This last month the SCOTUS decided, yet again, to circumvent legislative power to validate Progressive notions of gender and sexual orientation, and imposed an immoral set of ethics and morality upon the nation. As First Things' Rusty Reno has pointed out, now that transgenderism and sexual “orientation” are included among the protected classes of the Civil Rights Act's anti-discrimination language, religious people who decide to apply their principles at work could either be fired as an employee or sued as private business owners. It could also compel employees to be silent when others attempt to equate “gay marriage” with the traditional and sacramental concept of marriage or when individuals claim that they can change their biological sex, and that they should be encouraged to do so by others. Lastly, it could mean that people who reject the tenets of modern queer theory where a person’s personal pronouns are based on their “chosen” gender, will be fired for “dead-naming” or “misgendering” people. In short, in the name of “anti-discrimination,” the Bostock case, just like the equally wrong Obergefell, Engel, and Griswold cases, has empowered the State to use its massive bureaucracy to discriminate against religious Americans.
At the same time however, two “religious liberty” cases saw “victories.” In Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru the SCOTUS ruled that “certain employees of religious schools, hospitals and social service centers can’t sue for employment discrimination.” Furthermore, in a follow up case involving the Little Sisters of the Poor, “the court upheld the Trump administration’s allowance for a broad religious or moral exemption from the Obama-era Affordable Care Act's requirement that employers provide free contraception.” The common denominator with these two cases however is that so long as one is working directly for or with a religious organization, one can be held accountable to or remain faithful to the orthodox teachings of that religious institution.
What to make of this?
Columnist David French has called this something of a victory for religious conservatives and that Christians should take heart. Writing for TIME French wrote that, “The court is extending nondiscrimination protections in secular spaces while blocking targeted discrimination against people of faith and also expanding the autonomy and liberty of religious organizations.” In a piece for Christianity Today, Daniel Bennet echoes this sentiment by stating that, “While defenders of religious freedom have reason to be more concerned after Bostock than before, there is more reason for optimism. Case after case in recent years—Hosanna-Tabor, Hobby Lobby, Holt, Trinity Lutheran, Masterpiece Cakeshop—have protected religious exercise. There is no reason to believe the court is poised to roll back protections for religious liberty. If anything, the appetite exists to expand them.”
While French and Bennett are correct that the protections Christians enjoy in this country have been augmented and reinforced with every recent Supreme Court decision as of late, they elide a glaring caveat to this judicial “largess.” These protections have only been happening in the context of shrinking religious millets that have been carved out by and for dhimmified Christians, while the rest of America converts to the state’s religion of Progressive Liberalism.
In this context, millet was a term used by the Ottoman Empire during and after the 15thcentury, to describe the communities of their heterogenous subjects such as Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, and Jews. While these communities amounted to a sort of religious ghetto, its inhabitants were allowed, within the limits strictly proscribed by their Muslim overlords, a level of “self-government” and the right to live separately and “independently” under their rules regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance and personal property rights.
Those who lived under those strict limits were called Dhimmis which came from an Arabic word that was used to describe the protected classes of Christians & Jews that were conquered in Jerusalem in the 7thcentury. According to the Pact of Umar, signed by the Second Arab Caliph in 637 A.D., non-Muslims under Islamic rule promised to worship discretely and to restrict their activities such as not displaying crosses or Bibles, worshiping too loudly, or trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. In short, Christians and Jews were ghettoized and their ability to publicly promote or take pride in their faith was strictly forbidden. In exchange, Christians were granted the right to continue to live and permitted a circumscribed “freedom” of worship.
What this meant was that in both the Millet system of the Ottomans and the Dhimmi system of the Arabs, non-Muslims were seen as second-class citizens, or as historian Philip K. Hitti pointed out, “raya”, i.e.cattle or sheep to be sheared and exploited. Unfortunately this meant that non-Muslims were often subject to the whims and caprice a dominant Islamic culture or malevolent Muslim rulers who would periodically abnegate the terms of the Pact of Umar or the Millet system and engage in violence towards the Christians and Jews under their rule.
How does that relate to our situation right now?
We are living in a time when the rights of religious people are being preserved within strictly proscribed limits—only in, among, and usually directly working for religious institutions. At the same time, those who have not allowed their lives to be corrupted by the religion of Progressive Liberalism, are utterly and thoroughly prevented by law from being able to peaceably, truthfully, and wholly live their lives as citizens of this Republic. This can clearly be seen in the massive harassment and bullying campaign by Progressive Liberal zealots who are trying to drive Jack Phillips, the Little Sisters of the Poor, or any other faithful Christian, Jew, & Muslim to their knees.
They are told that they may practice their religion only in their church, synagogue, mosque or religious hospitals and schools. Meanwhile, they are told that they cannot openly practice their religion in public schools and universities, in the federal bureaucracy,a publicly traded corporation, a small business, or anywhere else where unless they are willing to throttle their beliefs. They must either be silent or be willing to publicly praise homosexuality, no-fault divorce, pornography, gender theory, queer theory, Black Lives Matter, or any of the sundry streams within our new Progressive Liberal State Religion, or they will not keep their job or status for long.
The question is, will religious Americans submit to this modern Millet System? Will they passively allow themselves to be Dhimmified? Is this the Benedict Option or is this our path to extinction? People forget that Christian communities under Muslim rule, with a few notable exceptions, disappeared over time. This was because Muslims practiced a kind of“soft-totalitarianism” throughout the Middle Ages, in that they didn’t (usually) go out of their way to force Christians to choose between conversion to Islam or death. Indeed, many Christians were willing to choose money and prestige over their faith and were richly rewarded by their Muslim masters for doing so. Instead the Millet and Dhimmi systems worked slowly but inexorably to pressure Christians into choosing between having maximum freedom and status as a Muslim convert, and making them feel their second class status and making it more expensive to practice their faith by taxing them with the Jizya tax for remaining Christian or Jewish.
Our new Progressive Liberal State Church acts in the same way. They won’t force Christians, Jews or Muslims today to choose between their religion or death. Instead, they will make it a little bit harder and more expensive to live it out. They will force them to make small compromises and encourage the less scrupulous among them to pretend and insist that their traditional faith(s) are fully compatible with fornication, adultery, homosexual sex, and all the other dogmas and doctrines of the Liberal State Church.
I don’t want this for myself or for my family. The only way to stop it is for us to act up, and to show that “neutral” public space is anything but neutral. To point out time and again that the “neutral” state discriminates against religious believers. It is also time for us to work together, to patronize each other’s businesses, to promote our own fellow believers in the struggle against the dictatorship of relativism. Even if the Left wins and manages to drive us from the public sphere completely for some unforeseen time, we must never fully accept the illegitimate rule of those who reject natural and divine law.
Photo Credit- New York Times