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Christian Dalits & Smelly Progressive Orthodoxies

There’s no way to look at this except a massive setback for the religious liberty cause:

A major faith-based foster care and adoption contractor for the state of Michigan said Monday it will place children in LGBTQ homes, reversing course following a recent legal settlement.

Grand Rapids-based Bethany Christian Services is responsible for about 8 percent of Michigan’s more than 13,000 foster care and adoption cases involving children from troubled households.


On April 11, Bethany’s national board of directors voted to change the policy. It applies only in Michigan, not to its operations in other states. The policy change also does not impact private adoptions, according to Bethany.

From a different story:

An employee of Bethany Christian Services who spoke with WGVU anonymously also claimed that just before the agency’s announcement on their new policy, employees had threatened to walk out of their jobs if the policy was not amended.

Bethany Christian Services is one of the country’s largest Christian adoption services. It says that this policy change only affects its operations in Michigan. But a marker has been laid down: the Bethany board is willing to surrender wherever it is challenged. Why have religious liberty protections if organizations that need them will ultimately cave?

It would be interesting to know what the internal culture at Bethany in Michigan is like regarding this issue. How many people threatened to walk out?

According to WGVU:

On Thursday, Bethany Christian Services officially announced in a statement that they were changing their policy.

“Bethany will continue operations in Michigan, in compliance with our legal contract requirements. The mission and beliefs of Bethany Christian Services have not changed.”

That’s the story Bethany is telling itself and its donors to make it easier to accept the fact that their beliefs have changed. A lot of this is going to be going around in the years to come, as we are transitioning to the new orthodoxy. Like Hillary Clinton told us:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yj1T1gP4Q9M]

This is how the hardball left gets what it wants without having to change the law. Duke University recently fired a popular professor after 20 years of teaching there — this, based on complaints from a handful of woke students. The professor wrote about this:

What happened to me is being repeated at colleges and universities throughout the country. Unfortunately, a growing number of university students equate being made uncomfortable in the classroom with being “harmed.” And in this they are encouraged by a growing number of faculty and administrators who view the mission of the university as more about shielding students from such “harm” (for the sake of “inclusivity”) and less about meaningful education. In the “surveillance university,” students are encouraged to report on the transgressions of faculty, and in what has been called an impulse of “vindictive protectiveness,” faculty are judged guilty and harshly punished.

Such protectiveness is motivated less by a reasonable concern for students’ mental health and more by political ideology. The complaint of a group of conservative students who felt singled out or disrespected or uncomfortable in class would be taken far less seriously. I have been on the receiving end of faculty emails making light of just such complaints.

Nor would a complaint by religious students that God and Christianity were mocked by their professor have much purchase. And I have never heard that Sanford’s “safe space” is a welcome refuge for the (generally reviled) minority of “open” Trump supporters on campus, nor have I heard of “trigger warnings” for depictions of disrespect to the American flag or harm to the unborn.

Also, the Classical Association of the Midwest and South, a professional association of academics studying Greek and Roman culture, rescinded its decision to hold its 2023 meeting at Brigham Young University. Why? Because LGBTs and allies within the classics field claimed it would be “unsafe” for LGBT scholars to meet at BYU, because of the Mormon college’s policies on same-sex behavior. This is a lie, and they know it’s a lie. No sane person believes that LGBTs would be in danger at BYU. This is a lie they tell to stigmatize all those who disagree with them, and to make these people and institutions toxic. In its statement throwing BYU under the bus, CAMWS said

CAMWS strives to be a welcoming and inclusive society for the free exchange of diverse ideas and viewpoints.

They really said this. I bet many of them even believe it. They are so welcoming and inclusive and dedicated to the free exchange of diverse ideas and viewpoints that they cannot bring themselves to meet on the BYU campus, out of fear of getting Mormon cooties.

UPDATE: A reader who is in CAMWS writes:

An important correction: CAMWS did not cancel the meeting in Provo, they *merely* elected to shun BYU by removing the customary panel session held on the campus of the host institution. BYU will still host and the meeting will still be in Provo.

What despicable bigots. And note well, if you want to become a Classics scholar, you have to be part of organizations like this, and their smelly little orthodoxies. They hate traditionalists so much that they can’t bear to be in our presence, even. You think it’s going to stop there? Please. Within twenty years, they will have forced schools like BYU to surrender, or will have made BYU diplomas radioactive.

Megan McArdle writes that the old-fashioned liberal belief in open debate is highly unusual in societies, and was probably only sustainable in the transition period from one set of orthodoxies to another. More:

Existing orthodoxies are largely self-enforcing, transmitted by a million little social signals you absorb without noticing, and enforced by the ubiquitous fear of what the neighbors will think. For most people, most of the time, navigating a familiar orthodoxy is effortless.

