GARLINGTON: There Is No Such Thing As Religious Neutrality

The 20th-century conservative writer Irving Babbitt once remarked, ‘When studied with any degree of thoroughness, the economic problem will be found to run into the political problem, the political problem into the philosophical problem, and the philosophical problem itself to be almost indissolubly bound up at last with the religious problem’ (quoted in Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind, 7th edn., Regnery, Washington, D.C., 2001, p. 424).

Furthermore, Professor Richard Weaver in his book Visions of Order made the point that every society will have some kind of ultimate religious principle at its center that molds and shapes the culture of that society.

In the South in general, and in Louisiana in particular, many might think that Christianity is that ultimate religious principle, but at the moment we are not so sure.  Consider the following statements from lawmakers in Louisiana’s Legislature:

Rep. Dodie Horton, speaking of her bill to outlaw discussion of sexual orientation and/or gender identity in classrooms, said, ‘This is not against anyone’s lifestyle, at all. It’s about protecting the children in the classroom from an adult sharing their lifestyle preference, that’s all this is.’

Rep. Garofalo added similar words:  ‘Chalmette Representative Ray Garofalo supported the bill and said teachers should only be teaching the basics, reading, writing, and arithmetic.

‘ “What we’ve seen over the last few years is there are activist teachers in our classrooms trying to indoctrinate our students into a political way of thinking. It’s not right and it’s not fair to the students,” said Garofalo.’

Regarding her bill to add ‘In God We Trust’ to public school classrooms, Rep. Horton provided these comments:

‘Haughton Representative Dodie Horton says it’s not pushing religion on anyone

‘ “That is our motto. That’s who we are and that’s what it’s saying. I think it’s important for our children to see it and not just walk passed it and not even know it’s there. So that’s my goal.” ’

If Christianity were at the heart of these proposed laws, the statements of these lawmakers would have been different.  Rep. Horton would have said of her bill banning inappropriate sexual discussions from classrooms that she is firmly against the LGBT lifestyle, that it is harmful to those who engage in it (physically and spiritually), and that she wants children to know that they are made in the image and likeness of the Holy Trinity Who created them.  Likewise, Rep. Garofalo would not be against ‘indoctrination’ of students as such, but would insist instead that they be taught correct doctrine so that they will have the proper foundation to learn and understand the basics of education (read this essay for a good discussion of that last point).

On her bill putting the motto ‘In God We Trust’ in classrooms, Rep. Horton would not shy away from ‘pushing religion’ on those in the public schools; she would have enthusiastically embraced the idea, defending Christianity as the highest good that the children, teachers, secretaries, etc., could come in contact with.

The agnostic attitude of these two representatives, which is symptomatic of much of the Right, is why the Left has had much more success in the culture wars than conservatives.  For the Left is unabashedly pushing a religious program, while the Right counters only with empty talk of respect for all points of view, for free dialogue, etc.  But something will always triumph over nothing:  That is why the Left’s actual religious doctrines (as erroneous and evil as they are – euthanasia, abortion, unfettered drug use, pornography for kids, LGBT rights, satanic school clubs) are trampling the Right’s vacuous pluralistic agnosticism.  It is why Leftist radicals like Obama, Bernie Sanders, and AOC get more traction than milquetoast characters of the Right like Rich Lowry and Paul Ryan (Christopher Ferrara’s book Liberty, the God That Failed has some good passages on this subject).


We are forced to conclude, then, that Christ is not the guiding, forming principle of Louisiana’s life but something akin to Promethean humanism with a thin Christian coat of paint on top of it.  And that thin coating seems to be flaking off rather rapidly, leaving only an ideology of freedom from all restraints (whether the past, or parents, or gender, etc.) as the dominant force in our State.

No less an authority than Christ Himself said that ‘He who is not with me is against me, and he who does gather with me scatters’ (St. Luke’s Gospel 11:23).  If folks on the Right in Louisiana are serious about the well-being of our State, if we want to see a real flowering of Christian culture here, we must base our beliefs, our laws, our politics, etc., firmly on Christian principles and openly proclaim and defend that connection.  Instead of the deistic ‘In God We Trust’, for instance, give the schools something Christocentric, something Trinity-centric, something like the beloved St. Patrick’s ‘Breastplate’ hymn, in which he prays,

‘I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.

‘I bind this day to me forever,
by power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on cross for my salvation;

‘ . . .

‘Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me;

‘Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.’

(More of the hymn is here.)

Politics cannot be divorced from religion, as Irving Babbitt said.  Some religious belief will fundamentally shape all our laws, all our debates, all our government officials’ actions, all our schools’ curricula, etc.  Settling on a religious creed is, therefore, the most important public policy.  The Left understands this; the Right does not.  When conservatives, revivalists, etc., in Louisiana and other States (Red or Blue) take this to heart and begin pushing avowedly Christian policies, they will likely see their political fortunes change for the better – a thesis proven by the electoral victories of Viktor Orban in Hungary and Giorgia Meloni in Italy.



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