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Conservative Christian Life Abroad

A reader writes:

I live in New Zealand, a country where religion is completely washed out of political discourse and out of the public square all together. Our Human Rights Commission decided in favour of a transgender students rights to use the girls bathroom in the single sex girls school he/she attends last month. It was our first. You get the picture.

We have a state funded broadcaster called National Radio that I was listening to earlier this week. They were covering the Democratic convention and had a Democrat spokeswoman and a Republican observer / commentator.

The interviewer was enthusing about Hillary, as was the Democrat (as you would expect) and then they brought the Republican in and asked somewhat incredulously if he would be voting for Trump.

He equivocated a bit, and then said (and I paraphrase) “I am a conservative Christian, and I cannot bring myself to vote for a man who claims to have been a Christian for 70 years but has never once asked God for forgiveness.”

I enjoyed it because he unknowingly broke an important social taboo here in NZ by mentioning God on National Radio, and worse still, introduced the idea that we might need forgiveness from him on public radio! – it was the closest thing we get to an ‘evangelical moment’ from our public broadcaster, and it came totally out of ‘left field’ taking both the interviewer and the nation by surprise!

The interviewer quickly recovered and moved passed the awkward moment, but it was a reminder to me (if I needed it) just how different the religious and political landscape is in the USA compared to, well probably the rest of the Western world.

You may think conservative Christianity is in retreat (and it is) but you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Voting for the ‘least worst option’ has become a way of life for conservative Christians here in New Zealand, and I suspect other parts of the Western world. I appreciate that even then you have very little to choose from, and voting for stability, albeit ideological fraught is ‘not nothing’ as you say.

Still, it would be hard to do.

I invite conservative Christian readers in other Western countries and continents (Europe, Canada, Australia, South America) to share here their experiences of what political life is like for their tribe. Tell us Americans what we have to, um, look forward to.

(Hey readers, I want to apologize to you if your comments have been caught in the spam filter. Uncle Chuckie told me his weren’t posting. I checked, and found about 10 or 12 of you regular commenters were losing comments in the spam filter. I restored them all, and you shouldn’t have problems. No idea why this happens. The J.D. Vance interview walloped our servers, so maybe that had something to do with it.)

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41 Comments To "Conservative Christian Life Abroad"

#1 Comment By Charles Cosimano On July 30, 2016 @ 12:49 am

The TAC needs better servers.

#2 Comment By Peter On July 30, 2016 @ 2:58 am

Hi Rod,

As a conservative evangelical from Australia my experience is fairly close to that of your correspondent from New Zealand.

We still have a rump of fairly hard line conservatives in one of our two major political parties but they tend to say silly things that don’t help our cause very much. (Anti-Muslim rhetoric is a disaster for religious liberty, as is the rather unsophisticated critique of the LGBTQI agenda we hear from time-to-time.)

Abortion is not a public issue anywhere like it is in the States. We don’t have gay marriage yet but it’s coming and so is the whole package of transgender “rights”.

Perhaps the best and the worst thing about Australian culture is it’s deep-seated apathy. The radical policies of the LGBTQI lobby pass into law because most people don’t care enough to consider their impact, but then on the other hand, this apathy means that people are generally happy to let us worship and live as we please.

We have huge problems with alcohol, drugs and domestic violence. The way we’ve treated our indigenous people and asylum seeks is a disgrace. That being said, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! By world standards, we are safe, free and prosperous.

Thanks for your work.

Peter

#3 Comment By Sobakevich On July 30, 2016 @ 4:19 am

I live in Australia. Ignorance of all religion is pervasive here and perceptions of Christianity tend to derive from the worst sterotypes of real-life U.S.evangelicals and the fictional debauchery of Catholic priests. Australia has always been a resistant country due to our convict heritage, its attendant anti-authority attitude and the often haalthy impulse to chop down anyone who puts on airs of any sort, religion, wealth, talent etc. Since the seventies the bug of secular liberal prosperity has infected us hard.

Officially we have a high rate of Christian observance but only 5-10% attend church weekly. That said, Christian communities are quite strong and supportive in our secular urban areas. They have to be. The time has long past where politicians even paid lip-service to Christianity. There is nothing to gain from it.

I have a similar story to your NZ correspondent. Recently a young boy with Down Syndrome went missing for several days in a state forest. After he was found alive, mercifully, his mother was interviewed on our public radio and spoke about how the family’s faith and prayer helped them through the ordeal. The presenter had no idea what to say or what to ask. Moreover, the mother talked about their decision to have the God-given child even though they knew he would have Down Syndrome. The presenter was totally caught off guard. If you see a child with a disability like Down Syndrome that can be tested for pre-birth it is an even bet the family is religious. Doctors frequently recommend abortion in such cases.

Most of my parent’s generation (born in the 1940s) were baptised in the Anglican Church as a matter of social pressure but my aunts and uncles look at me bug-eyed when I say I’ve been at church. “Why would you want to complicate your life with something like that?”

#4 Comment By Preserve James On July 30, 2016 @ 4:58 am

I am an Australian, which gives us a position quite unique in the culture wars. On one hand, our churches have been overtaken by the liberalism present in society; the collapse in churchgoing and vocations reflects this (we were one third non-established Protestant a hundred years ago; they are now 5% of the population). However, society itself has proved strangely resistant to ongoing cultural corrosion. We are the last major country in the West to have neither gay marriage or civil unions. We are still holding out on that front; there will be a plebiscite on the matter next year, and the Left is very nervous about the result. The transgenders in schools controversy became a very major issue, and I think most Australians were deeply shocked. We are an easygoing people, and we hate unfairness, but to see Marxist ideology professed in schools was too much for people to stomach.

In terms of cultural conservatism generally, it is a rather odd situation. People are still very much attached to the values of civic nationalism; most people here besides the usual inner city liberal malcontents genuinely love Australia, here history, and her values. We are much more secular than America, but there is still a core feeling of regard in conservatism for the place and value of Christianity in this country.

#5 Comment By Anastasia On July 30, 2016 @ 6:35 am

The Netherlands has a reputation for being a socially tolerant country that goes back centuries. The country is well known for its modern policy on prostitution, drugs, euthanasia and gay rights, but this is also the country that welcomed people like Anne Frank’s family — and much earlier, Spinoza — when they couldn’t live safely anywhere else. This sense of tolerance and justice has religious roots that are still quite strong. That seems like an odd thing to say in a country that is becoming radically secularized, a country where the churches are closing at a steady rate, and probably most Dutch people would deny that religion plays an active role in society today. Yet it’s not completely gone, and in addition to the country’s unquestionable Christian religious heritage there are still signs that religion — or perhaps the religious search, or spirituality, or a fierce defense of the ideals of tolerance and justice — are alive and healthy in ways that are quite different from the dutiful churchgoing of earlier years.

