The Week (US)

The reli­gious right: Re­con­sid­er­ing democ­racy?

- U.S. News · Religion · Discrimination · Politics · Human Rights · Society · Donald Trump · New York City

An­guished by their de­feats in the cul­ture wars, some reli­gious con­ser­va­tives are be­gin­ning to won­der “whether lib­eral democ­racy’s time has passed,” said Adam Ser­wer in TheAt­ In a re­cent ar­ti­cle in the reli­gious jour­nal First Things, Catholic writer Sohrab Ah­mari bluntly ac­cuses lib­er­tar­ian-lean­ing con­ser­va­tives of en­abling lib­er­als’ degra­da­tion of American so­ci­ety. Too many con­ser­va­tive in­tel­lec­tu­als, Ah­mari ar­gues, have pas­sively ac­cepted the Left’s vic­to­ries on is­sues such as same-sex mar­riage and trans­gen­der rights out of a mis­guided con­cern over “ci­vil­ity” and in­di­vid­ual lib­erty—leav­ing the Chris­tian-based moral or­der tee­ter­ing on the edge of to­tal de­struc­tion. Con­ser­va­tives must “fight the cul­ture war with the aim of de­feat­ing the en­emy,” he writes, im­pos­ing their world­view on the coun­try by any means nec­es­sary, so as to serve “the High­est Good.”

Ah­mari has a point, said Ben Domenech in The Fed­er­al­ Pro­gres­sives are “bent on ut­ter and to­tal de­struc­tion of ev­ery­thing American Chris­tians hold dear,” in­clud­ing even their right to ex­press their “of­fen­sive views” in pub­lic. It’s time for so­cial con­ser­va­tives to ac­cept that “we have reached a point in Amer­ica where po­lite­ness and de­cency is no longer the best ap­proach to pol­i­tics.” That’s why so many Chris­tians have em­braced Trump’s “more bru­tal ap­proach” to pol­i­tics. Sorry, but if con­ser­va­tives go down this path, they’re just as bad “as the left­ists they dis­dain,” said Steven Green­hut in Rea­ Ah­mari doesn’t say ex­actly how he would im­pose his vi­sion of moral­ity on the coun­try. But “one needn’t take too many leaps to see where this pop­ulist-reli­gious con­ser­vatism is headed.”

I’m flum­moxed by this de­bate, said Michelle Gold­berg in The New York Times. Con­ser­va­tives con­trol the pres­i­dency, the Se­nate, and the Supreme Court, and Trump is in­stalling dozens of far-right Chris­tian judges in fed­eral courts. Nev­er­the­less, so­cial con­ser­va­tives “feel apoc­a­lyp­ti­cally em­bat­tled.” It’s worth not­ing that Ah­mari started this de­bate af­ter be­ing trig­gered by an ad­ver­tise­ment for a Drag Queen Story Hour for chil­dren at a pub­lic li­brary—an event he called “de­monic.” Do Chris­tians re­ally face an ex­is­ten­tial threat be­cause drag queens are no longer uni­ver­sally re­viled? What re­ally in­fu­ri­ates Ah­mari and peo­ple like him is that he now has to live in a so­ci­ety where his so­cial and reli­gious views no longer dic­tate how other peo­ple live. “When one is ac­cus­tomed to priv­i­lege, equal­ity feels like op­pres­sion.”

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