Tuesday, July 20, 2004

One nation under God:: Read the whole thing. Teaser:
Anti-Americanism makes strange bedfellows. The Arab Islamists despise America because it’s all lap-dancing and gay-phone sex; Europe’s radical secularists despise America because it’s all born-again Christians hung up on abortion. They’re both right. The free market enables Hustler to thrive. And the free market in churches enables religion to thrive. In Europe, the established church, whether formal (the Church of England) or informal (as in Catholic Ireland, Italy and Spain), killed religion as surely as state ownership killed the British car industry. When the Episcopal Church degenerates into a bunch of wimpsville self-doubters, Americans go elsewhere. When the Church of England undergoes similar institutional decline, Britons give up on religion entirely.

‘When men cease to believe in God,’ said Chesterton, ‘they do not believe in nothing; they believe in anything!’ The anything most of the Western world’s non-believers believe in is government: instead of a state church, Europe believes in the state as church — the purveyor of cradle-to-grave welfare will provide daycare for your babies and take your aged parents off your hands. The people are happy to have cast off the supposed stultifying oppressiveness of religion for a world in which the state regulates every aspect of life. The French government’s recent headscarf ban — which, in the interests of an ecumenical fig-leaf, is also a ban on yarmulkes and ‘large’ crucifixes — seems the way of the future, an attempt to push all religion to the fringes of life. A couple of years back, a Canadian ‘human rights commission’, in its ruling that a Christian printer had illegally discriminated against a gay group by turning down a printing job for pro-gay literature, said he had the right to his religious beliefs in his own home but he had to check them at the door when he left for work in the morning. Who’s in the closet now?

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