motives would serve only as an example *against* "corporate" liberty for the Church (of any kind).

Yet, you correctly identify the underlying issue, liberty of association and its consequent benefits WHILE simultaneously DENYING the reality that under current SCOTUS (and State / District level) jurisprudence would appear to deny the very liberty of corporate association that you yourself recognize as inherently valuable. SCOTUS, while, minimally affirming religious (conscience) rights) has done so ONLY on an individual basis - not, I submit, on a *corporate* basis. In other words, any individual may possess, express, proselytize all manner of beliefs - provided that they do so as an expression of conscience and not as a member of a corporate religious association.

There is the rub - and, in case you missed it, that was the rub of Brownsons commentary:

" “Religion without the church is a theory or a vague sentiment; religion concreted in the church is a living reality.” And this living reality, to use Brownson’s term, is more effectively able to vindicate and provide support for liberty and authority of religion in the social order.

Absent this real and effective armature of the church interposing its authority against state edicts, Brownson posited that religion will be merely tolerated by the state. But can an individual right divorced from any corporate freedom of the church have an enduring legal substance or will the individualized right of religious freedom be swallowed by the rapacious modern state? A reflection on modern political power discloses that the state will likely circumvent the weakness of individualized conscience rights because the prospect is too tantalizing of stepping into the shoes of religion and thereby achieving comprehensive control over its citizens."

Brownson is here expressing the same respect for and acknowledgment of Burke's "Little Platoons" - with one noticeable difference: Brownson perceives the role of a corporate Church to be a rather large platoon while cautioning against this particular platoon from becoming an overarching infantry battalion - a militia, or corporeal arm of the State.

All in all, I think Brownson (and Richard) have struck quite the proper balance. Those *golden eggs* have begun to fester / spoil / and stink in the past century as we have transformed freedom FOR religious associations into a "minimalist" (your words) individual conscience right.

What is that line from "Gladiator" when the old Senator implores Maximus to help the Senate? "Oh, the Republic that was" (or some such rot). There was a time when as Brownson says, the American Republic did indeed provide golden eggs for the religiously inclined / affiliated. That time is long past and Commodus sits on the *throne.*

And you wonder why the "aggrieved" are concerned about the fecundity of the matter hurled in their direction by the *throne.*

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gabe
on October 19, 2017 at 20:28:12 pm

It really is an excellent read! So much contained in it; I would like to read the entire essay as originally written; I see there is a link to it above - glad for it!

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Paul Binotto
on October 19, 2017 at 23:23:57 pm

…the reality that under current SCOTUS (and State / District level) jurisprudence would appear to deny the very liberty of corporate association that you yourself recognize as inherently valuable.

Huh? You remember Hobby Lobby, in which the Supreme Court upheld the religious rights of a corporation, right?

[A]ny individual may possess, express, proselytize all manner of beliefs – provided that they do so as an expression of conscience and not as a member of a corporate religious association.

Can we think of a concrete example when this distinction has made a difference?

Thus we have relatively little official church support, and (compared to Europe) relatively strong church affiliation. We have legal divorce, out-of-wedlock birth, and abortion—and the rates of these phenomena have been declining for a decade or more. Aggregate charitable donations have never been higher. In short, there’s simply not a more congenial spot for practicing religion than in a land governed by this religiously neutral government. So why would religious people act so aggrieved by the US government, and keep proposing to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs?

Those *golden eggs* have begun to fester / spoil / and stink in the past century as we have transformed freedom FOR religious associations into a “minimalist” (your words) individual conscience right.

Can we identify a legal regime anywhere in the world that has proven more amenable to all religions?

Yes, religious affiliation in the US has begun to decline. But arguably that’s a result of three factors.

1. US religious affiliation—along with all other kinds of affiliation—surged during and after WWII, and has been gradually regressing to the mean ever since.

