I grew up in the north New Jersey suburbs with parents who’d gone to Catholic school in the 1960s. They didn’t enjoy the experience, mostly from fright of the nuns, who physically abused students. They vowed never to send my brother or me to Catholic school, but we were baptized and did have to go to Sunday school—“CCD,” we called it. It was the only time I ever went to church, outside of weddings or funerals.
We weren’t practicing Catholics. I can’t ever recall us attending church services. We didn’t give things up for Lent. We ate meat on Good Friday. Basically, we were part of the Christmas and Easter club. Once all the molestation scandals broke, my parents completely gave up on the Catholic Church. I stopped going to CCD and never made confirmation.
Fast-forward about 20 years. I’ve come to this political, conservative awakening and I’m starting to question everything. I keep hearing the phrase “Judeo-Christian values.” It’s clear to me the Left is doing everything they can to attack religious people, except of course Muslims, but religion still didn’t resonate with me. Then one story in particular caught my attention and pushed me back into religion.
Senators Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin, Democrats from leftist havens California and Illinois, questioned one of President Trump’s judicial nominees, Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett, who is now confirmed. The senators referenced a law review article Barrett, a practicing Catholic, had written in the ’90s.
In it she argued that if a Catholic judge believed his faith would preclude him from ruling objectively in a capital punishment case he should recuse himself in favor of another judge without such a moral conflict. In other words, Barrett was arguing that judges should avoid allowing their faith to distort their rulings on legality. Here is how the senators interpreted Barrett’s position:
‘When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,’ Feinstein said. ‘And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.’
Durbin, meanwhile, criticized Barrett’s prior use of the term ‘orthodox Catholic,’ saying it unfairly maligns Catholics who do not hold certain positions about abortion or the death penalty. ‘Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?’ he asked her outright.
Could this be more discriminatory? Could you imagine being asked about your religious beliefs during any other interview setting? I’m old enough to remember when it was considered immoral to question whether Barack Obama’s 20-year patronage at Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s radical church could have influenced his ideas. But now it’s acceptable to imply that a woman’s Catholic faith should disqualify her from serving as a judge?
I couldn’t help but think: what are Democrats so scared of? There was only one way to find out. I had to go back to church to see what all the fuss was about.
What I’ve Learned Going Back to Church
Religious people believe no mere mortal is flawless or pure, only God is. We recognize that we are born flawed and must consistently work to become better people; no one has it all figured out. We value all life equally. We band together to help others in our community who are in need. This is all largely consistent with my political beliefs of limited government; it’s the reason I’m a conservative.
There’s something refreshing about admitting you don’t have all the answers, about acknowledging your imperfections. Putting religion aside, realizing we are all works-in-progress allows you to forgive yourself when you screw up and to stop comparing yourself to your peers, who are no more perfect than you are. However, for Democrats, a party that frequently implies “they know better,” religion is a serious impediment to acquiring the power they need to impose their beliefs on others.
The attack on Barret’s faith was not an isolated incident, but part of a larger pattern. The Obama administration regularly referred to our First Amendment right to freedom of religion as “freedom of worship,” narrowing the freedom to practice our faith freely to only being allowed to do so in worship services. In her 2016 concession speech, Hillary Clinton did the same. This was no accident. The implications should terrify all Americans, believers and non-believers alike.
When they replace “religion” with “worship,” the Left means, “Sure, you can go to church, but don’t you dare bring those beliefs outside the confines of that building. Don’t you dare allow those beliefs to govern your behavior outside of your place of worship.” This eviscerates the ability to live consistently with one’s beliefs, whether religiously inspired or not.
In June, Sen. Bernie Sanders grilled Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, about his Christian beliefs, referring to them as, “indefensible, hateful and Islamophobic.” There’s typical leftist logic: they’re the most tolerant people in the world so long as you think exactly the same way as they do.
How Religion Threatens the Left
Famed economist Thomas Sowell regularly writes about two opposing worldviews: the unconstrained vision and the tragic, or constrained, vision. In the unconstrained vision, people are viewed as good by nature. Crime and immorality are explained away by environment.
If someone commits murder, it’s more important to determine what about the world drove him to kill than to punish the killer for the harm he has done. As you might imagine, this is how people on the Left view the world. In the tragic vision, people are seen as flawed by nature. We’re often driven by our impulses. Laws are seen as critical in deterring crime and protecting innocent people. Clearly, this is how those on the Right think.
What does this have to do with religion? Jews and Christians believe in one God. We believe all humans are created in God’s image and seen as equal in his eyes. We believe we are born into sin and that only God is perfect, only he has the answers. If you’re a leftist, this is a serious problem, because it undermines their political power.
According to the Left, people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, by virtue of their Ivy League degrees and “woke” beliefs, know better than the rest of us how to live our lives. They are seen as selfless, infallible, virtuous leaders who are simply trying to make the world a better place.
Therefore, they deserve to have all the power. Why would the average person want control over his or her life? We’re dummies. Most of us didn’t go to Harvard or Yale universities. It’s a good thing that President Obama consistently abused his office to force his beliefs upon us because, after all, his intentions are so pure.
As absurd as this line of thinking may seem, many people around the world buy into it. Some do because they don’t know any better, many because they simply do not want control over their own lives. They want to be told what to think. That way, if things don’t turn out the way they want, they can blame someone else.
Religious people, however, fundamentally reject these ideas. If Democrats continue their flagrant infringement on Americans’ right to religious freedom, and no doubt they will, expect to see religious people vote as a bloc going forward, as many reliable church-going Democrat voters defect to the Republicans.