Why should secular liberals get to dictate religious doctrine to believers?
.. In January 2016, Vought published a blog post at The Resurgent in which he stated that Muslims “do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”
.. This, Sanders declared at the nominee’s confirmation hearing, was “indefensible,” “hateful,” and “Islamophobic.” “This nominee,” Sanders harrumphed, “is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”
.. Sanders defended the line of questioning. Vought “and any other American has the right to hold any point of view they want,” said Sanders, but it is “unacceptable” “to have a high-ranking member of the United States government essentially say Islam is a second-class religion.”
.. It was not enough that Farron supported a legal right to abortion and same-sex marriage; the fact that he privately believed them to be sinful acts was not allowed to pass unchallenged. He was routinely attacked in the media — again, not for anything he had done, but for views about matters theological that he held privately. Farron’s resignation speech was striking: “To be a political leader — especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 — and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”
.. The BBC demands that Tim Farron not think abortion is a sin — even though virtually no one among Britain’s political and media elite believes in the idea of “sin.”
.. A person of faith might justifiably ask: Why does Bernie Sanders get to decide the appropriate theology of salvation? Why do Sky News anchors get to decide what is and isn’t a sin?
.. There is a long and stupid tradition of believing that the American Right threatens to impose an Evangelical Christian theocracy on the United States — that every Republican lawmaker is looking to erect an official church and make women cover their ankles. In reality, it is the proudly irreligious Left that has smuggled religious debates back into our politics. It is the unabashedly secular Left that has knocked down the “wall of separation” and made the afterlife an immanent political issue.
.. Our new theocrats think differently, though, and no surprise: The dirty little secret of secular liberalism is not that its practitioners don’t believe in God; it’s that they believe they are God.
In a wide-ranging interview Paglia talks about Donald Trump’s successes, how Chuck Schumer emboldened the “resistance,” why the left can’t condemn Islamist terrorism, and “the cold biological truth that sex changes are impossible.”..Camille Paglia: Some background is necessary. First of all, I must make my political affiliations crystal clear. I am a registered Democrat who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary and for Jill Stein in the general election. Since last Fall, I’ve had my eye on Kamala Harris, the new senator from California, and I hope to vote for her in the next presidential primary... What seems forgotten is that everyone, including the Hillary Clinton campaign, thought that Marco Rubio would be the Republican nominee. The moment was ideal for a Latino candidate with national appeal who could challenge the Democratic hold on Florida... Trump’s frankly arrogant self-confidence spooked and crushed Rubio—it was a total fiasco... My position continues to be that Hillary, with her supercilious, Marie Antoinette-style entitlement, was a disastrously wrong candidate for 2016 and that she secured the nomination only through overt chicanery by the Democratic National Committee, assisted by a corrupt national media who, for over a year, imposed a virtual blackout on potential primary rivals... Bernie Sanders had the populist passion, economic message, government record, and personal warmth to counter Trump...Despite his history of embarrassing gaffes, the affable, plain-spoken Joe Biden, in my view, could also have defeated Trump, but he was blocked from running at literally the last moment by President Barack Obama, for reasons that the major media refused to explore... the election results plainly demonstrated that Trump was speaking to vital concerns (jobs, immigration, and terrorism among them) for which the Democrats had few concrete solutions... How do Democrats imagine they can ever expand their electoral support if they go on and on in this self-destructive way, impugning half the nation as vile racists and homophobes?.. I see no more chaos than was abundantly present during the first six months of both the Clinton and Obama administrations... Trump seems to be methodically trying to fulfill his campaign promises, notably regarding the economy and deregulation.. Many highly educated, upper-middle-class Democrats regard themselves as exemplars of “compassion” (which they have elevated into a supreme political principle) and yet they routinely assail Trump voters as ignorant, callous hate-mongers... The laborers who build and maintain these marvels are recognized only if they can be shoehorned into victim status... Liberalism of the 1950s and ’60s exalted civil liberties, individualism, and dissident thought and speech. “Question authority” was our generational rubric when I was in college. But today’s liberalism has become grotesquely mechanistic and authoritarian: It’s all about reducing individuals to a group identity, defining that group in permanent victim terms, and denying others their democratic right to challenge that group and its ideology. Political correctness represents the fossilized institutionalization of once-vital revolutionary ideas, which have become mere rote formulas. It is repressively Stalinist, dependent on a labyrinthine, parasitic bureaucracy to enforce its empty dictates... Knowledge of the great world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Judeo-Christianity, Islam—is the true multiculturalism. Everyone should have a general familiarity with the beliefs, texts, rituals, art, and shrines of all the major religions. Only via a direct encounter with the Qu’ran and Hadith, for example, can anyone know what they say about jihad and how those strikingly numerous passages have been interpreted in different ways over time... she argues among other things, that the pharmaceutical industry, having lost income when routine estrogen therapy for menopausal women was abandoned because of its health risks, has been promoting the relatively new idea of transgenderism in order to create a permanent class of customers who will need to take prescribed hormones for life... The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible. Every single cell of the human body remains coded with one’s birth gender for life. Intersex ambiguities can occur, but they are developmental anomalies that represent a tiny proportion of all human births.
On Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and said out loud what a majority of Americans concluded a long time ago — that President Donald J. Trump is a liar.
Mr. Comey did not resort to euphemisms when he accused the president of defaming him and the bureau he once led. At that moment, Mr. Trump was at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference across town, basking in applause.
“We will always support our evangelical community and defend your right and the right of all Americans to follow and to live by their teachings of their faith,”
.. It was a fascinating morning of contrasts. While Mr. Trump swore to protect American Christendom from the forces of secularism (i.e, the Democrats), Mr. Comey told a riveted audience on Capitol Hill about Mr. Trump’s attempts to extract a loyalty oath over dinner at the White House.
.. a figure of either utter mendacity or incompetence, depending on one’s ideological bias.
But across town, the righteous surrounded Mr. Trump with a cloud of hosannas and affirmation. “In my first 100 days,” Mr. Trump told the adoring audience, “I don’t think anybody has ever done more or certainly not much more [as president].”
.. Donald Trump learned a long time ago that he can get away with saying demonstrably false things to his core supporters with little fear of paying a price. As the cliche goes, his people take him seriously — not literally. He may be a liar, but he’s their liar.
.. In the universe that I come from, Christians would rather have been fed to the lions than to have been allied with a vulgarian like Donald Trump. In this simulated universe, the American faction of Christianity appears to worship a Jesus that has contempt for the poor, hates refugees and embraces militarism. Here, Jesus blesses wealth and power and those who seek it relentlessly.
.. In the universe I originally came from, evangelicals would’ve gone nuts at the sight of Donald Trump and several Arab despots meeting in Saudi Arabia a few weeks ago, putting their hands on a mystical orb in a darkened room as if sealing an Antichrist-level deal to divvy up the world.
In this universe, Christians are the opposite of the weak and sentimental fools Friedrich Nietzsche complained about. Here, Nietzsche’s “will to power” is exemplified by America’s dominant religion. The beatitudes have been turned upside down and inside out to accommodate the new American spirit — the gospel according to Donald Trump.
I think a lot of congregations have a situation where people are – there are more people talking about God in the basement during the week. The basement of their church is more full of people talking honestly about their lives and connecting that with some kind of trust in God. I think that happens more frequently in their basements than it does in their sanctuaries.
GROSS: The basements where the 12-step meetings are.
BOLZ-WEBER: That’s right, yeah, because I – I mean, you know what organization’s not really having a problem? – is AA. Like, that’s…
BOLZ-WEBER: It’s doing fine. That – they’re not in a crisis. So there aren’t meetings about how – in AA – where they’re like, how can we get people to start showing up more? And so I think that there’s something about people speaking honestly about their lives, and, sometimes, I think church is more about pretending your life’s fine. And I think less and less people have time for that.
.. Yeah, it was – you know, some churches might have a hard time welcoming, you know, junkies and drag queens. We’re fine with that. But, like, when bankers in Dockers started showing up (laughter), we’re like, wait a minute. Like, I – it threw me into a crisis ’cause I felt like, wait, you could go to any mainline Protestant church in this city and see a room full of people who look just like you. Like, why are you coming and, like, messing up our weird?
And one of the values my community has always held is this idea of welcoming the stranger. Like, a lot of times, we’ll start the liturgy by saying, blessed be God, the Word who came to his own. And his own received him not. For in this way, God glorifies the stranger.