2. As religious affiliation has begun to decline, people who are threatened by change have adopted a “downswing,” defensive, doctrinaire posture—in the US, illustrated by attacks on the LGBT and foreigners, and embrace of Donald Trump as a champion. The apparent mean-spiritedness, narrow-mindedness, and hypocrisy have rendered religious affiliation less attractive to younger people.

3. Third, immigration from the very Catholic Latin American has tapered off.

No changes in religion’s legal standing during the past decade has had as strong an effect on the fate of religion as these dynamics have.

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nobody.really
on October 20, 2017 at 10:33:47 am

"But arguably that’s a result of three factors. "

As to #1 - Yep, probably!

#2 - What a pleasant narrative you advance - back to the old ad hominem attack!. Perhaps, it has nothing to do with a religious sensibility but rather with a concern for a) American cultural mores vs the lefties demand for multiculturalism and diversity and b) (for LGBT -XYZ, etc) a concern for modesty, restraint and a fear for the ill effects of such behavior and the accompanying indoctrination by the teaching profession on young children.

#3 - Are you kidding me? There has been a continuing surge of immigrants from Mexico and Latin America over the past 40 years; now, it may be tailing off under The Trumpster but to argue that Latin American, i.e., "Catholic" immigration, has tailed off is to willfully deny the obvious.

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gabe
on October 20, 2017 at 10:39:17 am

Oops forgot this:

"No changes in religion’s legal standing during the past decade has had as strong an effect on the fate of religion as these dynamics have."

Really - and what is the effect of all the SCOTUS, and District Court rulings on so-called" *religious* monuments - war memorials, etc, public expressions of faith, high school football prayer, etc etc etc. Now apparently a headstones are subject to the "establishment test."
Kindly cease trying to pass off your peculiar understanding of the "dynamics" of the current controversy; there are many here among us who are actually capable of *observing* the world and have no need of yoru particular lens.

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gabe
on October 20, 2017 at 11:03:33 am

"Huh? You remember Hobby Lobby, in which the Supreme Court upheld the religious rights of a corporation, right? "

I mean, REALLY?

You are far too bright to actually a) believe this and b) think that you can offer this linguistic subterfuge to our fellow readers.

You know quite well that the use of the phrase "corporate religion" has ABSOTIVELY NOTHING to do with a corporation that happens to be run by a religious person.

Therefore, no "Chevron - Auer deference" for you, my friend. Nor any soup!!!!

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gabe
on October 20, 2017 at 12:42:35 pm

Then again, I suppose it is *narrowminded* to be upset about some *tranny* (allegedly man-to-woman type) sexually assaulting a 10 year old girl in a restroom:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/19/transgender-wyoming-woman-convicted-sexually-assaulting-10-year-old-girl-in-bathroom.html

OR

(several) Florida high school teachers engage in lesbian relations with their students.

Yep - this is clearly *narrowminded*

Can you just admit that people may have legitimate concerns regarding the new "sexuality" (such as it is).

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gabe
on October 20, 2017 at 13:28:47 pm

As religious affiliation has begun to decline, people who are threatened by change have adopted a “downswing,” defensive, doctrinaire posture—in the US, illustrated by attacks on the LGBT and foreigners, and embrace of Donald Trump as a champion. The apparent mean-spiritedness, narrow-mindedness, and hypocrisy have rendered religious affiliation less attractive to younger people.

What a pleasant narrative you advance – back to the old ad hominem attack!. Perhaps, it has nothing to do with a religious sensibility but rather with a concern for a) American cultural mores vs the lefties demand for multiculturalism and diversity and b) (for LGBT -XYZ, etc) a concern for modesty, restraint and a fear for the ill effects of such behavior and the accompanying indoctrination by the teaching profession on young children.

Well, there are many overlapping trends here. For example, younger Americans are more likely to support same-sex marriage than older Americans, are less likely to support Trump, and are less likely to profess a religious affiliation.

Can't say which variables are the cause and which are the effect; I suppose you could make up a variety of stories rationalizing this data.

