July 25, 2014

Eric Metaxas: Religious Freedom is Under Threat. CPAC Speech on March 16, 2013.

Eric Metaxas


Eric Metaxas

Once the State arrogates unto itself the moral authority to create relationships not found in nature, it stakes the claim that only the State can determine what is morally licit. At that point Christian beliefs and morals oppose the State and the Christian may be seen as an enemy.

Source: ericmetaxas.com

Highlights:

Jefferson and the Founders…knew that the State was always tempted to take over everything — including the religious side of people’s lives. So they put a protection in the Constitution that the government could not favor any religion over another. . .and could not prohibit the free exercise of religion.

In my book Bonhoeffer I talk about a meeting between Bonhoeffer’s friend, the Rev. Martin Niemoller, who early on in the Third Reich was one of those fooled by Hitler.  And in that meeting he says something to Hitler about how he, Niemoller, cares about Germany and Third Reich — and Hitler cuts him off and says “I built the Third Reich. You just worry about your sermons!”

There in a few words you have the idea of Freedom of Worship.  Freedom of Worship says you can have your little strange rituals and say whatever you like in your little religious buildings for an hour or two on Sundays, but once you leave that building you will bow to the secular orthodoxy of the state!

[S]erious threats to Religious Freedom on the horizon and in 2009 he led the way in drafting the Manhattan Declaration. And please visit ManhattanDeclaration.org and sign that. Because already those distant threats are coming to pass.

First of all there is the HHS Mandate. Many people have dismissed this as something to do with contraceptives. But it has nothing to do with contraceptives and everything to do with Religious Freedom.

The second issue of Religious Freedom is the attempt to legally redefine marriage. This has been framed as an issue of expanding a supposed right to marry whomever one chooses, which it is not. It’s about Religious Freedom. . .

TEXT:

Good morning.  I’m here today because a year ago I was the speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast.  If you haven’t seen that speech, you can watch it at my website www.ericmetaxas.com.  And if you go to www.ericmetaxas.com by noon and follow me on Twitter, you get a free Wacko Birds t-shirt!

But seriously, if you watch my speech you’ll see that at the end I led the audience in singing “Amazing Grace.” I won’t do that now, but I would like to lead you in LIP-syncing the National Anthem. OK, I probably need to get serious for a moment or two.

Some of you know I wrote a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and it’s because of Bonhoeffer that I find myself thinking about the issue of Religious Freedom. Many people have said they see disturbing parallels between what was happening in Germany in the Thirties and America today on that issue. I’m very sorry to agree.

Let me begin with my hometown, Danbury, CT.  Some of you know that Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the  Danbury Baptists in 1801, in which he uses the phrase “separation of church and state” — and in case there is anyone who doesn’t know it, the sense in which Jefferson uses that phrase is actually the opposite of how it’s generally thought of today. Today we often hear that it means that the state needs to be protected from religion, and that religion should have no place in government or society.

Jefferson and the Founders thought the opposite.  They knew that the State was always tempted to take over everything — including the religious side of people’s lives. So they put a protection in the Constitution that the government could not favor any religion over another… and could not prohibit the free exercise of religion.

They wanted churches and religions to be protected from the government — from Leviathan. Why?  Because they knew that what people believed and their freedom to live out and practice one’s most deeply held beliefs was at the very heart of this radical and fragile experiment they had just launched into the world.

Okay, so where are the threats to Religious Freedom in America today? Well, for one thing, understand we are not talking about Freedom of Worship. In a speech 18 months ago, Hillary Clinton replaced the phrase Freedom of Religion with Freedom of Worship — and my hero and friend Chuck Colson noticed and was disturbed by it.  Why? Because these are radically different things. They have Freedom of Worship in China. But what exactly is Freedom of Worship?

In my book Bonhoeffer I talk about a meeting between Bonhoeffer’s friend, the Rev. Martin Niemoller, who early on in the Third Reich was one of those fooled by Hitler.  And in that meeting he says something to Hitler about how he, Niemoller, cares about Germany and Third Reich — and Hitler cuts him off and says “I built the Third Reich. You just worry about your sermons!”

There in a few words you have the idea of Freedom of Worship.  Freedom of Worship says you can have your little strange rituals and say whatever you like in your little religious buildings for an hour or two on Sundays, but once you leave that building you will bow to the secular orthodoxy of the state! We will tell you what to think on the big and important questions. Questions like when life begins and who gets to decide when to end it and what marriage is…  And if you don’t like it, tough luck! That’s Freedom of Worship and that have that in China and they had it in Germany in Bonhoeffer’s day…

But the Founding Fathers said just the opposite! They said the faith inside that church building must live on and flourish outside that building. In fact, the Founders believed the success of the American Experiment depends on it! In Os Guinness’s book — A FREE PEOPLE’S SUICIDE – he reminds us that the Founders believed Freedom of Religion was at the heart of the American Experiment.

In that book he talks about the Golden Triangle of Freedom — I’ll bet you never heard about that in school or in college. He explains that the Founders knew that Freedom and Self-Government were not possible without Virtue. Without virtue, we would simply vote to line our own pockets and elect those leaders who would line our pockets. Sound familiar? But they believed that Freedom required Virtue and Virtue in turn required Faith. It was mainly Faith that motivated citizens toward Virtue.  So Freedom required Virtue and Virtue required Faith — but Faith in turn required Freedom.  Faith requires Freedom. The whole triangle falls apart if you take away any of those three things. They support each other.  Please read A FREE PEOPLE’S SUICIDE.

Chuck Colson saw some serious threats to Religious Freedom on the horizon and in 2009 he led the way in drafting the Manhattan Declaration. And please visit ManhattanDeclaration.org and sign that. Because already those distant threats are coming to pass.

First of all there is the HHS Mandate. Many people have dismissed this as something to do with contraceptives. But it has nothing to do with contraceptives and everything to do with Religious Freedom.

