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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For March 15, 2017

March 10

To Brian Mattson and his blogpost review of a book by Ryszard Legato where liberal democracy and totalitarian communism are series as having many similarities including their opposition to Christianity. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

There are two things we should note here. First, that the author of the book cited, Ryszard Legutko, is an honest broker with no religious strings attached that would color his world view and thus affect how he perceives liberal democracy. Of course such is not the case. Lequtko is a Roman Catholic who opposed the legalization of homosexuality and who is currently being sued for his verbal attack on students who called for the removal of 'Christian symbols' from schools.
Second, as with Ayn Rand, it is very possible that Lequtko's view of the Communism/Socialism is a bit distorted since his only personal experience with the Left is Bolshevism. There are many Leftists who strongly opposed Bolshevism both back when it hijacked the  Russian Revolution and today. But Lequtko seems content to associate liberal democracy with its love of 'freedom, diversity, and tolerance' with the totalitarian communism seen in Bolshevism anyway.

So why tie liberal democracy to the totalitarianism of communism? Is it because both had legitimate gripes against Christianity so that their persecution of Christianity did not originate out of religious differences per say. Here we should note that Bolshevism persecuted the Church because the Church supported wealth and power prior to both the February and October Revolutions. We should note that not all on the Left opposed Christianity, but the Bolsheviks did. As for liberal democracy, we need to know the details of why it opposes Christianity. Let assume that, as some like Lequtko would advance, that America was founded on Christianity. We should first note that there was quite a bit of religious intolerance just between Christian denominations themselves. That intolerance finally ended when the Revolutionary War's demands for  manpower meant that the American churches could no longer remain too divided.

Then it was out of Christianity that people felt entitled to take land from the Native Americans resulting in ethnically cleansing  them from most of America. Then we saw that much of Christianity supported the subjugation of Blacks through slavery and then Jim Crow. And all through America's history we have seen how the American churches have worked to marginalize homosexuals first with criminalizing their practices so that homosexuals could be either executed or incarcerated on to allowing for the discrimination against homosexuals and opposing their equality in society.

It is the details of the diversity that both liberal democracy embraced and much of American Christianity opposed that perhaps sheds light on why Lequtko both would associate it with totalitarian Communism (Bolshevism) and would replace liberal democracy. Perhaps the term is ethnocracy would be the replacement. Ethnocracy refers to the rule of a specific group based on ethnic ties, race, language, national identity, or religion would exercise over the rest of a pluralistic nation using the democratic processes. For if diversity and freedom are our enemies because of their alleged similarities to totalitarian Communism, then some degree of conformity is the solution. And it appears that, according to Lequtko, Classical and Christian traditions would tell us how to conform. But how is it that insistence on conformity is not mentioned as being similar to totalitarian Communism while liberal democracy with its emphasis on diversity is? That, rather than what is attributed to Lequtko as a replacement for liberal democracy, is what requires further explanation in a sequel. And this would also add to why Lequtko said there was a justified fear of religion, which is rather paradoxical.

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March 11

To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost on “education liberation,” which is used to describe why we should support vouchers for school choice. This appeared in the Acton blog.

If we applied the school choice model to attending college, then each student who attended a for-profit college, a private college, or a religious college would receive from the state the same assistance that an instate student in a state college receives. Here we should note that what an instate student in a state college receives is hidden since states give money state schools to help finance these state schools.

We should also note that if we applied the college model to the school choice program, we would note that all private, charter, and religious schools would be responsible for providing assistance to students who could not afford to attend their schools.

Now here is the inconsistency. We wouldn't think of giving the same state money to any student who decided to attend for-profit, private, or religious college that is spent on in-state students at state schools. Why? To make that work, we would either have to raise taxes significantly to fund such a program or we would continue to spend less and less on each instate student attending a state school. And yet, we do not call for a college choice program where students who want to attend non-state schools are depicted as needing liberation through a freedom of choice for colleges. But knowing that public schools, some of which are already suffering from a lack of funds because of depleted tax bases, would receive less and less money because those attending non-public schools are taking public school funds with them as non-public schools are at least partially relieved from the responsibility of finding funding for some of their students. As a result, some public schools, which are basically community schools, will suffer deterioration. And if they collapse, there are not enough resources from the non-public school sector to pick up the slack. Then what happens to those students left behind?

The problem is that, just as in college, students are not prohibited from attending the primary and secondary schools of their choice. Therefore, school choice is not a freedom or liberation issue. It is a financial issue both in college and in primary and secondary education. But if we accommodate those who insist otherwise, we should note that enabling students to "escape" their community schools also becomes a student flight issue. And this points to one of the biggest problems with the school choice movement. For rather than addressing the problems and improving the communities in which under-performing schools are located, we are fleeing from problems. And the students that come from troubled communities only escape those communities during school hours. And then they are taught that success is achieved by leaving the community in which they grew up. This causes these communities to suffer further decay.