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nobody.really
on October 20, 2017 at 13:29:24 pm

There has been a continuing surge of immigrants from Mexico and Latin America over the past 40 years; now, it may be tailing off under The Trumpster but to argue that Latin American, i.e., “Catholic” immigration, has tailed off is to willfully deny the obvious.

Uh ... no, I'm not denying the obvious; I'm acknowledging the facts.

Yes, immigrants have filled a growing number of pews over the years. According to the Pew Center, in 2015 [r]acial and ethnic minorities [were] 41% of Catholics (up from 35% in 2007), 24% of evangelical Protestants (up from 19%) and 14% of mainline Protestants (up from 9%).

But Mexican immigration peaked around 2000 and, except for a brief uptick in 2004, has been declining ever since. Trump may have many remarkable qualities, but the ability to time-travel isn't one of them. (If he had that ability, he surely would have corrected many tweets by now.)

And the decline of Latin immigration corresponds with the overall decline in religious affiliation. No, immigration isn't the whole story, as I've said--but it would be hard to deny that it's part of the story.

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nobody.really
on October 20, 2017 at 13:47:49 pm

Then again, I suppose it is *narrowminded* to be upset about some *tranny* (allegedly man-to-woman type) sexually assaulting a 10 year old girl in a restroom:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/19/transgender-wyoming-woman-convicted-sexually-assaulting-10-year-old-girl-in-bathroom.html

OR

(several) Florida high school teachers engage in lesbian relations with their students.

Yep – this is clearly *narrowminded*

Can you just admit that people may have legitimate concerns regarding the new “sexuality” (such as it is).

Seriously? Well, if you insist:

1. Please present data regarding the number of people who have been assaulted by a transgendered person in a bathroom, and compare it to data on the number of people who have been assaulted by a cis-gendered person in a bathroom.

2. Please present data about the number of high school teachers who have had gay relationships with their students and the number of high school teachers who have had heterosexual relationships with their students.

I strongly suspect that you will document that the real threat to people is not from transgendered and lesbian people, but from cis-gendered and heterosexual people.

Ha! Just joking. Rather, I strongly suspect that you will utterly fail to provide any statistics in support of your thesis, because doing so might take effort, and might threaten your prejudices.

But hey, look, here's a story about a crime committed by a Jew! Can you just admit that people may have legitimate concerns regarding those goddamn Jews? Gosh, hate is fun -- and easy!

...gabe, don't stoop to the level of Fox News. You're better than this.

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nobody.really
on October 20, 2017 at 14:29:32 pm

Just to set the record straight (oops, I must mean to set it *cis* (is that the term) Ha!);

The purpose behind the offered links was NOT to establish a credible case that tranny's / gays, etc. are out there in huge numbers waiting to assault our "yung'uns" but only to show that there are at least some concerns / fears (rightly or wrongly) that there is now more to fear than previously. Incidents such as those I linked to may be said to raise concerns in many people - not just religious folks, either as my secular tailgating buddies demonstrate - and a) we should not be immediately and sarcastically dismissive of these sensibilities and b) we should also recognize that some of the Obama era *guidance* on tranny bathrooms, as an example, do present a higher possibility of untoward behavior toward others being realized.

simple as that!

As to the mix of gay / straight teacher student *encounters*, figures are probably not available; then again, weren't all you SJW's up in arms about Catholic priests and their little misadventures. Gee, they were gay!
and I would submit that counter to the operative narrative, it was the fact of their "gayness" that was the most salient element of the episodes - not that they were Catholic.

But i could regale you with tales from my own childhood neighborhood - it ain't a pretty picture and I can attest that there were numerous Mayor Ed Murray's preying upon the drug addled amongst us.

And as you well know, I don;t do FOX NEWS. Didn't even know the link came from there.

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gabe
on October 20, 2017 at 15:30:25 pm

Just to set the record straight (oops, I must mean to set it *cis*….)

You piss me off. And, ok, that’s kinda clever; I'm gonna use that one.