It’s the issue of the government saying to a religious group that whatever you think about these issues means nothing! We are the state and we will force you to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients.  We will force you to violate your conscience and your religion — why? Because we can. We have the power and you Catholics are just a backward religious minority.

You may know that Josef Stalin in a battle with the Catholic Church once asked: “How many divisions does the Pope have?” It’s an ugly moment in American history when the current Presidential administration is taking a page out of the book of Josef Stalin .

When the government bullies a minority, instead of protecting that minority, that is the beginning of the end of America. We protect minorities here. So I, as a non-Catholic who doesn’t share that entire view on contraception, am nonetheless obliged as an American to defend those who have those views! That’s what makes us America. We protect minorities and we protect religious freedom. For all. Once we stop doing that we are no longer America.

The second issue of Religious Freedom is the attempt to legally redefine marriage. This has been framed as an issue of expanding a supposed right to marry whomever one chooses, which it is not. It’s about Religious Freedom.  So here’s my question to all the legal scholars across America…

What about the Religious Freedom of those who dissent on that issue?  Will they be forced to stifle their religious feelings on this issue because the state has demanded it? This is not a live and let live issue. If it were, that would be another story. No, if marriage is LEGALLY redefined, it will utterly cripple Religious Freedom in America and it’s already beginning to do that — and NO ONE is even talking about it. Not one of the cable networks ever discusses this.

And so what we are seeing on both these issues is the unconstitutional Establishment of a religion, aided and abetted by the state.  But it’s a secular religion and a secular orthodoxy. Indeed, it’s a secular fundamentalism — and it says on the subject of marriage there is to be no discussion. The science is settled.  It’s the future. And some in the GOP are jumping on the bandwagon. But ladies and gentlemen, whenever someone tells you the science is settled and the debate is over, that’s a sure sign that the debate is NOT OVER, but that they are deathly afraid that the debate might begin.

So they want to tell you it’s settled and let’s hurry up and get on the right side of history.  But God determines who is on the right side of history, not the mainstream media and not the government.

Most of you see the growing state, gobbling up more and more of the free market, and freedom itself. And if Religious Freedom is threatened, it is just the same.  These are the twin engines that have made this the greatest country in the history of the world.

Finally, let me say that when the government kills Freedom of Religion and faith is pushed out of the public square, it’s not just bad things that happen. It’s that many good things don’t happen.

In my book Amazing Grace I tell the story of William Wilberforce. It’s the story of what happens when a man drags religion into the public square and when he allows it to affect how government behaves.  As a result, the governmment was forced to abolish the slave trade. Don’t you think the African slaves were glad Wilberforce allowed his religion to affect his politics?

In those days the settled science was that slavery and the slave trade were just the way it was and to even discuss abolishing them was insane.  But devout Christians who believed every human being is made in the image of God forced the discussion.

The story of Bonhoeffer shows that it was many serious Christians who led the conspiracy against Hitler. The settled science was that the Third Reich was the future and any dissenting voices were simply silenced. But the voices of faith were not easily silenced.

Indeed, even Bonhoeffer, though murdered by the Nazis, speaks today. He is speaking to us — to America — and warning us not to let ourselves be silenced. He called the church to be the church and he is doing so now, to the American church. Stand up for what is right, knowing that the whole country will be blessed.

But what about America?  When has faith entered the public square in this country? Did you know that it was serious Christians who started the abolitionist movement in this country?  Yes! Just watch Steven Spielberg’s movie Amistad.

Did you know that devout Christians led the Civil Rights movement in this country? Some would have you think it was secular liberals who led it, but it was a church-based faith-based movement from beginning to end.  Did you know that Rosa Parks was a devout Christian? That she was chosen to kickoff the bus boycott because of her faith?

Did you know that Jackie Robinson was a serious Christian? And that Branch Rickey who picked him to be the one to break the color barrier in baseball did so because of Robinson’s faith, and that Rickey was himself a bible-thumping Christian who did what he did in part because he believe God wanted him to do it? There’s a movie coming out about Jackie Robinson this month and I’ll bet they don’t even mention that. I do mention it in my next book Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, because everyone should know that it was Jackie Robinson’s faith that was behind what he did.

If you push the voices of faith out of the mainstream and replace them with a secular orthodoxy, you take away the most important check the Founders put in place against unbridled statism.

My friends… here’s the story.  We’ve had so much religious Freedom in this country that we are hardly aware of what it is and we hardly recognize when it is being threatened. So let me be one voice warning my fellow Americans that unless we take this seriously, it will soon be too late and we WON’T be able to do anything about it. Please take this seriously.  Please read Os Guinness’ book A FREE PEOPLE SUICIDE and please visit ManhattanDeclaration.org and fight for your country.  This — my fellow Americans — is about America.

God bless you and God bless America!

Comments

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    I have read this several times and, while I cannot question the sincerity of the author, I am, like so many times previously on this site, ambivalent as to its significance. As we begin Great Lent, how do the concerns of this author make sense within the context of the “Last Things” and the “Eschaton?” How am I to understand and relate to his concerns – and ultimately his “resolutions” – when we are “in the world, ” but not “of the world?” I spent several hours this morning reading Fr. Florovsky and it is poignant that, while this author promotes a “system,” a convergence & return to the way of the “Founders” to transcend and sufficiently deliver justice, parity, and morality, Fr. Florovsky – with an almost perceptible sigh – notes that every attempt “from Byzantium forward has been the wrong key and an abysmal failure,” only to be resolved in the Eschaton! At the same time, I could reasonably argue that the Orthodox should maintain a strong skepticism and healthy fear for the likes of Colson, Dobbs, and the “scientists” who would “diagnose” Terri Schiavo from video tape and have the power to summon the President and Congress in the middle of the night to legislate “morality” and shamelessly manipulate the courts. These are the heterodox, not our “cohort” or allies, and the Canons & Tradition forbid us from aligning with the heretics for virtuous reasons.

