The World Wide (Religious) Web for Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Happy (belated) Independence Day! If you didn’t get the chance to do so yesterday, make sure to read the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

You might also want to read Abraham Lincoln’s comments on the 4th of July, given at a July 10, 1858 speech in Chicago, Illinois:

Now, sirs, for the purpose of squaring things with this idea of “don’t care if slavery is voted up or voted down,” for sustaining the Dred Scott decision [A voice—"Hit him again"], for holding that the Declaration of Independence did not mean anything at all, we have Judge Douglas giving his exposition of what the Declaration of Independence means, and we have him saying that the people of America are equal to the people of England. According to his construction, you Germans are not connected with it. Now I ask you in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form. Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it and tear it out! Who is so bold as to do it! [Voices—"me" "no one," &c.] If it is not true let us tear it out! [cries of "no, no,"] let us stick to it then, [cheers] let us stand firmly by it then. [Applause.]

And finally, check out Calvin Coolidge’s “Speech on the Occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence”:

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

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On June 30, 2011, the New York Times published “Married, with Infidelities” by Mark Oppenheimer, its “Beliefs” columnist. The article is a paean tosex-columnist Dan Savage, whose views Oppenheimer describes this way:

Although best known for his It Gets Better project, an archive of hopeful videos aimed at troubled gay youth, Savage has for 20 years been saying monogamy is harder than we admit and articulating a sexual ethic that he thinks honors the reality, rather than the romantic ideal, of marriage. In Savage Love, his weekly column, he inveighs against the American obsession with strict fidelity. In its place he proposes a sensibility that we might call American Gay Male, after that community’s tolerance for pornography, fetishes and a variety of partnered arrangements, from strict monogamy to wide openness.

Over at Secondhand Smoke, Wesley J. Smith offers a contrary take:

To the contrary, [Savage’s view] shows that by denigrating the importance of character and self restraint, we are making it increasingly easier to surrender to the temptations that lead to betraying and destructive behavior.  Not good.

Not good, indeed.

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“Should the Marriage Battleground Shift to Religious Freedom?”:

Was the shot heard ’round the evangelical world fired June 24 in New York?

The passage of a same-sex marriage law by that state’s Republican-controlled Senate sent a clear message, a leading religious liberty expert says.

That message: Religious conservatives who advocate traditional marriage must shift their focus to fighting for religious freedom.

To me, the difficult New York lawmakers had in crafting religious/conscience exemptions to its same-sex-marriage law exemplifies Neuhaus’s Law: “where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.”

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“…But There’s Nothing Wrong with Abortion”:

Mara Hvistendahl, author of Unnatural Selection, has been making the rounds in the media drawing out some of the shocking and under-appreciated consequences of sex-selective abortion around the world (we’ve talked about her here and here), but all the while assuring readers that the catastrophic problems she’s describing have nothing to do with abortion per se, only with its application.

Be that as it may, her latest piece in Foreign Policy points out what pro-life groups have been saying for over thirty years: that Western reproductive ideology funded, fueled, and enabled abortion around the globe as a means of population control.

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“Science is the only road to truth? Don’t be absurd”:

“Science is the only philosophical construct we have to determine TRUTH with any degree of reliability.” Think about this for a moment. Is it a scientific statement? No. Can it therefore be relied on as true? No.

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“Real Housewives of the Bible”: Why must Christian “culture” be so derivative?

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