The purpose behind the offered links was NOT to establish a credible case that tranny’s / gays, etc. are out there in huge numbers waiting to assault our “yung’uns” but only to show that there are at least some concerns / fears (rightly or wrongly) that there is now more to fear than previously. Incidents such as those I linked to may be said to raise concerns in many people – not just religious folks, either as my secular tailgating buddies demonstrate – and a) we should not be immediately and sarcastically dismissive of these sensibilities and b) we should also recognize that some of the Obama era *guidance* on tranny bathrooms, as an example, do present a higher possibility of untoward behavior toward others being realized.

Fair enough. And unfair enough.

Yes, gabe, people have fear. They fear transgendered people. They fear lesbians. They fear immigrants. They fear Jews.

But no, gabe, these fears are not rational. Until I see the data I requested, I must conclude that the fears are irrational. That is, they’re prejudice. And we have a duty to control our own prejudices, to the best of our abilities.

Do transgender and lesbian people do bad things? Of course.

But here’s the big insight: ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE DO BAD THINGS.

Here’s the insight: TRANS PEOPLE GOTTA PEE, TOO. So they’re going to use SOME bathroom. And when they do, SOME percentage of them will do bad things. Moving them from one bathroom to another merely moves the location where problems are likely to arise. How does that solve anything?

Here’s the insight: TEACHERS HAVE SEX WITH STUDENTS. So if we eliminate all lesbians from teacher jobs, those jobs will be filled by someone else—someone who, as far as anyone knows, is prone to have sex with students. How does that solve anything?

It doesn’t. Indeed, in each case, the potential fix will almost certainly cause more harm than it remedies. Does anybody think that telling a transgender woman to use the men's room, and a transgender man to use the woman's room, is going to reduce the potential for assaults? Does anybody think that lesbians are more likely to be sexual predators than—well, pretty much anybody else?

[W]eren’t all you SJW’s up in arms about Catholic priests and their little misadventures. Gee, they were gay! And I would submit that, counter to the operative narrative, it was the fact of their “gayness” that was the most salient element of the episodes – not that they were Catholic.

And I would submit that it was their hypocrisy that was the salient element of the episodes: The Catholic Church, which has spent millennia lecturing people about sexual immorality, is found to be unable to control its own sexual immorality. The fact that there was gay sexual immorality only heightened the hypocrisy. (If it makes you feel any better, there were heterosexual affairs as well; indeed, I seem to recall a secret Catholic fund to contribute to the rearing of the children of Catholic priests.)

Remember the Music Man song, “Trouble”: “We’ve got trouble, my friends—yes, trouble, right here in River City….” The song depicted a con man trying to make people frightened, so that later on they’d be willing to buy a solution from him.

Now remember Trump's words:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

* * *

The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.

Is it true that immigrants have drugs and commit crimes? Sure. The same is true of any socioeconomic group. But all available evidence is that first-generation immigrants are less likely to do so than native-born Americans. So if you have to walk through a crowd of native-born Americans or first-generation immigrants, you'd be better off with the immigrants.

But that’s not the impression Trump gives. He gives the impression that immigrants are especially threatening. Why? Because he knows that if he can make you scared, he can win your support. The same is true of Fox News. It’s been a traditional strategy since River City.

So please, please: Stop circulating stories that exist only to demonize some minority group. If you have real data of a real threat, then sure, circulate it. But if someone sends you a story about how another Jew got caught doing something naughty, even if the story is true, think twice before forwarding it on. Because there’s a substantial likelihood that Jews are no more likely to do naughty things than are members of other groups, and you only heard about the story because it happened to conform to someone's preconceptions about Jews. Why amplify prejudice?

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nobody.really
on October 21, 2017 at 12:43:24 pm

Nobody:

Good points, actually and no, I was not (intentionally) engaging in fear mongering.

Let me 'splain:

I think, (like you also do, I believe) that the typical reader here at Law & Liberty is not the type to be so swayed by a news report on such a matter; that the typical LLB reader is beyond that reaction, both intellectually and emotionally (wouldnt't you agree?); that they are also capable of perceiving the intent of the writer and NOT confusing it with the *expected* intent / motivations ascribed to people by the Left.

