On the anniversary of the March on Washington, and standing within feet of where Dr. Martin Luther King shared his dream of a better, more just day, political commentator Glenn Beck announced, “America today begins to turn back to God.”
It was the launch of his “Restore Honor” rally.
Speaking to a crowd that extended from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, Beck urged: “Recognize your place to the Creator. Realize that he is our king. He is the one who guides and directs our life and protects us." Included were appeals for more prayer and for the restoration of traditional American values. All well and good.
Then, a few days later, Beck appeared on The O’Reilly Factor. When asked by host Bill O’Reilly why he steers away from cultural issues like abortion and gay “marriage,” Beck answered, "Honestly, I think we have bigger fish to fry," adding, "You can argue about abortion or gay marriage or whatever all you want. The country is burning down...I don't think marriage, that the government actually has anything to do with...that is a religious right."
Anyone see a disconnect?
To “turn back to God” is to place allegiance to our heavenly King before that due our earthly kings. It is to put the law of God above the law of man, including what his law says about the sanctity of life and the sacredness of marriage. Any “turn” failing to do so, is a turn of 360 degrees.
In the words of a hero
Martin Luther King is a personal hero of Beck, whom he is fond of quoting. In his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, King gave three features of an “unjust law”: 1) it is manmade law that is out of harmony with the moral law of God, 2) it degrades the human personality, and 3) it is forced upon “on a minority that,,,had no part in enacting or devising [it].” All three apply to legalized abortion and gay “marriage.”
Both abortion and gay “marriage” are incongruent with the moral law of God: abortion because it is the taking of innocent life, prohibited by the Sixth Commandment; gay “marriage” because it is against the institution, divinely ordained, of marriage between one man and one woman.
Both degrade our humanness: the former because it deems the smallest and most powerless among us as unworthy of basic human rights; the latter because it presumes that man is a response-stimulus organism that has no choice but to act on its creaturely instincts.
Finally, and most disturbingly, both have been legalized without the consent of the governed. Abortion-on-demand was made the law of the land by the “robed masters” of the judiciary. The same is true in states where gay “marriage” has been made legal. But in every state where it has been put to popular vote, gay “marriage” has been roundly defeated. Currently, that’s 30 states and counting.
Broken legs and picked pockets
In his tete-a-tete with O’Reilly, Beck further explained his position, quoting another of his personal heroes, Thomas Jefferson: "If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?"
Beck is right. The legitimization of homosexual unions will not lead to broken legs; it will lead to something much worse: a chilling atmosphere for religious freedom.
In 2006, anti-discrimination laws in Massachusetts forced Catholic Charities to make a gut-wrenching choice: extend child adoption to gay couples or lose state funding. Rather than abandon its faith statement on sexual morality, Catholic Charities chose the latter. Sadly, the loss in funding forced them to give up their adoption services; but the real losers were the parentless children and childless couples of Massachusetts.
Recently, during the deliberations over the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, a group of chaplains warned legislators that if the policy is rescinded, “it is only a matter of time before homosexual couples request participation in the [military’s marriage counseling] program.” Which means that chaplains who refuse to counsel such couples, or who counsel them according to their religious convictions, will face "the risk of career-ending accusations of insubordination and discrimination."
Just a few months ago, an Augusta State University graduate student was directed to undergo “remediation” training, or face expulsion. Her offense? Stating her belief that homosexuality is a choice and that gender is not. Her training is to include gay sensitivity sessions, pro-gay literature reading, and participation(!) in the local Gay Pride parade. Her attorney called it a thought-reform program intended to “force her to change her beliefs.”
No, it is not leg-breaking, but thought-policing and religious persecution that loom if the institution of marriage is deconstructed and redefined.
As to picking our pockets, the biggest provider in the abortion industry, Planned Parenthood, receives nearly $350 million annually in federal money. Money picked from the pockets of taxpayers, Glenn Beck included.
What’s more, despite the claims of its supporters, Obamacare has gaping loopholes for abortion funding that Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Maryland have made plans to exploit.
Regrettably, all this appears to have escaped Glenn Beck’s notice. More regrettably, Beck is not alone.
Change in strategy
With mid-term elections around the corner, some conservatives are backing off hot button social issues.
Republican governor Mitch Daniels has called for a truce on abortion. Mississippi Republican Haley Barbour counseled candidates to refrain from bringing up social issues in this election year. And in the aftermath of the recent overturning of California’s Proposition 8, GOP reaction has been strangely mute.
Conservative political analyst Larry Sabato puts his finger on what’s at play here: “A modern party does not want a campaign that’s built around a crusade on gay rights [or, presumably, other cultural issues, either]...it won’t work, for one thing, and for another, it’s so controversial that it would obscure the nonpartisan appeal of the economic issue.”
Still smarting from their past mistake of forgetting “It’s the economy, stupid!” conservatives are opting for winning elections over winning hearts, and turning to political wonks rather than turning back to God. But putting pragmatism over moral principle is the reason we have a financial crisis in the first place and why, as Glenn Beck puts it, “the country is burning down.”
If the strategy works, you can be sure that social issues will become less of an issue next time around, and less still the time after that, until they fail to register on the social conscience meter altogether. Conservatives may gain power, but they will lose their way and, in the end, we will all lose.
How soon the lessons of the past are forgotten.
The better course
On that sunny August day in 1963, Dr. King spoke out against such compromises: “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy...Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children...”
In oratorical eloquence, King went on to explain the need for unwavering commitment to the cause of justice:
We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
King could have chosen the path of compromise and expediency, allowing civil rights to be placed on the political back burner in hopes of gaining wider political support. Had he done so, the strides made in racial equality and justice over the last forty years would have been much longer in coming. But he chose the better, surer course. He held the spotlight on the injustices of his day, while steadily pressing for the cause of civil rights.
In the socio-political climate of our day, we would do well to stand on his shoulders, applying his rousing rhetoric to the current situation:
If that sense of dissatisfaction resonates with you, I invite you to join me and the nearly half million others who have signed The Manhattan Declaration and the growing numbers who have joined the Pray and Act initiative.
Regis Nicoll is a freelance writer and a BreakPoint Centurion. His "All Things Examined" column appears on BreakPoint every other Friday. Serving as a men’s ministry leader and worldview teacher in his community, Regis publishes a free weekly commentary to stimulate thought on current issues from a Christian perspective. To be placed on this free e-mail distribution list, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.