The Netherlands is a parliamentary democracy, which means you can vote for a party that actually expresses your values. There are three Christian parties: the Christian Democrats, a large mainline party that really doesn’t have much to do with Christianity as such; the Christian Union, a party based on strong Christian values (pro-life, anti-euthanasia); and the SGP, a very conservative Calvinistic party (women were not allowed to be members until 2006). All these parties have representatives in parliament, so obviously there are enough voters in the country to make this possible.

There are other social phenomena that I find very interesting in this “post-Christian” society. Dutch society used to be based on a policy called “pillarization,” which meant that every religious grouping (or non-religious, socialist grouping) had its own strictly defined pillar. If you were Catholic, you attended Catholic churches, voted for the Catholic party, sent your kids to Catholic schools, bought your bread from the Catholic bakery, your bike from the Catholic bike-maker, your meat from the Catholic butcher. You listened to the Catholic radio station, watched the Catholic TV station and read the Catholic newspaper. You never strayed from your pillar. After the war this system broke down, yet remnants of it still exist. The pillarized radio and TV stations have never disappeared, nor have the newspapers. There are still pillarized schools (there is a policy of free choice of schools in the Netherlands, a voucher system, whereby you can send your child to any kind of school, anywhere, free of charge). Now there seems to be a new pillar in formation, the Islamic pillar, although some people are very unhappy to see it. It’s ironic, in a country that was so strictly divided along religious lines until quite recently.

But there are other smaller things that fascinate me. Every years there’s a National Bible Quiz on prime time TV, which is quite popular. And around Good Friday there’s a modern performance of The Passion that is watched by millions. We watched The Passion this year and were very moved. It takes place in the center of a large city, and during the intermission people in the crowd are interviewed. There are many families, many young people and children in attendance. This year the interviewer asked the young people and children if they ever went to church, and they said no. “Then why are you here?” the interviewer asked? “Because this is interesting to me,” they said. “This is the story of a hero, of love and sacrifice. That means something to me.”

What to make of it? I think this is a country of searchers who have not found what they’re looking for in mainline religion. The old values of tolerance and justice are still important to them, as are deep questions of meaning. But the mainline religions have not been able to meet their needs. We had that experience years ago when we tried to find a Catholic church where we could continue our religious journey. The Dutch Catholic church had basically turned into a social justice society. We ended up in a Russian Orthodox Church, where many of the parishioners are Dutch. The church had to purchase a larger building ten years ago to accommodate all its parishioners, so we ended up buying a former Franciscan monastery in the center of the city that the Catholic diocese couldn’t afford to maintain.

Is this what you can look forward to in the US? I doubt it. This is a situation quite unique to the Netherlands. I actually think Walker Percy had it right in Love in the Ruins.

#6 Comment By Chris Rawlings On July 30, 2016 @ 7:20 am

We just moved to Israel—a debatably Western country, even though it is generally very Westernized– from a blue-ish part of the United States. In some ways it is more secularized than the United States, and in some ways much less. But especially because the handful of ways in which the country is not as far along in the process of secularization are largely in deference to Judaism—and we are Catholics—it is yet still more difficult for us.

Most of the country would strike Americans as a fairly deeply secularized place. This is especially true of self-styled bastions of secularism—indeed, libertinism—like Tel Aviv, where Orthodox Jews make up only 5 to 10 percent of the city’s population. We live in Jerusalem, which is a sociological oddity in Israel because it has a very large Orthodox Jewish population—roughly 50 percent of people here are Orthodox Jews—and also a very large (30 to 35 percent) Arab population, most of whom are Muslims of varying degrees of religiosity. Jerusalem is a bit of a pariah in the Israeli imagination because it is very religious and because it is poor, so tax monies often flow one way, out of the pockets of wealthy, white Tel Aviv yuppies to large religious Jewish families in Jerusalem. The ressentiment towards religious Jews by other parts of Israel is very deep.

Atheism, sexual liberationism, and secularization are arguably more pronounced and advanced in Israeli society than in American society, or at least the “red” parts of American society. Like America, though, even Israeli religious communities are feeling its effects. A Bar-Ilan University study a few years ago asked teenagers in Israel about pornography use. Pornography use—one of the surest and quickest paths to secularization and sexual dystopia—was basically equal among religious and secular teens (about 80% or so). More surprising was that religious girls were almost twice as likely to be pornography users as secular girls (30% vs 15%). Rates of premarital sex, though lower among religious teens, are also somewhat surprisingly high given the intense self-isolation that many Orthodox communities in Israel have built for themselves over the years. I do think that Orthodox communities are aware that these contemporary problems have infiltrated even Fortress Orthodoxy, but I’m not sure that they’re coming to terms with the extent to which they have done so. High birthrates among religious Jews are often cited as evidence of a more Orthodox future, but that easily masks the secularization happening within the Orthodox community. The truth is that religiosity is much more a preserve of the human heart than an outward demonstration of a religious piety that doesn’t exist. A greater preponderance of yarmulkas and women’s headcovering doesn’t necessarily mean that Israel is becoming more religious, especially if the minds underneath those yarmulkas are fantasizing about whatever pornography they’ve been looking at lately. Judaism’s fixation on outward observe, though, makes it very easy for a basically totally secularized young person to wrap himself in a very thin vestige of religiosity that identifies him clearly as “Jewish.”

Because of Israel’s coalitional governing system, religious parties exert an almost overwhelming influence on the politics when they are in government. Indeed, religious Jewish parties currently hold only 21 of 120 seats in the Knesset, but because Bibi Netanyahu’s government would fall without their support, they hold a veto over any matters pertaining to religion and state. Israel’s ad hoc constitutional document—the Basic Law—says that Israel is to be a “Jewish and Democratic” state. When those two elements conflict—as they frequently do in a secularizing society—there is a great difficulty in deciding which element is given deference, and it usually depends on what the governing coalition looks like.