.. So I preached to, like, 10,000 people. And when The Denver Post found out about this, they ran this big front-page story about me with this, like, terrifying picture of me. And then…
BOLZ-WEBER: And so the next Sunday, like, tons of people showed up. But the thing is is that – you know who takes the paper are, like, 60-year-olds in the suburbs. And that’s who showed up. And so we’re looking around going, what’s happened? Like, our church – our weirdness is being diluted. And I called a friend of mine, who has a church with a similar demographic in St. Paul, Minn. And I was like, dude, have you ever had normal people, like, mess up your church? And he goes, yeah, you know, you guys are really good at welcoming the stranger if it’s a young transgender kid. But, sometimes, the stranger looks like your mom and dad.
.. And he said, look, as the young transgender kid who was welcomed into this community, I want to go on record as saying, like, I’m glad there are people who look like my parents here because they love me in a way that my parents are finding difficult right now. And I was like, oh, man, meeting over.
BOLZ-WEBER: I mean, like, meeting over. Like, that was it. Like, that’s what is challenging to me about Christianity – is that exact thing – is, like, being forced to look at your own stuff and being pushed into a space of grace that’s really, really uncomfortable. And I should say that same person, Asher, was ordained. The ordination was at our church. And Asher was the first openly transgender person to be ordained by the ELCA, by my denomination. So we, like…
GROSS: That’s great.
BOLZ-WEBER: Yeah, he’s an extraordinary person. And that day was a huge celebration.
.. Well, that’s the thing – is that I just don’t think belief should be the basis of belonging to a community like this. And so I – everyone – we don’t sort of make that the central reason that somebody belongs. So we don’t even talk about belief that often in my church, strangely. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I don’t feel responsible for what people believe. I feel very responsible for what they hear as their preacher, as their pastor. So in the liturgy and in the preaching, I feel responsible for what they hear.
Now, how that’s going to work upon them in their lives is – there’s so many things that contribute to that that I have nothing to do with. So I just don’t feel a sense of responsibility.
.. I mean, I’m actually a very orthodox Lutheran theologian. And it’s a very sort of Christo-centric community. But it’s one in which, really, everyone’s welcome to come and participate.
GROSS: Are you more concerned about people’s actions than their beliefs?
BOLZ-WEBER: I’m not even really concerned about their actions, no.
GROSS: That wasn’t the answer I was expecting.
GROSS: What are you concerned about?
BOLZ-WEBER: No, that’s not true. I mean, I’m not concerned about – I don’t monitor people’s behavior. Let’s put it that way. So much of Christianity has become about, like, sort of monitoring behavior. And so far, it’s just failed to work as a strategy (laughter) – right? – for making people better. So on some level, the – Christianity became about monitoring people’s behavior, a sort of behavior – or, like, a sin-management program. And that almost always fails and often backfires.
Like, I would actually argue that conservative Christianity’s obsession with controlling sexuality – I mean, absolute obsession with it – has, in fact, created more unhealthy sexual behavior than it’s ever prevented. I really believe that. I mean, you actually don’t even see that particular level of obsession with, like, the power of sex and how dangerous – it’s like the moral bogeyman that’s hiding behind every corner and every zipper to these people, right? I mean, it’s just like they’re obsessed with it in a way you seldom see outside of say, like, 16-year-old boys.
BOLZ-WEBER: So it feels like there’s an entire culture (laughter) that has not developed past this. And we found that it doesn’t actually make people behave better.
GROSS: To sum up, your issue isn’t what people believe or whether they believe. And it’s not their actions, either. So your goal is – your job is…
BOLZ-WEBER: Is to preach the Gospel. I mean – so my job is to – is to point to Christ and to preach the Gospel and to remind people that they’re absolutely loved and that their identity is based in something other than the categories of late-stage capitalism, for instance, that they are sort of named and claimed by God and that this is an identity that is more foundational than any of the others. And all of these sort of – and that they’re, like, completely forgiven and their – all of their mess-ups are not more powerful than God’s mercy and God’s ability to sort of redeem us and to bring good out of bad.
Like, all of that – like, that message is what I just keep preaching over and over and over. And I think that there’s a particular effect. I think when people hear this over and over, they become free. And I think they actually do start making good choices for themselves and healthy choices, self-respecting choices without the church telling them what that has to look like.
.. Frank Schaeffer once said in an interview that, like, if what he wanted more than anything in the world was to be an atheist, the very first thing he’d do is pray to God to make him one.
.. And then the third thing is, really, this thing called theology of the cross, this idea that God is so present in suffering. Like, in our suffering, we feel like God’s absent. But God’s actually especially present in human suffering. And I feel like I had experienced that, as well.