I also suspect that YOU know that I was not engaging in the typical leftist fear mongering.
In any event, that was not my intent.

Now for another reason why religious affiliation may be on the decline. It gets back to what I have been saying for decades: He who seeks to be relevant may ultimately sink into irrelevance, and any organization so attempting will even more rapidly lose allegiance / followers.

Here is another Church that has decided to go *Mainstream*, defined herein as "Progressive." Much like the decline of Mainstream Protestantism caused by a desperate search for relevance had caused a diminution in the importance of traditional Church thinking, this episode evidences the final decline / dissipation, wherein the Evangelical Luther Church is ABANDONING THE GOSPELS. Ha! That'll show 'em!

https://pjmedia.com/faith/lutheran-church-decides-best-way-retain-members-stop-preaching-gospel/

C'mon, even you must admit that this is insane.
Then again, it may simply mean that Luther has, at long last, had a full bowel movement.

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gabe
on October 21, 2017 at 18:10:31 pm

OK, nobody: BEFORE you start accusing me of "fear-mongering", let me "'splain" again.

This link is provided (as was the last one) in an effort to demonstrate TO YOU *why* many folks are concerned about the current and almost unstoppable trend by the Left, and in particular the 3rd and 4th rate minds that populate the *teaching* profession to normalize heretofore aberrant sexual behavior, and the sad effects (and *affects*) upon young children:

Wherein grade school instructors host a sex-toy party for pre-adolescents;

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/10/21/teacher-fired-throwing-x-rated-classroom-party-featuring-dildos/

Each and every day, one may find some similar outrage. Have these people lost their minds or are they SO dedicated to advancing their agenda that they would jeopardize the mental health of pre-pubescent children.

And you wonder why folks get upset with your agenda.

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gabe
on October 21, 2017 at 22:55:09 pm

And you wonder why folks get upset with your agenda.

My agenda? People barely focus on my agenda, what with people like you marching around with flaming torches and running civil rights protestors down in your cars.

Of course, I suspect you had nothing to do with the events in Charlottesville—just as I have nothing to do with the stories you’ve found. But why should anyone be bound by relevance or reason?

Honestly, gabe, even you must tire of this nonsense eventually.

this episode evidences the final decline / dissipation, wherein the Evangelical Luther Church is ABANDONING THE GOSPELS. Ha! That’ll show ’em!

https://pjmedia.com/faith/lutheran-church-decides-best-way-retain-members-stop-preaching-gospel/

C’mon, even you must admit that this is insane.

Yup, it’s insane that people read P.J. Media and forward that crap.

P.J. Media has a story entitled, “Lutheran Church Decides That the Best Way to Retain Members Is to Stop Preaching the Gospel.” This story is cribbed from another story issued by Religion New Service, affiliated with the respected U. Missouri journalism school.

The Region News Service story never mentions the word “Gospel,” or any of the Gospels, or the rejection of them. The story discusses a sermon on Genesis, which appears in the Old Testament, not the Gospels. True, the pastor emphasizes the primacy of the Gospels as opposed to the Old Testament, but that’s hardly a novel proposition. It appears the P.J. Media writer was not well acquainted with this subject. (Amusingly, the author makes a point of quoting Second Timothy 3:16: "All scripture is breathed out by God." But the author evidences no knowledge of the controversy surrounding the word “scripture.” We tend to use that word to refer to the Gospels—but at the time Paul wrote those words, the Gospels did not yet exist.)

Finally, the Region News Service story reports that membership in mainline Christian Churches has been declining, that this congregation is doing some novel things, and that attendance has grown by 27%.