In the United States I think that Orthodox Jews are widely viewed in conservative Christian circles as natural allies in the battle against immoral intrusion by government into the lives of religious believers. I don’t know how true that really is, or whether Orthodox Jews feel the same way about conservative Christians. At least in Israel, Orthodox Jewish society and politics can actually be very hostile to Christians. One member of a modern Orthodox party recently suggested, for example, that the Israeli government should take revenge on Palestinians for terrorist attacks and that those opposing his suggestion—which includes, thankfully, the military—are blinded by a “twisted Christian morality” that is at odds with Jewish thought and the well-being of the country. Ultra-Orthodox political goals are generally oriented towards increased government subsidies of religious education, child cash credits, and preventing the draft of yeshiva students into the military. Ultra-Orthodox involvement in religion and state issues again tends to be most robust in opposing public transportation on Saturdays, fighting the opening of stores on Saturday, and, disturbingly, the sex-segregation of public bus lines. The modern Orthodox party just mentioned is mostly involved in funneling public funds into the building and sustenance of West Bank settlements as well as disempowering the judiciary, a favorite of right-wing parties all over the world at the moment. That is to say that an American conservative Christian would find the culture wars in Israel to be exotic and, frankly, absurd, especially when Israeli abortion laws are much more liberal than America’s (in Israel most abortions are funded by taxpayers).

In Israeli society there is broadly a fairly low regard for Christianity—really, though, most people are as clueless about it as Americans are about Islam or Judaism. The surveys I’ve seen, though, show that Orthodox Jews are far more hostile to the Christian community in Israel than secular Jews. Orthodox and Catholic priests are routinely spat upon by Orthodox Jewish yeshiva students, and there has been a spate of attacks against churches recently by far-right settler groups who deplore the presence of Christians, whom many Orthodox Jews regard as idol-worshippers. Orthodox Judaism—despite the generally naïve American conservative rhetoric about “Judeo-Christian values”—often comes across as more similar to fundamentalist Islam and its politicization and radicalization, than what you’d come across at your local trad Catholic parish or Evangelical megachurch. One survey from a few years ago was very instructive—when asked whether Judaism was more like Christianity or Islam, secular Jews said Christianity, religious Jews said Islam.

The truth is that we feel like a lot more “free” to be Catholics in super-secular Tel Aviv than we do in highly religious Jerusalem. Tel Aviv’s commitment to pluralism is generally extended to Christians and the political parties most invested in fighting for Christians—funding Christian schools, religious liberty, etc.—are left-wing anti-confessional parties. Yet, those same parties are also the most vigorously supportive of gay rights, unfettered access to abortion, and deep and pervasive secularism. It is a lot like American liberals’ striking embrace of Islam and Muslims in America despite the deep social conservatism of Muslims. Because American liberals are mostly concerned about muting traditionalist voices from Evangelical and Catholic circles, they afford themselves the luxury to boost Islam in the name of pluralism. And so in Israel left-wing parties’ support for Christians has more to do with a broader battle for pluralism.
Most Christians, the vast majority of whom are Arabs, vote for a pan-Arab political movement made up of Baathists, Islamists, and Communists. That is a vote that, frankly, mystifies me, especially given the general friction that exists between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims in society. Christians are a tiny minority of the population—about 2%–and so are very marginalized in the political process, even though in society they tend to be well-educated and fairly advanced economically.

I’ll conclude this admittedly long post by saying that it’s very hard to be a Christian in Israel, precisely because it’s an experience of being squeezed on both sides. Most religious Jews are wholly uninterested in having Christians populate the Jewish State, and they’re too busy worrying about pressuring restaurants to close on Saturday or funneling public monies into pet projects, to make important gains in areas like abortion, prostitution (which is legal in Israel), etc. On the other hand, the pressures of secularization are very, very strong, and it is as hard to remain faithfully Catholic in Tel Aviv as it is in San Francisco, despite the warmer welcome Christians might (or might not) have in Tel Aviv compared to major American liberal metropolises

#7 Comment By JonF On July 30, 2016 @ 7:34 am

Two differences that may obtain in foreign countries: Many countries still have a state church and this allows for intrinsic church-state complications and 2_) Most other cultures lack America’s rights-culture whereby things are often litigated in the courts on the basis of rights rather than debated in the legislature on much broader grounds. Neither of these mean than foreign Christians will have it better or worse than Americans, only that the situations will play out differently.
(Another fact that presents here in regards to employment issues: many foreign companies have very high unionization rates, and strong job protection laws on the books)

#8 Comment By Chris Rawlings On July 30, 2016 @ 9:25 am

For the sake of accuracy I have to point out that I said that secular and religious Jewish boys in Israel used pornography each at about a rate of 80 percent. I should say that the study summary I read actually did not stipulate the actual numbers for boys, only that religious and secular boys viewed porn at the same rate. But I suppose that is jarring enough.

#9 Comment By NEG On July 30, 2016 @ 9:39 am

Peter Leithart’s brief post about [1] (and the longer piece to which it links) is not exactly what you’re asking for, but it seems quite relevant.

#10 Comment By Paddywagon On July 30, 2016 @ 10:00 am

Uncle Chuckie’s were getting caught in the spam filter?

Sounds like it’s working just fine! 😉

#11 Comment By Mungling On July 30, 2016 @ 10:02 am

So I can speak to a little bit about life as an orthodox Catholic in Canada.

Politics

As a public force, conservative Christianity likely ceased to be a presence before I was born (1991). If Christianity as any effect or impact on the political discussion of the day. Christians tend to align themselves with the Progressive Conservatives but the PCs make no attempt at pandering to the tiny demographic of Christian supporters. Orthodox Christians are viewed as the “crazies” that the PCs need to muzzle. The PCs are typically center-right on economics and to the left on social issues. Here, at least, the culture wars are over with the undisputed victory going to the left.
What’s interesting is that the NDP and the Liberal parties (the other two, major political parties) have essentially said that their members must vote to continue for the unrestricted access to abortion (in Canada, there is no law restricting when someone may terminate their pregnancy) even in the few cases where such a restriction (e.g., against gender selective abortion) have wide public support. Essentially they have suggested that orthodox Christians aren’t welcome in their governments unless they’re willing to tow the party line. No one really cares though. Not only are there not enough Christians to raise a fuss, but people really aren’t too fond of orthodox Christians. So people largely think it’s a good think they aren’t in government.

Same-sex marriage was legalized over a decade ago and also has very widespread public support. The pride parade in Toronto is the closest one gets a religious celebration in Canada. Woe to the public figure who refuses to give anything but their full bodied to pride month!

Euthanasia just received an enthusiastic public endorsement (with the only grumbling coming from those who though the proposed laws were too restrictive). The media coverage around here was universally in favor. Not once did I hear a person opposed to euthanasia speak on the public radio. In fact, when our national broadcaster attempted any sense of balance, they would just get the person in favor of physician assisted suicide (by the way, the politically acceptable way to refer to this is now physician assisted death) to explain why people could possibly be in favor of restricting Euthanasia. Predictably, they didn’t do a good job.