    I believe the point I am making is that Great Lent, on the one hand is a “school of repentance,” and what is so frequently overlooked, a vision of the days to come. And so the ambivalence: part of me wishes to say to the author, certainly we are “under siege,” and we must be diligent in defending our rights to non-interference by the government – and this necessarily includes those agents, however tacitly, supported by the government; and another part of me wishes to direct the author to the inevitability of the days ahead: “I have trodden the wine press alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in my anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled on my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.” (Isa. 63:3) What brings the Eschaton is not the signing of declarations and theoretical establishment of social “order” and reforms, but, as we will hear in the Holy Week of His Passion, “The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” (Lk. 12:53) We have a different mind – the “foolishness” of the Cross – that they cannot seem to grasp, and for this reason I believe they are dangerous to us.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      So the forced forced dehydration of Terri Schiavo was morally justified?

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        Abouna, you have become as predictable as the morning traffic… I said to myself, “Must I qualify this statement, or out of everything I’ve said, will he focus on this point?” There you have it. The analogy was about who is holding the reins, who defines “oppression,” and who defines “freedom.” That politicians could align with religious “leaders” to manipulate the executive branch of government and the courts, turning a single family’s tragedy into a cause célèbre is gross, frightening, and unprecedented. These people are not our allies, our confidants, or our “friends” (cf. Jn. 15:15). They are the heterodox and the Church is firm and clear in questioning, “What has light to do with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14) I am the first to accept responsibility for not being an image of the glory of the Faith in my person and in my life – of making the Faith “attractive” and irresistible, but that is hardly an excuse. I do not need to sign the Manhattan Declaration or read Bonhoffer (though I did) to add to the simple message of St. Chrysostom: “For forty years the Jews wandered lost in the desert. But fear not. For no longer are you lead led by Moses, but by Jesus Christ.” I ask you, Abouna, how much freer can a man become?

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Yes, you must qualify this statement. Terri Schiavo is dead. Where were you on the question when it was being fought? Speculating about Chrysostom?

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            First, and most importantly, recall the topic at hand: religious freedom from interference by the state, and I added the addendum, “and by those even tacitly supported or sponsored by the government.” My contention is that three branches of government were inappropriately manipulated specifically because of this tacit relationship, and the prevailing laws were deemed “insufficient” in the case of one family and one specific woman. So insufficient, in fact, that the President of the United States had to transport himself cross-country in the middle of the night to sign hastily “crafted legislation” that applied to this one family and this single woman as a “stopgap.” And the basis for this “moral directive?” A moron of a “physician” wiling to examine a video and render a “competency” finding. At my medical school, we were alternately humoured & angered at the foolishness of such a move. And in the end, as everyone knew it would, it came down to two lawyers pleading before a Federal District Judge, who had no alternative but to role pursuant to the prevailing law. And SCOTUS? Absolutely no reason to intervene. After I read Frank Rich’s commentary in the Sunday NY Times, I sent him an email telling to buy the poor judge a Starbucks card on GP, and he actually replied, saying while he laughed at my suggestion, the idea that it all came down to “begging the Court to set morality” was something to be pitied. So, I ask you, Abouna, in the context of our religious freedom, who should I fear more? Terri Schiavo is dead, as best we know, pursuant to her wishes and pursuant to the prevailing law. We do have the right and the means to change the law.

            I suggest you avoid using the names of the Saints in your sarcasm.

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              Nope. You don’t know the facts. It happened in Pinellas County, Florida, about three hours or so from where I live. I watched this very closely and wrote about it at the time (see: The Martyrdom of Terri Schiavo).

              The unborn, infirm, and poor are always the first victims of utilitarian ideologues. Learn your history. Start with Buck vs. Bell.

              Don’t provide theological cover for the unjustifiable. Or, if you insist on doing so, leave the term “Orthodox” and all references to the Fathers out of it.

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                Geo Michalopulos says:

                The murder of Terri Schiavo is a foretaste of things to come.

                BTW, do you remember how the MSM said that her husband was her “husband,” yet at the same time he had a “common law wife”? How is that possible? Have they repealed the laws against bigamy?

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                  Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                  I wondered how Michael Schiavo and his lawyer celebrated their great legal victory that forced the dehydration of Terri Schiavo. A steak dinner perhaps? A bottle or two of wine?

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              Don’t play me for a fool. You are as phony a neurologist as you are a geneticist/psychiatrist. The question you posed was not the morality of the situation, but the freedom of the practice of religion and the intrusion of the government. That’s how I answered you. You are obviously much more interested in attempting to set “traps” of misrepresentation than to speak to the issue at hand: who is more dangerous? Bonhoffer was absolutely sure as to the identity of the enemy. And so am I. You fill your site with the ramblings of the heterodox and the heretics who suggest that a return to the “way of the Founders” will brings us justice, morality, parity, prosperity and peace. While the Patristic Fathers deplore and outright forbid this foolishness, likening it to playing with fire, and unanimously forbid us from “eating of their delicacies.” (Ps. 140:4) I believe you can trust me on this: Colson, Dobson, Metaxas, and the rest may be fine people – and so are we all – but “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Lk. 12:34) Set this crap down and pick up the Philokalia for a change.

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                Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                You said this:

                At the same time, I could reasonably argue that the Orthodox should maintain a strong skepticism and healthy fear for the likes of Colson, Dobbs, and the “scientists” who would “diagnose” Terri Schiavo from video tape and have the power to summon the President and Congress in the middle of the night to legislate “morality” and shamelessly manipulate the courts.

                That’s a political statement that both mischaracterizes the events surrounding Schiavo’s forced dehydration and implies her death was justified.

                You were asked the question: Do you believe Terri Schiavo’s death was justified? You refused to answer.

                Do not use theology to defend the indefensible. Do not use the term “Orthodox” or quote the Fathers until you educate yourself about the circumstances surrounding her forced dehydration.

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                That an Orthodox Christian priest, anointed by God Himself and set upon by the Holy Spirit which “always heals that which is infirm, and completes that which is wanting through the laying on of hands” feels it necessary to align himself with the heterodox and the heretics is unbearable to me. You are becoming a scandal in my mind. I am well aware that the Antiochian tradition in this country is to obliterate the ordo of Lent and Holy Week – I’ve celebrated it many times with them – but it behooves you to seek it out. Humble yourself and be schooled.