The decline of mainline Christian churches (Catholic and Protestant) is a fascinating topic. The trend had been more pronounced in Europe for decades, and it appears to have reached our shores. It seems to parallel the trend in politics: People are flocking to the extremes—those with a strong attachment to faith are shifting to an ever more dogmatic version of their faith, while those with a weaker attachment are shifting away—and the middle is hollowing out. It should also be noted that mainline Protestant churches have never been good at evangelizing. Traditionally they got their members as people rose in social class, moved to tonier neighborhoods, and joined the upper-crust churches. But today, white-collar employment no longer entails an implicit assumption that you must join the boss’s country club and church, so the mainline churches have been starved for new members.

Does P.J. Media offer any of this context for their story? No, ‘cuz that wouldn’t get people riled up. Does P.J. Media acknowledge that the pastor’s efforts have increased participation by 27%? No, thought it makes a passing reference to the congregation’s membership in their story’s final paragraph. Outrageous, context-free stories are what P.J. Media specializes in, because they know suckers eat those stories up.

OK, nobody: BEFORE you start accusing me of “fear-mongering”, let me “‘splain” again.

This link is provided (as was the last one) in an effort to demonstrate TO YOU *why* many folks are concerned about the current and almost unstoppable trend by the Left, and in particular the 3rd and 4th rate minds that populate the *teaching* profession to normalize heretofore aberrant sexual behavior, and the sad effects (and *affects*) upon young children:

Wherein grade school instructors host a sex-toy party for pre-adolescents;

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/10/21/teacher-fired-throwing-x-rated-classroom-party-featuring-dildos/

Each and every day, one may find some similar outrage. Have these people lost their minds or are they SO dedicated to advancing their agenda that they would jeopardize the mental health of pre-pubescent children.

And you wonder why folks get upset with your agenda.

1. If you are seriously talking to nobody, you don’t need to post your ruminations here. If you’re talking to me, please respond so something I’m talking about. This is a blog discussion about The Church and the Republic. The state of public education, whatever its merits, is pretty much irrelevant to the topic.

You suggest that something about this topic is somehow relevant to me. Yet, without providing any link to anything I have ever said, I’m really at a loss.

2. This appear to be a story about (a) an after-school surprise party (b) thrown for former students, but where current students happened to be in attendance (c) by a dance instructor (d) at a charter school.
What does the conduct of one dance instructor at an after-school event at a charter school have to say about the public school teaching profession in general? And assuming that you wanted to cite one article to make some commentary about the state of public education, you couldn’t find anything more insightful than THIS? You can’t find any studies? Any analyses? Any commentary from policy analysts—even conservative analysts?

You want to make some sweeping statement about education—and this is your foundation? Seriously?

Finally:

And as you well know, I don’t do FOX NEWS. Didn’t even know the link came from there.

Gabe—seriously? You OBVIOUSLY do Fox News; you provided the link! It’s sitting right there in the comments—right in front of everyone’s face! Have you come down with Donald Trump Disease?
Moreover, now you’re providing links to Brietbart and P.J. Media. Those are just Fox News wannabes. Of course you’re outraged: THAT’S THEIR BUSINESS MODEL.

On the other hand, right now Newsweek—not Fox, not Breitbart, not WhackaDoodle Daily—has a story about Robert Jeffress, a Southern Baptist pastor, Fox News commentator, and Trump supporter, saying that that the Roman Catholic Church is the result of the Babylonian cult system founded by the Book of Revelation.

Gosh, gabe, what should I do?

Should I start posting this everywhere, declaring how this story justifies the conclusion that everyone on the right side of the political spectrum is prejudiced and crazy?

Or should I conclude that this is one story about one guy—and that his views probably don’t even represent the views of the people in his congregation, let alone everyone in half of the political spectrum?

Help me out here, gabe. I need the advice of an expert fear monger.

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nobody.really
on October 22, 2017 at 12:36:25 pm

NOBODY!

Once again you reveal yourself as an APOLOGIST for the vile, deluded, self-righteous purveyors of the modern ethos.

I recall that as a child there was a weekly listing provided by the Catholic church in a local parish paper. The group was known as the Legion of Decency and it *informed* the reader as to what movies were acceptable. It could be said to have predated the Movie Industry's own code rating. As children, we, of course, were always anxious to see the movies rated "condemned".