Aside from these “hot button” issues, there isn’t much to cheer or jeer for orthodox Christians. As I said we’ve ceased to be a meaningful force for change and so why people may not like us, they also aren’t particularly worried about is. If a casual opportunity to spite orthodox Christians came along I’m sure Canada would do so enthusiastically, but otherwise… well… we’re protecting by our tiny size.

Faith Life

So for some context I converted to Catholicism from a secular family at the ripe old age of 13. I live in Northern Ontario, a rather large sized area with a population under 250,000. Growing up (both before and after my conversion), none of my friends were religious or went to Church. I knew of exactly one person in my elementary school who was religious and he was widely regarded as being weird for it. In high school that number went up to 2 or 3 (out of a school of 1,184). None of them were Catholic. So until I went to university I didn’t have anyone my age to support my faith life.

Congregations in the North are beyond grey. In my Church, myself included, I would say there are maybe 5 people under the age of 25, another 10 under 60, and the rest over 60. Of those youngsters I don’t anticipate any to continuing going to Church, although I of course might be wrong. I have a very real fear that in 30 years there will no longer be Catholic Churches to service large parts of Northern Ontario. Currently our diocese has zero (!!) vocations.

Outside of the North things are pretty much the same with exceptions of some of the larger immigrant communities. In Southern Ontario there are some fairly large Churches, although these tend to be Polish, Chinese, or Indian. When I moved to university there was a strong group of Catholic students and they were extremely diverse and multicultural.

The small size of orthodox Catholic community in Canada presents some problems. If you’re a campus group in Canada, and want to invite a speaker, you’ve basically got no options. The only “high profile” speaker I can think of (Michael Coren) recently converted to the Anglican Church of Canada for their more liberal stance on homosexuality. Otherwise you can import someone from the US or make do without. If you’re looking to get married, finding a partner within your faith community can be extraordinarily difficult (especially if you’re a woman). When I graduate from university in a year, I may do so as a single person. Where I live and work will have a dramatic effect on whether or not marriage is even an option (or, for that matter, whether other people in my age range who share my faith).

The Catholic community in the Southern Ontario seems, from my exposure, to be a tightly knit community of large, Catholic homeschooled families. They seem to all be highly involved with one another and may point towards the Benedict option. The number of families could probably be counted on your fingers and toes and is in an extremely local area. You often talk about having to make hard choices as a Christian in the future about where you live and work, and that reality is already here for Christians in Canada.

Freedom of Religion

As I’ve said, since orthodox Christianity is such a small force, there are typically no overt efforts at crushing us even if we’re typically held in disdain. That being said, where freedom of religion recently becomes an issue, Christians tend not to win out.

For example, you can look to the recent debacle surrounding the Trinity Western Law School. This is a small, private, orthodox Christian university that has typically produced strong students and high pass rates. No one questions their academic merit. However, as Christian university they require their students to agree to a covenant which would essentially agree to live as though they agree with the bounds traditional Christian sexual morality (e.g., no sex before marriage and, much more controversially, no homosexual romantic relationships). Again no one is forced to attend this school, and it’s a private university. Gay people are welcome to attend but if they do so they need to know that they’re going to a Christian university with Christian values. In response the various law societies of Canada have attempted to de-accredit the university for that covenant. Court challenges have carried the day for many, but not all, provinces in Canada (and, crucially, they can’t practice in Ontario which is the most populous province in Canada). Even where Trinity Western won out, people are largely opposed to them.

In healthcare is a mess. I was actually just accepted to medical school which is just about the most prestigious thing you can do out of university in Canada. One of the reasons I declined my invitation was out of concern for freedom of conscience. While doctors aren’t forced to do things like perform an abortion, or help someone kill themselves, or sterilize someone, they are required to participate in those forms of “healthcare” via referral. A lot of commenter’s will likely be upset that I don’t think conscientious objection should include a referral (that is, a deliberate effort to get a patient to a practitioner who will perform the service that you will not) but up until 2 years ago a referral wasn’t necessary in Ontario and, to the best of my knowledge, didn’t hurt anyone. Still, the country was upset that physicians were out there who would give birth control and so the college moved to rein them in. A good amount of Christian’s physicians have retired or moved over the decision. Younger ones walk a tight rope all the time, and don’t get much support from either their colleagues or their advocacy group. It is typically a very scary thing to be an orthodox Christian in medicine. Other healthcare groups are having similar concerns.

When it comes to Euthanasia, even Catholic healthcare facilities will likely be forced to provide access to Euthanasia out of concern for “access”. Typically there was no real effort to balance the ability of a healthcare facility with the “need” to provide access for people to kill themselves.

So overall, where Christianity has found itself on the “wrong side of history”, they will find themselves despised and they shouldn’t necessarily expect to have the right towards conscientious objection.

With that being said no one is coming into our churches, no one is trying to get the sermons of our pastors, and no one is is interfering with our ability to worship. I do know that a few years back a Canadian Bishop was sent to the human rights tribunal for saying that homosexual romantic relationships are sinful in the eyes of Catholicism. But that’s far from the norm. If you don’t have a high profile position (doctor, lawyer, academic, politician, etc.) you probably won’t be harassed. If you do have a more prestigious job there will likely be difficulties. People seem to be able to negotiate that challenge but it’s unclear to me how many people have done so by burning their pinch of incense.

#12 Comment By An Agrarian On July 30, 2016 @ 10:08 am

This will be an interesting thread, as I often hear American Christians ponder (having never traveled out of the US) where they might go for religious liberty … and NZ often comes up!

To NZ’s credit, at least they seem to consistently avoid perpetual warfare & the consequent blowback. And which of the western, post-Christian countries have a coalition of hawks & progressives lobbying for the conscription of women?

#13 Comment By Charles On July 30, 2016 @ 11:47 am

Hi Rod,
Hopefully this comment will make it through the new filters; my comments haven’t appeared for months.