                And nothing would please me more than to debate you before real physicians & and real Orthodox theologians – not your little cub scout troop of the heterodox & the heretical, the Colsons, Dobbs, Drehers, Metaxas, and the like. You would attempt, in error, to “dig a hole and shovel it out, and fall into it [yourself].” (Ps. 7:15)

                All of my thought & speculation is filtered through the Fathers. As Fr. Alexander Schmemann told the story of first visit to the Egyptian monastery residence of Pope Shenuda, of blessed memory, he asked the Prelate as to the “significance of theology.” In a manner Fr. Alexander described as “initially frustrating” as the Patriarch seemed to take an inordinate amount of time answering any question, he finally paused from eating his soup to say, “Fr. Alexander, “I believe we need theology to even eat our soup.” There is a lesson for you, Abouna: take the spoon out of your ear and and put it in your mouth. You have much to learn.

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                  Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

                  Are we to conclude that you approve of the forced dehydration of Terri Schiavo? It’s the question you refuse to answer but the one by which you judge others as “heterodox” or not “real” and other appellations. No amount of (incessant) scoldings can hide it.

                  Do you believe that the Fathers, if they were alive today, would approve of the state-sanctioned killing of the infirm? Really? Have you ever read what they say about abortion?

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                    It just so happens that this very Sunday, Abouna, as we gather together to celebrate Orthodoxy, you are welcome to the clearest, most fundamental and incessant scolding you could ever receive (or should receive – liturgical practice being what it is, I thought I’d help you out!) as you stand there with the other clergy holding the sacred images in your hands:

                    To those who scorn the venerable and holy Ecumenical Councils, and who despise even more their dogmatic and canonical traditions; and to those who say that all things were not perfectly defined and delivered by the councils, but that they left the greater part mysterious, unclear, and untaught, ANATHEMA.

                    To those who hold in contempt the sacred and divine canons of our blessed fathers, which, by sustaining the Holy Church of God and adorning the whole Christian Church, guide to divine reverence, ANATHEMA.

                    To all things innovated and enacted contrary to the Church tradition, teaching, and institution of the holy and ever-memorable fathers, or to anything hence-forth so enacted, ANATHEMA.

                    To those who accept the visions of the prophets, albeit unwillingly, and who do not – O wonder! – accept the images seen by the prophets even before the incarnation of the Word, but who babble that the intangible and invisible essence was seen by the prophets, and who, even when they concede that images and types and forms were truly revealed to the prophets, still cannot endure to depict in icons the Word become man and His sufferings for our sake, ANATHEMA.

                    To those who hear the Lord’s words: “Had you believed Moses, you would have believed Me” and so forth, and who understand Moses when he says, “The Lord our God will raise up to you a prophet of your brethren, like me,” and who then say that they accept the Prophet, yet they do not permit the grace and universal salvation of the Prophet to be depicted in icons, how He was seen, how He lived with mankind, how He worked healings of incurable passions and diseases, how He was crucified, was buried, and arose, in short, all that He both suffered and wrought for us; to those, therefore, who cannot endure to gaze upon these universal and saving deeds in icons, neither honor nor worship them, ANATHEMA.

                    To those who persist in the heresy of denying icons, or rather the apostasy of denying Christ, and who are not counseled by the Mosaic law to be led to their salvation, nor convinced to return to piety by the apostolic teachings, nor induced by patristic exhortations and explanations to abandon their deception, nor persuaded by the agreement of the Churches of God throughout the whole world, but who have once and for all joined themselves to the portion of the Jews and Greeks: for the blasphemies cast by the Jews and Greeks at the prototype, have been shamelessly used by the former to insult through His icon Him that is depicted therein; therefore, to those who are incorrigibly possessed by this deception and have their ears covered towards every divine word and spiritual teaching, since they are already putrefied members, having cut themselves off from the common body of the Church, ANATHEMA.

                    To those who do not confess that the Word and Son of God was begotten without change from the Father before the ages, and that in these latter times, out of His abundant loving kindness, He was incarnate of the immaculate Theotokos Mary and became man for our salvation, taking upon Himself all that pertains to us save sin; and to those who do not partake of His holy and immortal Mysteries with fear, since they consider them to be mere bread and common wine rather than the very flesh of the Master and His holy and precious blood shed for the life of the world; to such men be, ANATHEMA.

                    To those who do not worship the Cross of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ as the salvation and glory of the whole world, as that which annulled and utterly destroyed the machinations and weapons of the enemy and redeemed creation from the idols and manifested victory to the world, but who consider the Cross to be a tyrannical weapon; to such men be, ANATHEMA.

                    To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so‑called “branches” which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all “branches” or sects or denominations, and even religions will be united into one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and Eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore, to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or who advocate, disseminate, or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, ANATHEMA.

                    Now, I’ve read this over several times for accuracy, and I don’t seem to find the matter of Ms. Schiavo as a criterion for the heresy of anyone. You? And then, as if these life-affirming “appellations” were not marvelous enough, the rubric calls for the Bishop “to exclaim in a loud voice: “Who is so great a god as our God? You are the God Who works wonders!” (Ps. 76:14-15) As I noted to Mr. Bauman below, many hear the word of the Lord – they speak warmly & kindly “about us” – but they do not obey it.” (Lk. 11:28) They are the heterodox and anathema with no help or judgment from me.

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    James Bradshaw says:

    Such historical revisionism cannot go without comment. By insisting that the abolitionists and civil rights leaders were Christians, Metaxas seems to imply that we should reasonably conclude that the slave trade was supported and led by huge numbers of secular humanists that apparently populated most of the Antebellum South. This would be quite an interesting assertion since we are always reminded that we should yearn for the halcyon days of early American history when everyone was a Christian and knew their Bibles.

