Let’s have a reminder up front. Religious liberty is the ultimate reason there is a United States of America.
Religious liberty is what motivated the original settlers from Europe who had the greatest impact on the formation and character of the nation.
Religious liberty is what ensured a diversity of settlers, and the establishment of a distinctive society in North America, as opposed to a mere colonial presence with higher loyalties to a distant crown.
Religious liberty underlay every precept on which our Constitution‘s Bill of Rights was based. It is the very first liberty enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
Religious liberty is an essential philosophical premise for the American concept of government that is limited, constitutional, and federal — a government with checks and balances, and separation of powers.
And that’s because without religious liberty, there is no other liberty. There has never been a free society that didn’t have religious liberty. There will never be one. If we don’t separate our moral consciences and idea of how we relate to God from the compulsion of the state, we can’t justify separating anything else from it. Until men recognized the need to enforce that separation, the ideas of liberty that we take for granted today didn’t even exist.
So when the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an entity chartered by the U.S. federal government, comes out with a report stating that “religious liberty” is code for “discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,” we know there is something far too wrong in the politics of our current governmental arrangements to be corrected with small measures.
These are the exact words of the report, cited at CNSNews:
“The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance,” Martin Castro, chairman of the commission, said in a statement included in the 296-page report.
America’s Founders would weep, to think that the people’s greatest liberties are now held at risk by an unelected commission that pretends to detect when the people are being hypocritical and using “code” in their speech. No government agency on earth is properly chartered to do such a thing — because there’s no standard of verification to hold such opinions to. They are completely subjective.
But it’s not just the Founders’ tears we should think of here. It’s also the bloody century we just came out of, in which tens of millions of people were slaughtered because tribunals like the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights accused them of being hypocrites and speaking in code.
What the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has just done is pure Stalinism. The Commission is in the wrong a priori. No one has to defend himself against such accusations, because they are beyond the proper scope of any agency of the government. Any agency at all: there is not one single branch of government that can properly proclaim, with the force of the state behind it, that the people are being hypocritical or speaking in code.
You are free to think such things about other people all you want. But it’s not the business of government to act as if it has the power to know such things. It does not have that power. Full stop.
That’s why we limit what government is allowed to do, and put checks and balances on it. Because it doesn’t know everything. Government is just other people, armed and acting on their opinions.
Take a moment to verify that the commission producing this report is lopsided and biased. Among its eight commissioners, there is ONE Republican, Peter Kirsanow. The chairman is Chicago Democrat Martin R. Castro. These are eight people acting on their opinions. Yet the apparatus of the U.S. federal government, as it has metastasized over the last century, now puts an armed state behind their opinions — and says your opinions amount to hypocrisy, hatred, and intolerance.
When the “civil rights commission” proclaims that our most fundamental right is a sham and a dodge, for hypocrites and haters, we can know without any remaining doubt that what governs us today is too deeply corrupted to continue as it is. The longstanding tradition of respecting precedent from administration to administration has to be overturned: this “report” from the “civil rights commission” is irreconcilable with what America is supposed to be. There is no respecting it, and trying to go on, with these words polluting our official discourse.
We’ve been trying that for years: leaving the seemingly small, marginal arrangements and statements of obscure government agencies in place, even after elected offices change hands. And now the effects of this political sloth are coming to fruition.
Do you see yet that this cannot stand? We can’t keep living with this old-consensus situation: this unchecked federal juggernaut. It is being transformed, just outside our field of vision, into Stalin’s system of People’s Tribunals. It will not be leaving you alone.
This commission report intends to rob you of your ability to even talk about the most basic right Americans cherish, and have fought and died for. I remember seven or eight years ago being brought up short by the reaction of some fellow conservatives to a discussion of states’ rights — by which a majority of us in the discussion meant the constitutional prerogatives of states as prescribed by the 9th and 10th Amendments. A few people didn’t want to use the expression “states’ rights,” however, because they feared that it connoted racism, and a determination to enforce racism at the state level.
Their minds were enslaved to a fear of language, framed and promoted by the left. They found themselves unable to talk effectively about one of the most important concepts in the American political philosophy — federalism, and the separation of powers between the central government and the states — because they were afraid of being labeled as Southern racists speaking in code.
Yet in our constitutional system, states do have rights. The purpose of those rights was never to perpetuate racism — or the evil of slavery — but to consciously limit the power of the distant central government, and make the state governments a check on it. (As the central government can also be a check on the states.) The purpose was to ensure that most of the laws the people made would be made in their local capitals, and have limited reach over territory and populations.
It wasn’t necessary to attack states’ rights, as the means of confronting institutionalized racism in the individual states. The idea of states’ rights was attacked conveniently through the laudable demand for the protection of civil rights. But it was attacked for a separate and unsavory reason: to undermine the checks and balances that limit the power of government over Americans.
The honest, truly American approach would have been to rescue “states’ rights” from those who might hide bad intentions behind the concept. Instead, states’ rights themselves were made the bogeyman.
Demonizing the expression “states’ rights” denies us the ability to discuss that extremely important concept on a basis of shared understanding. Such demonization has been a major factor in aggrandizing the federal government at the expense of the states and the people.
Demonizing the expression “religious liberty” will have the same effect. Americans need to understand that it is our very lives we are fighting for now. Without religious liberty, there is no “life,” as we understand it: no choice, no opportunity, no latitude for intellectual courage or extraordinary deeds — unless they lead to ostracism or death. Merely fogging a mirror while you await the next order from a collective authority — an order to say or not say something, or any other kind of order — is not “life.”
Don’t mistake this commission report for a minor event. An officially chartered, government-run commission has put the report on our books. It has just upped the ante. It’s not only the report that has to be done away with. It’s the commission, the 1957 law that created it, and the entire mindset that any government commission can properly proclaim whether the people are being hypocritical today, or speaking in code. It all has to be done away with.