Greetings from Canada. While a religious conservative element remains north of the border, we are largely viewed as oddities or throwbacks, and must fight to be allowed to live according to our beliefs and values. On the same-sex marriage front, any semblance of discussion has ceased, replaced by lawsuits, intimidation, and namecalling. Faithful Christians can no longer serve as marriage commissioners, as there is no option to decline to officiate at same-sex weddings. A charity in Ontario that cares for mentally challenged adults had to drop its morality code because a lesbian employee complained. The Knights of Columbus were fined for declining to let their hall be used for a same-sex marriage celebration. And the Conservatives’ response has been to outright embrace this, and bow before the Great God Progress:
[2]

Trinity Western University, a top-ranked academic institution, is in the middle of a nasty legal battle over their new law school. Professional organizations in several provinces are outright refusing to license any TWU grads to practice law, on the grounds that those students might be brainwashed into become homophobic theocrats. Although there have been some victories on that front, it will likely end up before the Canadian Supreme Court:
[3]

I work in Christian higher education, and I am fortunate to live in a community where I can raise my family to follow Jesus without much opposition. But our community is an oasis, and we know it. Outside the “bubble”, we are not welcome. One of my students transferred into a social work program at a secular university nearby, and transferred right back after getting a facefull of what happens when Christian social work students do anything other than smile and nod and obey their Progressive masters.

I love living here, but there are times when I find myself wistfully surveying the job boards to see if I can find any openings in my field south of the border.

[NFR: I’m sorry your comments haven’t appeared. That’s through no doing of mine. If this keeps happening, please e-mail me and I will see what I can do. Often it’s simply a matter of going into the spam bucket, doing a search for your name, hitting the restore button, and you can post freely again. — RD]

#14 Comment By Charles Cosimano On July 30, 2016 @ 12:03 pm

When servers get hit that bad all sorts of things happen.

[NFR: You’re not kidding. Not only do I find that your posts are still getting snared, but also some posts from regulars like Hector and William Dalton are turning up in the spam bucket — this, even though most of their posts sail right through. It’s going to take a while for this to calm down, it seems. Thanks for your patience. — RD]

#15 Comment By Fraternite On July 30, 2016 @ 6:04 pm

Edmonton, Canada here.

It’s not so bad once you internalize that you are a minority and accept that the cultural norms and values that you expect in your family and/or church community should be different from the norms promulgated in and by secular society.

But getting to that point is hard, because our intutions that Christian values are good for everyone (or should be good for everyone) die hard when faced with the conservative values of peace, order, and good government that characterize traditional Canadian conservatism.

It’s really hard crucifying the selfish desire that everyone should think the way that I do and recognizing that laws and policies in favour of (for example) abortion-on-demand are entirely appropriate for Canada, because those laws and policies *do* reflect the collective and democratic will of the people of Canada (as despicable as it may be).

If you can eventually get to a point where you recognise that you don’t live in a Christian nation and are a stranger walking in an alien land, you can then reconcile your identity as both a Christian and a conservative. Until you get there, though, you’re going to continue to wring your hands as the sky falls.

#16 Comment By Anne On July 30, 2016 @ 8:42 pm

Comments from readers in other countries will be interesting, but I think we know the US has long been more overtly religious than the rest of the English-speaking and/or industrialized world. That has to do both with our unique history and the way we’ve conceived religious liberty (as opening a sort of free marketplace of religions rather than as a way of keeping religion from impinging on secular life, or some would just say, as a “freedom for” religion rather than a “freedom from”), and that probably because we never had an officially established church to keep in its place, as it were.

Because of our unique history, I don’t think it’s really possible to look at, say, New Zealand or somewhere else, such as France, and say that’s what it will be like here in the near (or even far) future. When it comes to religion, the U.S is just very different.

#17 Comment By Michael On July 30, 2016 @ 9:18 pm

I also live in New Zealand and frankly, what else would you expect from the Human Rights Commission? I have absolutely no doubt that given the chance there would be no limit to what these people would do. My workplace has compulsory training days with the HRC and I’ve always remembered a quote from a hip (in the activist mode) 30 something instructor. She said
“There’s always one or two of you who out themselves, we always find out who you are”.
Her implication was that for reasons of faith or skepticism, genuine bigotry or even honest disagreement she will detect your recalcitrance. It was thus made perfectly clear that in her mind at least, disagreement was akin to heresy. Notes will be taken, should the terrifying day come where these people are actually given the authority to kick in doors and carry assault rifles I have no doubt they will do so.

Having said this the HRC is treated with contempt in the way that Health and Safety officials are treated with contempt. People see it as an unwelcome bureaucratic intrusion and it is my experience that this extends to matters of faith as well. It’s true that there is minimal public discourse regarding faith but then there are several Christian radio stations and 2 Christian TV channels (non state funded) so

It’s true that the popular is hostile to Christianity but then that’s probably the same throughout the west. Christians are one of the few safe targets these days and the media is no less adverse to bullying the victim, it’s a more acceptable victim. Yes the media, progressives, and the HRC hate us but ultimately if there is a problem with the Christian faith in New Zealand it’s with the lethargy of the Christian congregations themselves. I forget the exact words but I read something here a day or two ago that said if you want to know why Christian kids are so blase about their faith just look at the parents and to me that about sums it up. You can see something similar in falling birth rates, or maybe even in contemporary art. In a nutshell? We are too rich and too comfortable. A spur to commitment is required, personally I’m relying on my conscience pricking at me often enough enough to get me moving.

#18 Comment By Tyro On July 30, 2016 @ 9:36 pm

It’s not so bad once you internalize that you are a minority and accept that the cultural norms and values that you expect in your family and/or church community should be different from the norms promulgated in and by secular society.

The failure to internalize this is the source of a lot of problems we are having, these days. People’s sense of identity isn’t just from who they are, but their position as part of the central, dominant group that the public dialog and culture revolves around.

All that aside, for those of us who have a very strong sense of religious identity and practice, it is rather jarring to realize that many other people just go about their lives not thinking too hard about God or their role in the universe or these other questions. And then to realize that people are perfectly fine with that and live perfectly good lives that way.

#19 Comment By Rombald On July 30, 2016 @ 11:20 pm

I live in Japan. I’m not religious, but I’ve noticed that youngish, liberal-ish Japanese people, especially the outdoorsy, green types who I tend to associate with socially, tend to view Christianity positively, as being a religion of peace and love, rather like how many Westerners view Buddhism.

#20 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 30, 2016 @ 11:29 pm

Chris Rawlings,

Good luck with your move to Israel!

My understanding is that Israel was largely a ‘westernized’ country at its founding, since it was founded largely by Jews from western and central Europe. This is less true today, because of the influx of Middle Eastern Jews in the 1950s and 1960s, of ex-Soviet Jews in the 1990s, and the high birth rates among the ultra-Orthodox.

I do know that a few years back a Canadian Bishop was sent to the human rights tribunal for saying that homosexual romantic relationships are sinful in the eyes of Catholicism

Wasn’t that article of the human rights code struck down in 2013?

