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Quashing Religion For Humanity’s Sake

Writing in The Guardian, Deborah Orr affirms that men will never be free until the pious are bound and gagged with the entrails of the last priest. Or something like that:

For human rights to flourish, religious rights have to come second to them. We are all human. We are not all of the same religion, or religious at all. One cannot protect religious rights if they are used as a reason to abuse human rights, human equalities, as so often they are. Britain may not be able to export its new-found anti-discriminatory zeal to the rest of the world with much ease. But Britain is in a good position to start working out a framework whereby people with diverse beliefs can live together without conflict, safe in the knowledge that the religious beliefs of all who respect human rights will be respected in turn. People need to answer on Earth to our fellow humans. We can square things with our God, if we have one, when and if that day arrives. Compliments of the season, whatever that means to you.

Ah. I see. Well, what does “human flourishing” mean? Who decides? On what basis do we determine that? Who defines “human rights”? So many unexamined assumptions here. Here’s something from Stefan McDaniel’s review of James Kalb’s complex and philosophical book The Tyranny Of Liberalism:

Kalb begins by defining liberalism, which he understands as the belief that the ruling imperative of politics is to achieve equal freedom by “rational” means. To be rationally administered (that is, administered through ­markets or government bureaucracy), freedom must mean the license valued by a preference utilitarian, excluding all reference to goods transcending individual human desire. Liberal practices, institutions, and ideas therefore lead to the destruction or trivialization of all communal and religious life. Liberalism justifies itself by identifying its controlling (utilitarian) concept of rationality with the technical rationality that has yielded so much fruit in the modern scientific project. Capitalizing on the prestige of modern science, liberal discourse excludes nonliberal views of the proper organizing principles of society as self-evidently irrational.

But despite its current dominance and apparent impermeability to critique, Kalb thinks there are many good reasons to believe that liberalism is ultimately doomed. For instance, it cannot achieve or even intelligibly describe the state of equal freedom to which it constantly aspires, and it must therefore end (despite its claim to total rational transparency) by justifying its policies through dogmatic, coercive irrationalism; liberal societies could not survive without the nonliberal forms of association that liberalism corrodes (especially the Church and family); liberalism’s insistence on rationality and open debate makes it especially vulnerable to critiques it cannot answer; men find the liberal exclusion of transcendence intolerable in the long term and will rebel.

From the book itself:

So dominant is liberalism that it becomes invisible. Judges feel free to read it into the law without historical or textual warrant because it seems so obviously right. To oppose it in any basic way is to act incomprehensibly, in a way explicable, it is thought, only by reference to irrationality, ignorance, or evil. The whole of the nonliberal past is comprehensively blackened. Traditional ways are treated as the simple negation of unquestionable goods liberalism favors. Obvious declines in civility, morality, and cultural achievement are ignored, denied, or redefined as advances. Violence is said to be the fault of the persistence of sex roles, war of religion, theft of social inequality, suicide of stereotyping. Destruction of sex and historical community as ordering principles–and thus of settled family arrangements and cultural forms–is presented as a supremely desirable goal. The clear connection among the decline of traditional habits, standards, and social ties; the disintegration of institutions like the family; and other forms of personal and social disorder is ignored or treated as beside the point.

Deborah Orr’s liberalism has become invisible. She mistakes it for the obvious truth. Anyway, this is what’s coming: traditional religion must be boxed in and suppressed for the sake of Humanity. We have been here before.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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