The left is too intolerant to attract evangelicals

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The left is too intolerant to attract evangelicals

Charles McKay, Staff Columnist

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A recurring criticism directed at conservative Evangelicals is that they force their beliefs on others. If you were to simply listen to progressive politicians and pundits, you could be excused for thinking that American society is on the verge of being transformed into a real-life version of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” On the contrary, the new intolerant left, not the religious right, increasingly uses government coercion to force their values on others.

Cases are continually emerging in which courts intervene to protect the rights of groups that do not conform to progressive values. This past summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California flagrantly violated the free speech rights of pro-life pregnancy clinics by requiring them to advertise for abortion clinics.

The Supreme Court also struck down the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s effort in 2017 to force Jack Phillips, a Christian baker, to make a cake endorsing gay marriage.  

Likewise, Evangelicals in public political life are frequently met with open hostility and reproach for privately living out the central tenets of their faith.

When the Second Lady of the United States, Karen Pence, decided this year to return to teach art at Immanuel Christian School, media outlets expressed their disapproval and condemned her decision. Why? Because the private Christian school upholds the traditional view of marriage consistent with mainstream Christian theology.

Imagine if mainstream conservatives were to suggest that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Muslim faith was somehow a disqualifying factor for her to serve in the House of Representatives. Such discrimination would be seen as absurd and rightfully condemned. But when directed at an Evangelical, it is defended by the left as guaranteeing a separation of church and state.

Systemic discrimination in government-funded schools is almost exclusively directed toward Christian groups, as exemplified by a very recent case out of the University of Iowa. Business Leaders in Christ, a faith-based student organization, was “de-recognized” by the school due to the group’s requirement that leaders hold orthodox Christian views pertaining to sex and marriage.

In February of this year, a federal judge found the University’s policy to religiously discriminate against the Christian group unconstitutional. The judge even noted that the school had applied a stricter level of scrutiny to Business Leaders in Christ than it did to other religious and ethnicity based student organizations. Vanderbilt, Cal State and other colleges have engaged in similar religious discrimination in the past.

Simply put, modern Evangelical groups are not trying to proselytize through government coercion; they are generally trying to exist free from it.

Moreover, the idea that laws can somehow exist free from morality is patently false.

In practice, Democrats on the left demonstrate this. They frequently cite moral principles in their public appeals to the “fairness” of social safety nets and “justice” of universal healthcare. Nancy Pelosi even drew criticism for her recurring use of a non-existent Bible verse to support those policies.

The truth is, the United States Constitution prevents our government from establishing religion, not morality. The debates over abortion, gay marriage, and other social issues do not center on religious questions.

Fundamentally, progressives don’t object to morality shaping government policies; they just personally reject certain moral tenets that Evangelicals embrace. For this reason, Evangelicals are finding it difficult to find a home in the Democratic party. Rather than mislabel a massive voting bloc as being close-minded authoritarians, Democrats might try a little introspection of their progressive values.  

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A recurring strain of criticism directed at conservative Evangelicals is that they force their beliefs on others. If you were to simply listen to progressive politicians and pundits, you could be excused for thinking American society is on the verge of being transformed into a real-life version of The Handmaid’s Tale.  On the contrary, the new intolerant left, not the religious right, increasingly uses government coercion to force their values on others.

With each passing year, cases are continually emerging in which courts intervene to protect the rights of groups that do not conform to progressive values.  This past summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California flagrantly violated the free speech rights of pro-life pregnancy clinics by requiring them to advertise for abortion clinics.

The Supreme Court also struck down the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s effort in 2017 to force Jack Phillips, a Christian baker, to make a cake endorsing gay marriage.  Rather than learn its lesson, the state again targeted him in 2018, this time for refusing to make a cake that celebrated a biological man’s medical transition into womanhood. Only when facing a lawsuit from Philips for religious discrimination did the state of Colorado end their eight-year crusade against him.  

Likewise, Evangelicals in public political life frequently meet open hostility and reproach for privately living out the central tenets of their faith.

When the Second Lady of the United States, Karen Pence, decided this year to return to teach art at Immanuel Christian School (where she had previously worked for twelve years), media outlets expressed their disapproval and condemned her decision. Why? Because the private Christian school upholds the traditional view of marriage consistent with mainstream Christian theology.   

In another instance of blatant religious bigotry, the eminently qualified federal appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett was branded unfit for public service based on her Christian religious convictions.  “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein declared during a confirmation hearing, “and that’s a concern.” Judge Barrett’s “dogma” was one of devout Catholicism, and apparently that was enough for the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose her nomination.

Imagine if mainstream conservatives were to suggest that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Muslim faith was somehow a disqualifying factor for her to serve in the House of Representatives. Such discrimination would be seen as absurd and rightfully condemned. But when directed at an Evangelical, it is defended by the left as guaranteeing a separation of church and state.

Systemic discrimination in government-funded schools is exclusively directed toward Christian groups, as exemplified by a very recent case out of the University of Iowa. Business Leaders in Christ, a faith-based student organization, was “de-recognized” by the school due to the group’s requirement that leaders hold orthodox Christian views pertaining to sex and marriage.

In February of this year, a federal judge found the University’s policy to religiously discriminate against the Christian group unconstitutional. The judge even noted that the school had applied a stricter level of scrutiny to Business Leaders in Christ than it did to other religious and ethnic based student organizations. Vanderbilt, Cal State and other colleges have engaged in similar religious discrimination in the past.

Simply put, modern Evangelical groups are not trying to proselytize through government coercion; they are generally trying to exist free from it.

Moreover, the idea that laws can somehow exist free from morality is patently false.

In practice, Democrats on the left demonstrate this. They frequently cite moral principles in their public appeals to the “compassion” of open borders, “fairness” of social safety nets, and “justice” of universal healthcare. The current Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, even drew criticism for her recurring use of a non-existent Bible verse to support those policies.

The truth is that the United States Constitution prevents our government from establishing religion, not morality. The debates over abortion, gay marriage, and other social issues do not center on religious questions.  If you believe an unborn child to be a vulnerable human life (regardless of your religious affiliation), then you will presumably ask the government to protect the sanctity of that life. The same is true for anyone who accepts the traditional view of marriage, defined by the French father of modern anthropology, Claude Lévi-Strauss, as a “social institution with a biological foundation.”

Fundamentally, progressives don’t object to morality shaping government policies; they just personally reject certain moral tenets that Evangelicals embrace. For this reason, Evangelicals are finding it difficult to find a home in the Democratic party.  Rather than mislabel a massive voting block as being close-minded authoritarians, Democrats might try a little introspection of their progressive values.