#21 Comment By JonF On July 30, 2016 @ 11:35 pm

I wonder if the fact that many Christians in the US made an alliance with the rightwing party will cause things to play out differently in the US than in Western Europe? In Europe Christianity has generally signed on to two of the Left’s major projects: the universal and comprehensive safety net (AKA, the welfare state) and the anti-nationalist, anti-war cause. That may help immunize European Christians from leftwing animus, especially since they are so few in no real position to cause any electoral trouble to the Left anyway– which is certainly not the case in the US as your piece on Evangelicals supporting Trump shows.

#22 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On July 30, 2016 @ 11:42 pm

This will be an interesting thread, as I often hear American Christians ponder (having never traveled out of the US) where they might go for religious liberty … and NZ often comes up!

New Zealand, for what it’s worth, is supposed to be (according to a survey I saw) the country with the most promiscuous women in the world. It’s the only country where women have a higher average lifetime number of sexual partners (16) than men, and also has the most liberal prostitution laws in the world. Plenty of room for social conservatives to make some converts….:)

We have huge problems with alcohol, drugs and domestic violence. The way we’ve treated our indigenous people and asylum seeks is a disgrace. That being said, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! By world standards, we are safe, free and prosperous.

Peter,

I was actually in your lovely country (for a couple work conferences) in April., And yes, I did notice that the press was full of chatter about the upcoming gay marriage referendum. It surprised me that gay marriage wasn’t legal already, in a country which seemed to be very liberal about sex in a lot of other ways.

For the record, though the climate was a bit warm for me, I absolutely loved the country, and would definitely move there if I ever got a job.

[NFR: The world’s most promiscuous women? But they have all those sheep… — RD]

#23 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On July 31, 2016 @ 3:34 am

In Italy the situation is not as bad but worsening rapidly.
Anti-family/anti-human laws are being passed every year. In the last couple of years we had fast divorce, parental potestas being converted into parental responsibility, gay civil unions.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are next.
Where the Parliament doesn’t reach, we have a very active judiciary. Our Costitutional Court stroke down almost all legal restrictions to IVF. Courts are systematically granting gay adoptions in special cases (e.g., stepchild adoption) even though it’s illegal, because adoption laws give a lot of freedom to judges to rule “in the best interest of minors” (which they interpret as “in the best interest of their ideology”).
I’d say that our worst problem is in the Church, with CINOs like our prime minister who are the main vehicle for the disease.
The real battlefront is in education. Last year the Education Ministry was forced to issue a letter to all publc schools stating that the “Gender Theory” is not part of the curricula.
However, this year they are trying to sneak it back through gender equality and anti-bullying regulations.
Pro-family associations are working hard to have the regulations purged from any hint to the “Gender Theory”.
On the positive side, In the society there is still a strong skepticism about anti-human ideologies.
Conscientious objection on abortion is under attack, but I don’t expect a big success there.
Abortion is generally loathed, and celebrities flaunting their abortions, such as Marina Abramovich, are generally despised, even by leftists. So is surrogate motherhood.
Many mayors have already declared that they aren’t going to celebrate civil unions, even though I suspect they will eventually comply, since this may entail the forceful dissolution of the City Council by the Government.
However, I’m afraid that those societal attitudes are only delaying, not stopping, the trend towards dissolution.

#24 Comment By mrscracker On July 31, 2016 @ 9:44 am

I sympathize with the ultra Orthodox Jews in Israel. I think they have the right to live according to their traditions. But one of my sons visited Israel recently and made the mistake of walking through an ultra Orthodox community on their Sabbath. Shoes were flung at him by the inhabitants.
My son was instructed by his Israeli walking companion to just pick up the shoes and throw them as far as he could in the opposite direction. It made the shoe’s owner have to go farther to retrieve them.
🙂

#25 Comment By Eric Todd On July 31, 2016 @ 11:18 am

In Spain the Conservative Party (Partido Popular) is slightly to the left of the American Democratic Party. They are ostensibly against abortion, which is subsidised by the State through a single-payer healthcare system, yet they will not really willing to go to battle against it. For now, our churches are free to preach the gospel fairly unencumbered and we have plenty of Christian radio stations. Church attendance amongst Spaniards is falling, but immigrants–Orthodox from the East and Evangelicals from mostly South America–are building churches. Still, I would say that being a practicing Christian in Madrid is probably more common than in New York City.

#26 Comment By KevinS On July 31, 2016 @ 1:38 pm

“The transgenders in schools controversy became a very major issue, and I think most Australians were deeply shocked. We are an easygoing people, and we hate unfairness, but to see Marxist ideology professed in schools was too much for people to stomach.”

Huh? I have read almost everything Marx wrote and I do not recall a single word about transgenderism. This issue has nothing to do with Marxism. But this a reflection of the tendency of many on the right to attach the “Marxist” label to any policy they do not like.

#27 Comment By Tyro On July 31, 2016 @ 3:05 pm

I think they have the right to live according to their traditions. But one of my sons visited Israel recently and made the mistake of walking through an ultra Orthodox community on their Sabbath. Shoes were flung at him by the inhabitants.

Herein lies the problem: your son wasn’t preventing them from living according to their traditions. The shoe throwers were just being jerks.

#28 Comment By mrscracker On July 31, 2016 @ 4:07 pm

Tyro:
“The shoe throwers were just being jerks.”
***************
Well, that actually was the opinion of my son’s Israeli companion, too.
I’ve only been to the Holy Land once many years ago. One thing that really stands out in memory is the lovely hospitality I found in Oriental Jews and Arabs.

#29 Comment By Brendan from Oz On July 31, 2016 @ 7:01 pm

“Huh? I have read almost everything Marx wrote and I do not recall a single word about transgenderism. This issue has nothing to do with Marxism. But this a reflection of the tendency of many on the right to attach the “Marxist” label to any policy they do not like.”

Perhaps Marxism outlived Karl Marx. From [4]

“The path to a paradisiacal future – as all good Marxists know – is through social revolution. And revolution comes from undermining communal structures, including relationships based on gender, family and nationality. Revolution is a necessary step on our path to the perfect world. If we have learnt anything from the past century, it is the endurance of the belief that a perfect world will emerge from chaos and crisis.”

#30 Comment By Brendan from Oz On July 31, 2016 @ 7:10 pm

Saying Australians are merely apathetic regarding SJW issues, it is remarkable how PC all our public commentary is, how quickly we threw going to Church away.

Say a non-PC thing in public, whether at work or in a mostly empty smoke-free pub, and look out! I remember many people telling me I was a fool for saying smoking would be banned in pubs. There’d be rioting in the streets! I was told.