    Richard Furman of the Southern Baptist Convention wrote a lengthy treatise on slavery in which he acknowledges:

    “Had the holding of slaves been a moral evil, it cannot be supposed, that the inspired Apostles, who feared not the faces of men, and were ready to lay down their lives in the cause of their God, would have tolerated it, for a moment, in the Christian Church. If they had done so on a principle of accommodation, in cases where the masters remained heathen, to avoid offences and civil commotion; yet, surely, where both master and servant were Christian, as in the case before us, they would have enforced the law of Christ, and required, that the master should liberate his slave in the first instance. But, instead of this, they let the relationship remain untouched, as being lawful and right, and insist on the relative duties.”

    In any rate, Metaxas insists that redefining marriage will lead to a huge negative impact on religious liberty in a manner that doesn’t exist already, yet he doesn’t say how.

    Suppose a man brings a woman to a church and says “I divorced my wife to marry this woman whom was my mistress for the last two years. Now I want to marry her even though my kids and former wife are heartbroken by the dissolution of our marriage.” Would any pro-family pastor bless this union? I’d like to think not. Nevertheless, such a union may indeed receive the state’s blessing via a civil marriage. So I must ask, what rights does a religious person or organization have in objecting to this union, if any (assuming they know the details of the couple)? Can a county clerk deny them a marriage license after they were legally divorced? Can a small business owner deny the pseudo-spouse medical benefits?

    I’m thinking that all of the legalities all the same whether one is talking about a same-sex legal marriage or a “sham” heterosexual marriage (however one’s religious tradition defines that). However, I recall not a single claim ever in our entire nation over an imposition on anyone over the apparently loose definition of heterosexual marriage that the State allows. Why do you suppose that is? Does no one care about heterosexual marriage sufficiently to raise a fuss, or is it because nothing’s actually being imposed unjustly?

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Abolition was an exclusively Christian enterprise at first. In fact, abolition started in the Methodist churches that grew out of the Second Great Awakening in England and then jumped to ocean into America. Only later when the consciences of the larger population were awakened did it spread out from its Christian beginnings. The Civil Rights movement one hundred years later followed the same track.

      The state is not in the business of “blessing” marriages. The state codifies natural marriage (monogamous heterosexual) for the stability of families — inheritance law, tax breaks, and so forth. Only the Church blesses marriage, but the sacramental grace conferred through ecclesiastical marriage is always an extension of the natural.

      A “sham” heterosexual marriage does not remove the moral prohibition against homosexual behavior and it certainly does not naturalize the unnatural. Homosexual marriage is unnatural because it defies nature. Same-sex couplings are naturally sterile (not the same thing as infertile) and any same-sex marriage is solely a creation of the State in contradiction to nature. The State codification of heterosexual marriage does not violate nature. Secondly, heterosexual marriage preceded the rise of the State.

      Once the State arrogates unto itself a moral authority to create relationships not found in nature, it stakes the claim that only the State can determine what is morally licit. At that point Christian beliefs and morals oppose the State and the Christian may be seen as an enemy. The movement for moral parity of homosexual relations, particularly the efforts to replicate heterosexual norms, will lay the legal ground for the persecution of Christianity. Metaxas is correct.

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        James Bradshaw says:

        “Homosexual marriage is unnatural because it defies nature. ”

        So? Natural law always sounds like pantheism to me. Besides, nature itself provides no indications of a moral order: creatures devour each other to survive. The earth itself swallows up people in sinkholes and earthquakes. It drowns them in tsunamis and floods, and it does this without regard to the faith or moral character of its victims. Perhaps nature should be defied.

        “Once the State arrogates unto itself a moral authority to create relationships not found in nature”

        The state doesn’t create relationships. It merely recognizes the relationships that people value for one reason or another. It does this in a myriad of ways outside of legal marriage: wills, powers-of-attorney, etc. You can will your estate to family or to a charity whose members are complete strangers. I’m not really quite sure what you even mean by this. Are you suggesting that all legal contracts must abide by some religious test?

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          James, it shouldn’t be that hard to comprehend. Two boys or two girls don’t make babies. Pretending that two boys or two girls are a mommy and daddy doesn’t make Adam and Steve a mom or dad. Things just don’t work that way.

          If you want to pretend it does and thereby ignore nature and history, well, there is not much to discuss. We have, however, entered into cultural self-immolation.

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          Geo Michalopulos says:

          Pshaw! Natural Law comes from God Himself. If you want to believe that God=Nature, that’s your right. Regardless, that which is unnatural can never survive. You don’t have to be a theist to know that.

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    macedoniandeacon says:

    The Austrian philosopher and economist Friedrich Hayek, pointed out that liberty can only survive in a society so long as two basic institutions are respected: private property and the family. Hayek fled his native Vienna in 1931 because he saw Socialism – under the flags of both Communism and Nazism – gradually taking over central Europe. Hayek went to England. His tutor, Ludwig von Mises, left for America in 1934. Mises had pointed out, in the early 1920s (in his book Socialism) that Socialism demands promiscuity in sexual life because it consciously neglects the contractual idea: “Free love is the socialist’s radical solution for sexual problems […] The family disappears and society is confronted with separate individuals only. Choice in love becomes completely free. Men and women unite and separate just as their desires urge.”

    And so on, and so forth. Freedom doesn’t work without the idea that sacredness exists in society. Being sacred requires a Moral Order.

    Soon enough one realizes that when sacredness and order are removed from society – and “anything/everything” becomes god, we become slaves to “it.” Whatever “it” is…

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      When people refuse to order the interior life, they will build exterior structures to impose on themselves and others. Thus, the “it” in this stage of Western history is invariably some kind of tyranny. All it takes is a cultural shock strong enough to justify the loss of freedom and to cower under the threat of retribution.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Mr. Stankovich. If I take your statement that we are not to work with heretics on anything as normative I have to ask, how can we then admit the psychological theories of folks who are atheists and systems of thought created by confirmed atheists who, often publicly, hope for the destruction of faith.

    Once again I find what seems to me a tendency to illogical shifts in your premises to suit you if you disagree with someone.