Adopting a new orthodoxy, however, is messy — hence the midnight purges and self-incrimination sessions of infant communist regimes. And while the new orthodoxy gropes toward its final shape, people living under it experience a special, debilitating terror: the fear that anything you say might be held against you, that what is mandatory today might be forbidden tomorrow, with ex post facto justice meted out to anyone who failed to anticipate the change.

Nor will the transition be entirely comfortable even for the new orthodoxy’s proponents, who must eventually recognize that what they’re promoting is an orthodoxy — and that they have the power to enforce it.

As McArdle goes on to write, you can’t claim that you’re an underdog when you have the power to destroy people’s careers and lives — and exercise it:

Revolutionaries and reformers, working from outside the system, can’t force people to renounce wrong-think by threatening to strip them of their livelihoods and drum them out of the public square. Those weapons are available only to the powers-that-be.

To advocate such tactics is therefore to admit that you are no longer fighting the system, but that you are the system — that in the centers of cultural production, at least, Rosa Luxemburg is giving way to the commissars, and Martin Luther to the Grand Inquisitor.

Read the whole column. 

Religious and social conservatives need to understand that there is no peace to be made with these people, and that they do not have to control the levers of state power to get their way. Just like that, BYU has been rendered poisonous to Classics scholars. The message has gone out to traditional religious believers within the Classics field: you are now an untouchable, a dalit.

This is going to happen to any and every Christian institution that does not yield to the progressives. Bethany didn’t have to surrender; it could have simply withdrawn those services. But it did surrender, and it’s telling itself and its donors that it did not do what it clearly did. Again: the lies that Christians and Christian institutions will tell and believe in order to save face despite their submission are going to be legion.

They aren’t lies like what progressives tell themselves — such as, “In order to protect diversity and free speech and inquiry, we have to shun Mormons,” and, as Woke (ahem) Forest University is doing, holding special no-whites-allowed faculty meetings to improve diversity on campus.Oh yes, and the meta-lie: that the Right is the prime aggressor in the culture war.

We really are in a time of transition. In my bookThe Benedict Option, a medical specialist — someone who, I can tell you, has risen very high in his field — told me that he would discourage his own children from going into medicine because he can clearly see the moral compromises that Christian doctors are going to have to make. He is afraid that his children would be so indebted by medical school student loans — which cannot be defaulted on — that they would have no choice but to surrender to performing procedures (abortions and other things) that violate their conscience.

When you think about what that Duke professor went through — 20 years of teaching, and great performance reviews, only to be sacked because a few Victims™ complained — what sense does it make for non-victim class people to put in the time, the work, and the expense of pursuing an academic career? How can you plan for the future when the political environment within institutions and corporations is changing to give ideologues the power to hire, fire, or retard your career advancement on the basis of your skin color, your religion, your sex, or other characteristics that make you a dalit in the eyes of progressives?

The Bethany thing is especially unsettling because it might involve a rebellion in the ranks. Philip Rieff wrote in 1966:

The death of a culture begins when its normative institutions fail to communicate ideals in ways that remain inwardly compelling, first of all to the cultural elites themselves.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Bethany faced an internal revolt from its younger employees, who have abandoned the traditional Christian teaching on sexuality, and expect their employer to do so too. If true, then nobody should assume that Bethany is alone in this, or that this is only something going on with Evangelicals. Pew finds that 70 percent of all Catholics (including a slight majority of weekly massgoers), and 85 percent of Catholic Millennials, accept homosexuality. Four years ago, Pew found that “roughly half” of Evangelical Millennials accepted homosexuality — numbers that can only have gone up since then.

We are living through the death of Christian culture, at least on matters of sex and sexuality, because the churches and other normative institutions have failed to communicate Biblical ideals in ways that remain inwardly compelling. Having lost on sex, we Christians are going to lose a great deal more, because the cultural revolution forbids us to think of male and female in traditional ways. We are living through the abolition of man. It is a terrible thing to watch a culture and a civilization turn on Christians, but it’s worse to watch the people within the churches surrender without a fight, because some are so desperate to be accepted, and others — like Cardinal Joseph Tobin — have simply rejected truth.

I wrote The Benedict Option anticipating this reality. There are still people who have the idea that I’m conceive of places to hide — this, even though I say plainly in the introduction that there are no places left to hide. Rather, the Ben Op is about building traditional Christian communities of resilience, within which we can live out our ideals, and communicate them in inwardly compelling ways to others, especially our children. If you aren’t building Ben Op communities and structures now, you and your children will not be able to resist the pressure that is here, and that is coming. You might not even be able to recognize your capitulation.

This is not speculation. It’s happening all around us. Read the signs of the times. This is the new orthodoxy. This is what it means to be in a cultural revolution.

UPDATE: A reader who is in CAMWS writes:

An important correction: CAMWS did not cancel the meeting in Provo, they *merely* elected to shun BYU by removing the customary panel session held on the campus of the host institution. BYU will still host and the meeting will still be in Provo.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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