Not even a whimper. Now most of the pubs are shut or converted to poker-machine gambling houses.

We are, as a nation founded as a prison, compliant with authority while always seeking to mess with it, often humorously.

But comedy seems to be banned in Australia – of all places, I mean we have mammals that lay eggs! – along with any reference to religion other than in multicultural terms.

My own favourite moment was Alice Cooper being interviewed by Andrew Denton, a known Lefty and Atheist, when asked about alcoholism being a disease and untreatable. Alice looked at him and said “Oh, there is no cure for alcoholism. I know that: this was a Healing. God Healed me.”

I have never seen Andrew Denton flummoxed before or since.

#31 Comment By Mark B On July 31, 2016 @ 8:14 pm

“Huh? I have read almost everything Marx wrote and I do not recall a single word about transgenderism. This issue has nothing to do with Marxism. But this a reflection of the tendency of many on the right to attach the “Marxist” label to any policy they do not like.”

The Safe Schools Coalition over here, which is the government program seeking to introduce Queer theory into schools, was designed by someone who was explicit that Queer theory is an application of Marxist thought. When that became public it helped create a backlash to the progamme (and increased its symbolic importance to the hard left).

Whether Queer theory and Marxism actually are linked is obviously up for debate. But here in Oz many of those who support the one support the other, and do see them as natural allies and possibly even intrinsically linked.

#32 Comment By Katjuscha On July 31, 2016 @ 10:25 pm

So… I’m an American who spent years in Germany, and was actually baptised into the Orthodox Christian Church there. Of my German & Russian peers, I was the only one who regularly went to church, and though some may have thought it was a bit odd, at least one chalked it up to, “Well, of course, that’s what all Americans do.”

There is a lot of cultural Christianity, at least in Bavaria, where the older generation still have funerals at church, and will often attend on Easter & Christmas, if not a couple of other times in the year. It is very common to see houses chalked each year with the initials of the Magi. Religion is still a requisite course in schools (the Orthodox Christians even winning the right to their own curriculum in the 1950s, but good luck finding a school that offers it). It’s been a few years, but when I was living there, there were still generally crosses & crucifixes in schools & hospitals, though I know those have been challenged in court. (The ironic thing being that with Bavaria, at least, this is where the populace drew the line against Hitler – he wanted the crosses removed & his picture in their place. Bavarian farmers in some places rioted until Hitler backed down.)

That being said, it’s very hard to be a “devout” Christian there, particularly if you have a family, and particularly if you have more conservative values than what is taught in the religion classes in school. Homeschooling is outlawed, and the state is able to use all sorts of “anti-Nazi” laws to neutralise any group that might be viewed as a troublesome sect, even if all that you are doing is trying to live your life and teach your children according to your values. (Basically, if the need arises, anti-Nazi laws can be used against any action the state doesn’t approve of.)

With younger people, from what I experienced, most aren’t religious at all, but still don’t want to give up many of the traditions that came from Christianity either. The country has been struggling with immigration woes for 30+ years now, with waves of Turks in the 1980s, Russians (most of some, at least tangential German heritage) and Eastern Europeans in the 1990s-2000s, and now this current wave. In that sense, I don’t know that a lot of people consider that there is necessarily a religious war being waged on German soil because the Germans, by and large, aren’t very religious. However, I think more and more people are getting fed up with being told that there is something wrong with being German (guilt from WWII), of which I think the turning point was about 2006, and of being told that they must give up a lot of “German” things – like the German sense of order, sense of hard work, sitting outside in the beautiful weather enjoying their biergartens, etc. – in order to bend over backwards to people who come to the country and don’t appreciate it.

#33 Comment By Edward Hamer On August 1, 2016 @ 5:24 am

Good morning from England,

We’re a mixed bag here really, but I wonder if the example of my wife’s family might be interesting.

My wife is one of six children born to a practising Catholic couple, who themselves were swept up in a rather misguided attempt at forming a lay Christian community during the 1980s and ‘90s. It seems to have degenerated into something of a personality cult based around a priest and much holier-than-thou-ism, with mixed results.

Of the six, only one has lapsed entirely, two are lukewarm, one is a practising but not madly traditional Catholic with a large family of his own, while my wife and her younger sister have both considered religious vocations before deciding to seek out husbands instead. This process has given them a good idea of the difficulty of meeting like-minded people to go out with and perhaps marry.

In Britain, if you’re a single woman looking to meet a Catholic or otherwise Christian man who won’t try to badger you into having sex before marriage, you’ve got your work cut out. Although there are a reasonable number of Catholics around who go to Mass sometimes, even the ones who use specifically Catholic dating sites (which is where I met my wife) are often uninterested in trying to be chaste. And as for avoiding contraception… Both sisters have tried meeting men at conferences organised by the Church for young people (Faith, Evangelium and so on), but they report that such places are full of nice, pretty Catholic girls desperately seeking decent men who don’t smell and know how to talk to a girl, and who aren’t religion nerds with no interests outside Fatima conspiracy theories. The few eligible ones then turn out on closer inspection to be seminarians.

I think this reflects two more general phenomena: 1) That to be a practising Catholic who actually, you know, practises is to be a member of a very small sub-culture, and small sub-cultures can attract slightly odd people and repel those who just want to make normal friends and marry someone normal while keeping the Faith; 2) Small sub-cultures cannot have much influence in the wider world unless they are really very attractive. The Catholic community (or the Christian community) needs to be an attractive thing, full of life and beauty and defending all those good things that are lacking in mainstream society if it is to attract newcomers. This means that being angry and misanthropic is deadly, and it also means that parents ned to raise young people (especially young men) who are just as socially adept and eligible as their atheist peers.

Perhaps my focus here has been too narrow, but I think it’s what happens “on the ground” that matters most. Given a generation of young men and women who keep the faith while also being competent and appealing people, and I think we could make headway; there is a great cultural and religious void waiting to be filled. The young women seem to be willing, but the young men appear to be very wanting.

#34 Comment By Mike Alexander On August 1, 2016 @ 7:36 am

This is a test of whether my posts go through now.

#35 Comment By mrscracker On August 1, 2016 @ 9:21 am

Mark B:
“Whether Queer theory and Marxism actually are linked is obviously up for debate. But here in Oz many of those who support the one support the other, and do see them as natural allies and possibly even intrinsically linked.”
***************************
I’ve read that the only things that stand in the way of a secular totalitarian state are the family & the Church. So possibly whatever might weaken the traditional family structure would enable more reliance on the state. Ditto for undermining the Church. Both are roadblocks to Marxism or similar movements success.