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    Mr. Bauman,

    I believe that anyone is capable – in fact created – with the capacity to discover truth. This would include believers and non-believers alike. In this sense, humanity has richly benefited from historical discoveries and insights regarding the natural world from the most egregious and despicable of characters – including prominent churchmen and scientists. As to how your point might apply to the Church’s specific forbidding of collegiality, prayer and serving with the heterodox & heretics/schismatics is unclear to me. It seems to me that this directive is summarized by the Lord Himself: “He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Lk. 11:28)

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    cyntha curran says:

    Father Jacobse I read recently of a protestant German family that left Germany since they are unable to home school there and are government is forcing them to return and they are legal of course since they were under a refugee vista.

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    Andrew says:

    Isn’t it tragic that despire all his awards, books, and accomplishments that Eric Metaxas is completely ignored by 79th and the Greek Establishment. Here is a man who has done more in the past 5 years than all the wizards of smart at 79th Street combined and yet all these efforts are not acknowledged.

    It really does show the spiritual poverty of the GOA and the Greek Establishment. How sad that it is not just enough to be Greek but you have to be “the right kind of Greek”.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      I talked to Metaxas last year. He grew up Greek Orthodox but the emphasis within the parishes of his youth was ethnicity with little regard for the faith, at least the measure that allows for transformative encounter with the Risen Christ. He found that measure of faith elsewhere and his faith is authentic and real. He knows the inherent (but often latent) strength within the Orthodox faith (he is not hostile to Orthodoxy at all and even attends on Divine Liturgy on occasion) but decided to leave the lukewarm and secularized behind.

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    Jim Holman says:

    Well, this is an interesting thread, going all the way from same-sex marriage to Terri Schiavo.

    James writes: ” . . . Metaxas insists that redefining marriage will lead to a huge negative impact on religious liberty in a manner that doesn’t exist already, yet he doesn’t say how.”

    It is a threat to religious liberty in this way: the supporters of same-sex marriage frame the issue such that opposition to SSM is perceived as not merely wrong, but as a manifestation of irrational hatred and bigotry. One author puts it this way:

    “As the conjugal view [the man/woman view of marriage] comes to be seen as irrational, people’s freedom to express and live by it will be curbed. Thus, for example, several states have forced Catholic Charities to give up its adoption services or place children with same-sex partners, against Catholic principles. Some conjugal marriage supporters have been fired for publicizing their views. If civil marriage is redefined, believing what virtually every human society once believed about marriage—that it is a male-female union—will be seen increasingly as a malicious prejudice, to be driven to the margins of culture.” [Girgis, Sherif; Anderson, Ryan T; George, Robert P (2012-11-27). What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense (Kindle Locations 188-192). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.]

    In other words, religious (and even non-religious) people who adhere to the idea that marriage can only be between a man and a woman will be judged to be first cousins to the racists of a few decades ago. The conjugal view of marriage will be seen as equivalent to racism. Anyone expressing that view will be demonized. Furthermore, there will be calls to revoke the tax-exempt status of any church whose clergy refuse to officiate at same-sex marriages or whose teachings support the conjugal view of marriage.

    These are not things that will happen in some far-off future. They are happening right now. Go to any web site that is largely populated by people on the political left and you will see supporters of man-woman marriage discussed in the most vile terms. As that view permeates throughout the larger society the demonization of the supporters of man-woman marriage will become the norm, and intolerance for their views will be socially acceptable.

    Fr. Hans writes: “So the forced dehydration of Terri Schiavo was morally justified?”

    I remember our discussions of this issue a few years ago. Without writing a book-length response, I’ll just say this: The decision to withdraw or forego a medical intervention is a decision for the patient to make. In the event that the patient cannot speak for himself, it is up to the patient’s representative to express what the patient’s wishes would be as near as can be determined, were the patient able to speak for himself. The key here is what the PATIENT wants — not the patient’s family or friends. Not the patient’s minister or priest. Not the governor of the state in which the patient resides.

    The purpose of the legal process in the Schiavo case was to determine what those wishes would have been. And upon a consideration of all the evidence the judge — himself a conservative Christian — determined that Terri Schiavo would have wanted the medical intervention of artificial nutrition and hydration to be discontinued. The judge found the evidence for discontinuation to be “clear and convincing” — the highest standard of evidence in civil cases.

    It is clear from your language (“forced dehydration”) that you disagreed with that decision. Thus the burden of proof is on you to explain why you disagree with it. You can’t just say “I don’t like the outcome.” There are several options:

    1) Discontinuing artificial nutrition and hydration was Terri’s wish, and you disagree with her wish, believing it to be immoral. Of course, what you believe about her wish is irrelevant, since it was her decision to make and not yours — unless you want to argue that people shouldn’t be able to make such decisions for themselves, in which case the burden is on you to make that argument.

    2) The judge “got it wrong” — Terri really wouldn’t have wanted the medical intervention of artificial nutrition and hydration discontinued. In this case the burden is on you to explain why the judge got it wrong.

    3) The process for making such decisions is defective, in which case the burden is on you to explain what the process should be, keeping in mind that whatever process you recommend would apply to ALL such cases, not just to the Schiavo case.

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      James Bradshaw says:

      Jim Holman writes: “The supporters of same-sex marriage frame the issue such that opposition to SSM is perceived as not merely wrong, but as a manifestation of irrational hatred and bigotry. ”

      Some of it is. Consider some of the comments at MSNBC:
      “Steve-452464
      “If your a frickin gay you won’t have to worry about anything in 40 years you sick maggot cuz, you’ll all be dead from aids.”

      Charming. I’ve been on the receiving end of it more times than I can count. It wears on you after a while.

      Of course, people can object to a certain behavior and not be irrational, hateful bigots. That doesn’t mean that they won’t be called names. So what? People will say what they like, and it’s not always kind. Go to any news blog. The discussion could be about the weather, and you’ll find some disgusting language and accusations. What’s your point? How does someone calling you names threaten your freedom?

