Since the very beginning of the American republic the founders of the United States insisted on a short series of amendments to that nation’s constitution in order to protect critical areas of personal liberty and freedom from being infringed or stepped on by the power of their newly created federal state.
In particular, the First Amendment to the Constitution forbids the U.S. Congress to prohibit the free exercise of religion. The Constitution also forbids the establishment of an official State church, as was and continues to be the case in many European nations.
The reasons for the enactment of the First Amendment had a lot to do with the historical reasons many people hazarded their lives in the struggle to create new homes and communities in the original 13 colonies of British North America in the first place. People wanted to escape State coercion in all matters of the conscience and its peaceful expression in religious matters. They wanted to be able to live their lives without Big Brother, the State, telling them what they had to do religiously.
There was a certain tension at that stage of development in the history of Western Civilization as the Founders of the United States tried to balance what Conrad Black called “Faith” and “Reason” in his recent excellent National Post column on this subject:
The central struggle, in France [during its Revolution] and in most of the West, was over the role of the state, and more generally, over the cohabitation in Western civilization of the forces of Faith and the forces of, broadly speaking, Reason (http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/08/03/conrad-black-church-state-and-barack-obama/ accessed Aug. 3, 2012).
This balanced point of view was, for the most part, embraced by Americans and other modern democracies until the Rise of the Faith of Militant Secularism, beginning in the 1960s. Now, many zealous secularists not only want any reference to the Bible’s God removed from public sphere, including state and community institutions like schools, but they also want to coerce private businesses and religious institutions who still have a worldview informed by the Divine Narrative rather than by the new Secular Narrative of political correctness.
It is not enough now to just “live and let live” or “you do your thing while I do my thing.” Now the secularist zealots want to force the religiously minded to knuckle under, accept, and conform to their flavour-of-the-day, politically correct dogmas—especially on anything touching sex and the family.
The militant secularists are, in essence, seeking to establish a new coercive State Church of Materialism that will require everyone to bow down before their idolatrous altar of Political Correctness while they teach humanity to worship themselves as the only true gods who can decide what is good and evil.
As Conrad Black put it in his column “Church, State, and Barak Obama,”
The Enlightenment, the coruscation of the Age of Reason, implied that the whole concepts of divinity and of spirituality were, to say the least, questionable, and that each day, as the march of empirical knowledge progressed, the plenitude of knowledge was being approached. While God was a dodgy concept, man might be perfectible (man as God), and, though a heavenly paradise was a superstitious or wishful confection, an earthly paradise might be attainable by the implementation of a political program.
The religiously minded, of course, are resisting this political program in usually peaceful ways at present. This conflict is sometimes labeled, the “Culture Wars.”
Evidence to back up this assertion? In the United States consider the struggle by the U.S. Catholic church and other churches to resist the Obama administration’s mandatory health insurance policies that demand religious institutions—not withstanding their long-standing moral opposition to these types of birth control procedures and abortion-inducing drugs— to offer and pay for such “benefits” for their employees.
Or consider the secularists outrage when Chick-fil-A restaurant chain president Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press in July that the company was “guilty as charged” for backing “the biblical definition of a family.” Secular rights activists and others called for a boycott and put pressure on some municipal politicians to not approve new Chick-fil-A outlets in their cities.
What started as a strident demand by the militant secularist for “their rights” has now shifted to an unrelenting demand by them that the religiously minded submit and conform to their idolatrous assertion that they have the right to determine both good and evil and that we must all think, speak, and behave as they dictate. It is reminiscent of the old line that an erudite and cagey adversary of the God of Creation spoke to our first ancestors.
Now the snake was more able to fool others than any animal of the field, which the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say that you should not eat from any tree in the garden?” 2 Then the woman said to the snake, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden. 3 But from the tree which is in the center of the garden, God has said, ‘Do not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You shall not surely die. 5 For God knows that on the day you both eat from it, then your eyes will be opened and you both shall be like gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5; vv. 1-3 New Life Version, vv. 4-5 Lexham English Bible).
The freedom of conscience to live according to the Divine Narrative in America and the rest of the Western democracies is under attack by those who would fool us into believing that they are our gods who have the right to tell us what is right or wrong. Don’t fall for it.