#36 Comment By John Mann On August 1, 2016 @ 12:03 pm

In the UK, there is no question that conservative (i.e. traditional) Christianity is looked upon with suspicion in the political arena. In the recent Conservative Party leadership election, two of the candidates were professing Christians, and both had, in the past, opposed same-sex marriage. Significantly, the way this was treated in public debate made it clear that their previous opposition to same-sex marriage was seen as problematical. Perhaps even more significantly, neither was prepared to stand up and say that they still thought that same-sex marriage was a bad idea. The implication is that a leading politician in the UK today cannot be opposed to same-sex marriage, even in the Conservative Party.

David Robertson, a blogger who writes from a conservative evangelical position (he’s a presbyterian minister) wrote a useful piece about the hostility faced by Andrea Leadsom in the leadership election. It’s well worth reading to get an idea of how conservative Christianity is perceived in the UK today: [5]

#37 Comment By TR On August 1, 2016 @ 12:07 pm

I hope your server catches any comments on political topics I make between now and the election. I’m embarrassed almost as soon as I post them.

The comments here, however, are absolutely first-rate. I intend to read each of them at least twice.

#38 Comment By mrscracker On August 1, 2016 @ 12:55 pm

John Mann ,
Thank you for the “Wee Flea” link. It’s comforting to know there are still voices like that among the “Frozen Chosen.” (The blogger’s name is also 2/3’s of my late brother’s name.)
It’s not often we hear much that’s encouraging from Presbyterians in the States.
I did read a wonderful book “For the Glory” about Eric Liddell. If there are Presbyterian saints, he’s got to be on that list. Just an incredible Christian witness.

[6]

#39 Comment By Irishman On August 3, 2016 @ 12:34 pm

Ireland calling.

I’m not a Christian but I am an ally.

The situation in (Republic of)Ireland is mixed for Christians. The process of secularisation and the discrediting of the church is perhaps familiar to many around the world but the difference in Ireland is the speed by which it happened. As late as 1995 divorce was not allowed and it was only barely legalised in a referendum. The aggressiveness of the left shifted into higher gear following the financial crisis. The labour party came to power and to balance its support for austerity it has forced the government to be aggressively anti-catholic. I didn’t see this coming before the 2011 election when they came to power but it’s important to understand that we in Ireland and the UK are heavily influenced by American politics. Whatever political fads the american left thinks up spread like a virus here eventually. For example the media increasingly uses the word undocumented to describe illegal immigrants and we’re told we have a rape culture in our universities.

Whenever the government faced a choice it sided against the Church. It closed the Vatican embassy and singled out catholic service organisations such as the marriage organisation accord for cuts. The pretext was austerity but given its lavish funding for secular left organisations this is nonsense and understood to be nonsense.
The other major agenda is schools and hospitals. Most schools and hospitals in Ireland are church organised. In hospitals this has minimal consequence and schools rarely have clergy as staff members. The government goal was to secularise half the Catholic schools.
The interesting thing has been the response. The closure of the vatican embassy and prime minister Enda Kenny’s(he leads a david cameron type centre-right party that is in coalition with labour) hysterical damnation of the church’s response to the child abuse investigation clearly meant they were further than their voters. The Vatican embassy was re-opened in 2014 when money was still tight. There school agenda has also largely hit the buffers. They have made barely any progress secularising schools because of parental opposition. I think this cost the centre right votes but there has been no significant organised pushback. The election in 2016 led to the collapse of the labour party(yippee) and the new minority centre right seems to be changing tack. Instead of secularising schools the are trying to de-catholicing Catholic schools. I think they will be more successful here. This is where Irish people are. Less religion but not none(yet).

A gay marriage referendum in 2015 was one cry-bully extraveganza but in reality a side-show. Abortion is where the action is. The Irish establishment dearly wants legal abortion. They view the right to life as an embarrassment and a symbol of catholicism. This is the stalingrad of Irish catholicism. There will likely be a referendum in the next few years. If the religious segment win and enter the political process more assertively thereafter there is a real chance Ireland will not go the way of the rest of europe. I go to two masses a year when members of my family are commemorated and it doesn’t skew radically older than the rest of the population and the pews are reasonably full but there is a dire shortage of priests. My mother who is a regular at mass says people start to go again when they have kids(a sure sign of vitality). We have touches of the human rights culture but their progress is patchy and the same people who would gladly legalise abortion are turning against them because of their increasingly strident economic leftism. Ordinary people do not think less of people for their faithfulness so I think this is a major plus for Ireland relative to peer countries.

In Northern Ireland the peace agreement was used by the UK labour government as an excuse to use NI as a guinea pig for every left wing rights culture that can be thought of. But religious society nonetheless is stronger there than in GB or ROI. I suspect Derry to be the most religious christian city in Europe.

#40 Comment By Irishman On August 3, 2016 @ 12:39 pm

This article describes a manifestation of the de-catholising of catholic schools in Ireland.

[7]

#41 Comment By Lukasz On August 4, 2016 @ 6:16 am

Despite the fact the the invitation to share experiences was extended to those living in the countries rather obsessed with leftist cultural revolution, I’d like to write about something more hopeful.

I come from Catholic Poland, but I myself am an Orthodox Christian and currently I live in UK. Nevertheless, I am very much in touch with what’s going on in my country and in many aspects these things seem to be the opposite of the changes in other Western countries. Young Poles are much more conservative than their parents and grandparents, turning to Church and faith for the meaning of live. And it very much influences our politics. Last year parliamentary elections resulted in a conservative party coming to power, but that’s not even the most important result: because of ever younger generations voting this was the first time in modern history of Poland that the leftist parties, largely descended from former communist establishment, didn’t make it into the parliament at all!

The liberal media that dominate our media market are increasingly judged as manipulative and propagandistic by the society and there are lots of grass-roots initiatives aiming at providing more balanced journalism. Soon a citizens’ project (supported by over a million of citizens in 38 million Poland) of a more strict abortion law will be discussed in our parliament and there is a great pressure on the conservative government to vote in its favor (the new regulation would outlaw abortion entirely leaving only the freedom to save mother’s life if it’s directly threatened by the child). Same-sex marriage is out of the question. At the same time although the new government likes to present itself as Catholic and the officials often attend public religious events, the Church seems to have taken a much more humble stance securing it from being accused of directly influencing the government. And the Church slowly transforms from the organization ruled top-down, to a grass root movement with strong initiative of laypersons.

Overall, there’s hope, guys, not everything everywhere undergoes degeneration. And it hasn’t been so obvious 10-15 years ago that Poland will look like that today.