      The question is whether there will be legal ramifications to having certain views. As far as I can see, there won’t be. Westboro Baptist, perhaps the most virulently anti-gay group in the nation, won a recent Supreme Court case which allows them to continue preaching the Bad News of God’s eternal hatred at a military funeral near you.

      “Furthermore, there will be calls to revoke the tax-exempt status of any church whose clergy refuse to officiate at same-sex marriages”

      Seriously? This is about as bizarre an assertion as one can make. No pastor has ever been forced to perform an interfaith marriage or a heterosexual remarriage or even an interracial marriage. Why would this change? I don’t care what they do in Canada or Norway. Their constitution is not ours.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        James, ever read what gays say about “breeders?” Insults come from both directions.

        As for pastors being forced to perform same-sex marriages or, more likely, fined for refusing to perform them is not bizarre at all. If homosexuality is codified as a civil right (interfaith or interracial marriage never were), they will be penalties attached for non-compliance. That why the signers of the Manhattan Declaration state that if homosexual marriage were codified into law, they would be forced into civil disobedience.

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    James Bradshaw says:

    Jim Holman writes: “Discontinuing artificial nutrition and hydration was Terri’s wish”

    According to my understanding, they were only able to ascertain Terri’s wishes from her husband, Michael Schiavo (as opposed to a living will or some sort of medical directive directly from her), and it was his motives that were suspect. I’m willing to be corrected if my facts are wrong.

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    Jim Holman says:

    James writes: “According to my understanding, they were only able to ascertain Terri’s wishes from her husband, Michael Schiavo (as opposed to a living will or some sort of medical directive directly from her), and it was his motives that were suspect.”

    That’s correct. It has been a long time since I studied the case but I believe there was also testimony from other family members. There was also evidence from the medical record and her physicians. But yes, the primary source of information was Michael Schiavo, and his motives were questioned.

    But Michael Schiavo was in effect “exonerated” in the 2003 report by Jay Wolfson, the guardian at litem appointed by governor Bush. (“Exonerated” is not the right term because he wasn’t charged with a crime, but hopefully you get my meaning.) For example, it was alleged that Michael Schiavo had misused the money awarded in a malpractice lawsuit that was supposed to be used for Terri’s care. Wolfson wrote: “This fund was meticulously managed and accounted for and Michael Schiavo had no control over its use. There is no evidence in the record of the trust administration documents of any mismanagement of Theresa’s estate, and the records on this matter are excellently maintained.” [Report, p. 9] Wolfson also noted that Michael had been “very aggressive and attentive in his care of Theresa. His demanding concern for her well-being and meticulous care by the nursing home earned him the characterization by the nursing home administrator as “a nursing home administrator’s nightmare.” [Report, p. 10]

    James: “This [revoking the tax exempt status of churches] is about as bizarre an assertion as one can make. No pastor has ever been forced to perform an interfaith marriage or a heterosexual remarriage or even an interracial marriage. Why would this change? I don’t care what they do in Canada or Norway. Their constitution is not ours.”

    This has ALREADY happened in the United States, albeit with a different issue, as a result of the Supreme Court decision in Bob Jones University v. United States. The University did not allow interracial dating on the grounds that it was forbidden by the Bible. Students who dated outside of their own race could be expelled, in addition to students who advocated interracial dating or who belonged to a group advocating interracial dating.

    Because of the University’s policy on interracial dating the IRS revoked the group’s tax-exempt status. To make a long story short, the Court held that “The institution’s purpose must not be so at odds with the common community conscience as to undermine any public benefit that might otherwise be conferred [by the exemption].” It doesn’t take a very great leap of imagination to conclude that, if the government can revoke a tax exemption because of one theological belief that it perceives as being “at odds with the common community conscience,” it can also revoke a tax exemption because of another theological belief — especially since civil rights for sexual minorities are often seen as equivalent to civil rights for racial minorities.

    True, the IRS has not yet revoked the tax-exempt status of a church based on the issue of same-sex marriage. But with those on the political left increasingly in control of what counts as the “community conscience” on this issue, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen. I think it’s a reasonable concern, and not at all “bizarre.”

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      James Bradshaw says:

      Although I was aware of BJU’s policies on interracial dating, I was not aware that they had lost their tax-exempt status due to their discriminatory policies (although it’s not clear to me whether the lost it due to the policy on interracial dating or due to simply barring blacks from joining at all).

      If what you say is true, could not a Christian university also lose their tax-exempt status for discriminating based on religion? For example: a Christian university denying admissions to Mormons or Jews (either as faculty or students)? I would think, if the laws are consistent, they could.

      If that is the case, the question is not really just about gay marriage, per se, but about what policies a private institution can maintain while remaining tax-exempt.

      Beyond filing status, does practicing religious or racial discrimination open private institutions to lawsuits?

      I don’t believe religious liberties are absolute, but the question is where that line is drawn. I’m not sure I have an answer to that yet.

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        Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

        The ruling is clear (see: Bob Jones University v. United States (No. 81-3) No. 81-1, 644 F.2d 879, and No. 81-3, 639 F.2d 147, affirmed):

        (a) An examination of the IRC’s framework and the background of congressional purposes reveals unmistakable evidence that, underlying all relevant parts of the IRC, is the intent that entitlement to tax exemption depends on meeting certain common law standards of charity — namely, that an institution seeking tax-exempt status must serve a public purpose and not be contrary to established public policy. Thus, to warrant exemption under § 501(c)(3), an institution must fall within a category specified in that section, and must demonstrably serve and be in harmony with the public interest, and the institution’s purpose must not be so at odds with the common community conscience as to undermine any public benefit that might otherwise be conferred. Pp. 585-592.

        (b) The IRS’s 1970 interpretation of § 501(c)(3) was correct. It would be wholly incompatible with the concepts underlying tax exemption to grant tax-exempt status to racially discriminatory private educational entities. Whatever may be the rationale for such private schools’ policies, racial discrimination in education is contrary to public policy. Racially discriminatory educational institutions cannot be viewed as conferring a public benefit within the above “charitable” concept or within the congressional intent underlying § 501(c)(3). Pp. 592-596.