We have economic segregation in  our nation where the houses we move into often depend on the neighbors we can afford to live with. And that means we can completely wash our hands of the plights of the communities we didn't want to live in. What is called school choice further exhibits this segregation not in terms of the schools students can choose, but in terms of the plights of the community schools those students leave behind. What was called 'white flight' is an instance of the kind of flight we see resulting from the school choice movement. And those who are left behind eventually become more and more invisible to government and society. Since not all students can flee from their community schools, we should call the school choice plan with its claims of freedom and liberation a student-flight program because their communities are not worth our concern. And yet, with all of what is being said, we haven't really touched on why we have a school choice movement.


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March 13

To Collin Hansen and his blogpost review of Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option where part of what is discussed is whether politics can save us. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

From the review, it appears is that Dreher does not see the threat that wrong associations can be to the Gospel. For by stating that we live in a post-Christian culture, does he ever ask about what from the Christian culture is being rightly rejected? Fortunately Hansen identifies one problematic association: racism. Another one that is often overlooked is economic classism. This is sometimes missed because the predominant branch of the Church of certain places has often sided with wealth. This was true in the pre-revolutionary times of France, Russia, and Spain. And we should note that once the revolutions took place, the Gospel suffered dishonor because the Church had sided with wealth.

I'm afraid that aligning the Church behind Trump repeats this same mistake. For what has Trump done but to show himself an ally to wealth at the expense of eliminating more of business's social responsibilities than have done away with before. Think about the environment as we extract and use even more fossil fuels, dump fracking wastewater into the Gulf of Mexico, dump waste from coal mining into streams, or put a climate denier as head of the EPA. Or think about the new Republican healthcare plan and how it is projected that millions will lose their health insurance while insurance CEOs get tax breaks. Or think about how Trump's tax and spending plans, including cutting billion of dollars from HUD, continue to bankrupt the country. It is important that he wants to eliminate elective abortions performed by Planned Parenthood, but his other actions will be associated with the pro-life cause if we don't oppose him where he is wrong.

In these times, we need to both preserve the Christian faith while being able to interact with our culture. That includes being credible witnesses by acknowledging the past wrongs of the Church as well as being able to identify where the current culture is at least partially right. I don't see that happening under Dreher's Benedict Option. And if I am right, the pertinent question isn't regarding whether politics can save us. And even if we were to ask that question, we have to also ask save us from what? For apparently, having lost the culture war, some believe that politics could have saved us from that.


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March 14

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost video that makes comparisons in an effort to claim that Christian business owners have the right to refuse providing services to same-sex functions. This appeared in Heidelblog.

For the businesses refusing to sell Ivanka's fashions is not an apples to apples comparison with a Christian business refusing to serve a same-sex wedding. For one thing, the business that refuses to sell Ivanka's fashions is determining what iventory they will have. And in the of Nordsrum when they refused to continue to carry Ivanka's fashions, it was because her products were not selling. So on two counts, the comparison is not an apples to apples comparison.

As for the Muslim singer having the right to refuse to sing in a church service, again, one must look for an apples to apples comparison if one wants to compare that with a Christian business refusing to serve a same-sex function. Does the Muslim singer provide his singing as a businessman who serves the general public? If not, there is no apples to apples comparison exists here between his/her refusal and a Christian business owner's refusal to do provide goods and services for the LGBT community or a same-sex function.

As for the Christian business owner who refuses to provide goods and services to a same-sex function because of their personal religious convictions, we must remember that the most apt comparison we can make with this is the Christian business owners who, because of their religious beliefs, refused to serve Blacks during Jim Crow days. Should White Christian business owners have the right to refuse to do business with Blacks for privately held religious reasons? See, here we have more of an apples to apples comparison with Christian business owners' rights to refuse to serve same-sex functions. Why? It is because in both cases, groups from individual consumers are being discriminated against because of their group identity. Allowing such discrimination means that certain kinds of groups of people can suffer partial or full depricvation of goods and services either in isolated locations or throughout the nation in  general.

See, the missing ingredient in all of the other examples compared with Christian business owners who refuse to provide goods and services to  same-sex functions is the relationship the consumer has with the business refusing a business transaction and the welfare of the group being denied. The way the questions were asked in the video focussed solely on the business owners' concerns; there was no expressed concern for what happens to the other party. And this is what dishonors the Gospel when Christian business owners refuse to provide goods and services to either the LGBT community in general or to same-sex functions. These business owners are only expressing concern for themselves; they are expressing no concern for what potentially can happen to the LGBT community. This is the kind of mistake that Christian business owners made when they refused to serve Blacks or served them in segregated fashion during Jim Crow.


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