How different is your approach from those old clergyment and laypeople who presumed to determine what was proper. Here, you now deem certain media outlet to be "condemned."
Simply put: "Who the *&^%^& are you to determine what media outlets anyone SHOULD avail themselves of. Who are you to "condemn these sources to the depths of a Dante-like purgatory?

One takes information wherever one finds it.

In the past, I have characterized, at times, your particular form of argumentation as "spurious." Let me update that: It is not only spurious but MENDACIOUS - a modern day exemplar of "pettifogging, balderdash all presented in the service of a warped and distorted vision of the role of the morally superior, albeit, in a posture of dispassionate interest (much like your beloved NPR, whose former CEO has recently come out and exposed the rank hypocrisy of NPR, BTW) and erudition.

Your APOLOGIA for the deluded and presumptuous "dance instructor" which revolved around the *factoid* that "it was for former students" marred, incidentally, by the presence of some current students is both deceptive and contrived.
The fact remains that these self appointed "in-loco parentis" educators HAD NO BUSINESS whatsoever exposing young children to this sort of "instruction. It is the role of parents to so instruct their children - not some third rate moral / cultural philosophe! This salient fact is pushed off to a *spur* as you servilely seek to deny the presumptuous behaviopr of these sexual "liberators" and to again establish your own enlightened credentials.

AGAIN! AND YOU WONDER WHY parents are alarmed at what is taught in schools, at what pre-pubescent children are exposed to by the *cream* of our educational establishment.

Sorry, nobody! the only ones to be "shamed" in this episode are the idiot, mentally unbalanced educators who think it appropriate to teach your children about *&*^% DILDOS!!!! - and clearly not me, either for availing myself of the information provided by the modern day equivalent of the Legion of Deceny's condemned outlets or for refusing to accept as valid the IMPROPER SEXUAL INITIATION OF YOUNG CHILDREN.

During the Amer League Champ Series, we were informed that Jose Altuve was ONLY the third player in MLB history to have hit a homerun in both the 6th and 7th games of a Championship series WHILE HITTING FROM THE 3RD position.

This is what passes as information in the sports world.
It is however meaningless - it is data not *Shannon* information.

So much of what you write (more often than not culled from the likes of Wikipedia, no doubt) is simply "data" with no meaningful information. Indeed, your data is worse in that it INTENDS to mislead.

Now get about the business of censoring somebody else; conjure up more misleading and mendacious data. It is what you lefty trolls exist for.

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gabe
on October 30, 2017 at 18:31:55 pm

As religious affiliation has begun to decline, people who are threatened by change have adopted a “downswing,” defensive, doctrinaire posture—in the US, illustrated by attacks on the LGBT and foreigners, and embrace of Donald Trump as a champion. The apparent mean-spiritedness, narrow-mindedness, and hypocrisy have rendered religious affiliation less attractive to younger people.

What a pleasant narrative you advance – back to the old ad hominem attack!

“Has this election exposed a generational divide among Christians?”

“It has. In the end, the word that is used most often when I talk to the young is ‘hypocrisy. They sat in their churches, and they heard certain conduct described as wrong. Yet when Donald Trump did it, or when it was reported on a video, we heard kind of a ‘boys will be boys’ sort of response even from very, very prominent religious leaders. They began to wonder if the message they had been hearing all those years in church was consistent with the people they had respected.”

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nobody.really
on November 09, 2017 at 10:42:14 am

From PubMed.gov, the publishing arm of the National Institutes of Health: Differences in negativity bias underlie variations in political ideology.

[L]iberals and conservatives differ from each other in purviews of life with little direct connection to politics—from tastes in art, to desire for closure … from disgust sensitivity, to the tendency to pursue new information…. Compared with liberals, conservatives tend to register greater physiological responses to [negative] stimuli and also to devote more psychological resources to them. ….We … stress[] that identifying differences across ideological groups is not tantamount to declaring one ideology superior to another.

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nobody.really

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