        (c) The IRS did not exceed its authority when it announced its interpretation of § 501(c)(3) in 1970 and 1971. Such interpretation is wholly consistent with what Congress, the Executive, and the courts had previously declared. And the actions of Congress since 1970 leave no doubt that the IRS reached the correct conclusion in exercising its authority. Pp. 596-62.

        (d) The Government’s fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on petitioners’ exercise of their religious beliefs. Petitioners’ asserted interests cannot be accommodated with that compelling governmental interest, and no less restrictive means are available to achieve the governmental interest. Pp. 602-604.

        Presumably, if opposition to homosexual marriage is construed as being “contrary to established public policy,” tax-exempt provisions could be at risk.

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          James Bradshaw says:

          I have always agreed that we need to consider the rights of people to not be compelled to act in a manner that violates their consciences and/or religious beliefs. Elements of the new Affordable Health Care Act are a concern, especially when it comes to abortion.

          At the same time, I doubt you’re arguing that, in the case of BJU, interracial marriage should have remained illegal merely to ensure the religious liberties of those who might oppose it. This doesn’t seem either just or practical since just about everything is opposed by someone on principled grounds for one reason or another.

          No. It seems obvious to me that the answer is to revise the 501c3 laws given the vague guidelines of what constitutes the “public interest” and the lack of a governing authority to even assess what that is.

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            Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

            Well, there’s the rub, isn’t it? If homosexual marriage is construed as a “public interest,” then federal overreach will settle that question for everyone.

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          In our collective wisdom of attempting to manipulate and “load” the court with “our wo/man,” to vote in our favor – and we now have a history of justices themselves who refuse to retire, simply to prevent a sitting president of an “opposing” party the opportunity to appoint a replacement – our societal moral direction more frequently comes down to the swing vote of one living, breathing human being. And you believe we should worry about federal overreach? We created & fashioned it. The SCOTUS has accepted two cases from California regarding gay marriage, and what is the likelihood that both will be found unconstitutional? And if not this session, the next session. It is inevitable.

          I was about to write, “I hate repeating myself…” but in this case I most certainly do not: we turn full circle to face the reality that we are in this world, but not of this world. The school of Great Lent seems quite dedicated to forcing us beyond what are ultimately concerns of the world: “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) And as we will sing in the Kontakion of the Glorious Feast of the Ascension of our Lord, “I am with you and no one can be against you.”

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            Yesterday’s oral arguments before the SCOTUS on the California’s voter-approved gay marriage ban, known as Proposition 8 can be listened to or read here from NPR.

            Today’s oral arguments before the SCOTUS on the DOMA can be listened to or read here from NPR.

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    cyntha curran says:

    I talked to Metaxas last year. He grew up Greek Orthodox but the emphasis within the parishes of his youth was ethnicity with little regard for the faith, at least the measure that allows for transformative encounter with the Risen Christ. He found that measure of faith elsewhere and his faith is authentic and real. He knows the inherent (but often latent) strength within the Orthodox faith (he is not hostile to Orthodoxy at all and even attends on Divine Liturgy on occasion) but decided to leave the lukewarm and secularized behind. I didn’t know this I knew he was involved with evangelical OS Guinness who once was a friend of Frank Scaeffer. I mean OS Guinness.

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    cyntha curran says:

    The Austrian philosopher and economist Friedrich Hayek, pointed out that liberty can only survive in a society so long as two basic institutions are respected: private property and the family. Hayek fled his native Vienna in 1931 because he saw Socialism – under the flags of both Communism and Nazism – gradually taking over central Europe. Hayek went to England. His tutor, Ludwig von Mises, left for America in 1934. Mises had pointed out, in the early 1920s (in his book Socialism) that Socialism demands promiscuity in sexual life because it consciously neglects the contractual idea: “Free love is the socialist’s radical solution for sexual problems […] The family disappears and society is confronted with separate individuals only. Choice in love becomes completely free. Men and women unite and separate just as their desires urge True, one reason why Hispanics and Blacks voted more than whites for Democratics, though they are many Democratics that do have intact families but if you have children out of wedlock then you are more likely to support the Politicical Party that gives you welfare. Also, Latin American countries have a higher number of common law marriages which may delay economic development, fathers don’t always feel as likely to support their offspring as much as in a tradional married.

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    cyntha curran says:

    Abouna, you have become as predictable as the morning traffic… I said to myself, “Must I qualify this statement, or out of everything I’ve said, will he focus on this point?” There you have it. The analogy was about who is holding the reins, who defines “oppression,” and who defines “freedom.” That politicians could align with religious “leaders” to manipulate the executive branch of government and the courts, turning a single family’s tragedy into a cause célèbre is gross, frightening, and unprecedented. These people are not our allies, our confidants, or our “friends” (cf. Jn. 15:15). They are the heterodox and the Church is firm and clear in questioning, “What has light to do with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14) I am the first to accept responsibility for not being an image of the glory of the Faith in my person and in my life – of making the Faith “attractive” and irresistible, but that is hardly an excuse. I do not need to sign the Manhattan Declaration or read Bonhoffer (though I did) to add to the simple message of St. Chrysostom: “For forty years the Jews wandered lost in the desert. But fear not. For no longer are you lead led by Moses, but by Jesus Christ.” I ask you, Abouna, how much freer can a man become?

    Reply Well, Orthodox can disagree with Conservative Protestants on politics and economics but not on morally. As I mention in the past the legal codes of the Byzantine and Russian Empires didn’t except homosexuality or abortion. In the first couple months abortion was not punished but in the later stages but the Byzantines and Russians didn’t see thie as morally right.

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    cyntha curran says:

    Also, a lot of Orthodox that voice opposition to conservative Catholics or Protestants support the liberal Protestant view, liberal Protestant came up with gay marriage and ordination of gay clergy or abortion to late term not Orthodox in the first place.

Care to comment?

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