I said I was unplugging from politics this weekend…but I needed something to get my mind off the pain of a long run this morning so I started thinking about these questions: Given the recent jailing of Kim Davis, can a Christian be a member of government? Is it possible for people of faith to hold positions (elected or otherwise) in any US government agency?
My take – they can…for now.
Long term? I’m not optimistic.
Due to the steady, methodical march of progressive secularism culminating in the 5-4 Obergefell decision, the SCOTUS has effectively installed government as the ultimate arbiter of faith. It now has the power to decide whether your belief in God (or anything for that matter) is valid…and as the same-sex marriage issue proves, your beliefs will always be considered invalid if they are not in agreeance with those of the government.
Note that I am also careful in the use of the word “government” to describe a ruling entity apart and separate from the people because the American government has in fact achieved such a position in American life. It is no longer responsive to even the majority of the people or is bound by enumerated Constitutional powers. It does not respect majority decisions made by the people at the state level if they do not align with what the federal government decides is appropriate. The government has been so permeated with progressivism, postmodernism and secular humanism that it now has its own agenda, the people be damned.
In an oft cited excerpt from F.A. Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom”, he explains why, as governance trends toward totalitarianism, an “official morality” evolves:
“Since it is the supreme leader who alone determines the ends, his instruments must have no moral convictions of their own. They must, above all, be unreservedly committed to the person of the leader; but next to this the most important thing is that they should be completely unprincipled and literally capable of everything. They must have no ideals of their own which they want to realize; no ideas about right or wrong which might interfere with the intentions of the leader…
The only tastes which are satisfied are the taste for power as such and the pleasure of being obeyed and of being part of a well-functioning and immensely powerful machine to which everything else must give way.”
Viewing the Kim Davis situation through the lens of Hayek’s observation, it seems clear this situation isn’t the end of religious freedom – but you can see it from here. One of the informative aspects of the situation is how the authenticity of Davis’ religious objections was attacked universally by the left and also by some on the right. I heard things like “she was a bad person”, “she was divorced and an adulterer – things her Bible forbids” and “she isn’t a real Christian, she has only been a Christian for four years.” The question was not if she was a Christian but was she a VALID Christian.
And where does contemporary culture most often turn for a ruling of validity? Why that would be to a little institution called “government”.
I fear it is all too likely the sad end of the Establishment Clause will come from the right – likely from a “moderate” Republican. I’m not sure who the GOP Ephialtes (the traitorous Spartan who told Xerxes about the goat path at the Battle of Thermopylae) will be but I would wager it will start with yet another misguided urge to turn to government, ostensibly for the “protection” of Christianity. One of our brilliant elected representatives will introduce a bill to create a “Board of Religion” to “protect” those who claim religious opposition by setting some standards of validity for being religious.
But such boards are not really designed to protect the public – they are designed to block those who don’t quite make the grade with the authorities from participation. States have Boards that define licensure for the most esoteric of things – everything from cosmetologists and barbers to tanning and nail salons. Any such “Board of Religion” will be used to exclude rather than include…and since Christian morality is often at odds with Hayek’s proposition of a morality defined by government, guess what views will be excluded?
Some would say that this can never happen due to the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution – my reply is that a left leaning Supreme Court will not care what the Constitution says – Justice Scalia noted that the Obergefell decision had little to do with actual law and more to do with the four liberals and switch hitter Anthony Kennedy manufacturing “social justice”.
If it gets to the point where the government takes the euphemistic goat path as a provider of a level of card-carrying legitimacy for religion, the establishment clause will last about as long as Leonidas and his 300 lasted at the Hot Gates.