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The New Theocrats Are Neither Conservative Nor Christian

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But 2019 may be remembered as the year theocracy went mainstream.

Last week, the Catholic convert and New York Post opinion editor Sohrab Ahmari published a long essay at First Things demanding that conservatives abandon their commitments to tolerance and civility. Instead, Ahmari wants his side to "fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good." Bizarrely, he takes National Review's David French, a civil libertarian former litigator, as the face of the old, soft conservatism at which his guns are aimed.

While it's lamentably thin on specifics, the guiding principle behind the Ahmari program is clear: Americans have become an immoral people—unchurched, "pornographized," overly consumerist, and insufficiently loyal to our fellow countrymen—and government force needs to be employed to correct them. That second point is key: The problem with "French-ism," Ahmari writes, is its "great horror of the state, of traditional authority and the use of the public power to advance the common good, including in the realm of public morality."

To say the First Things essay has been controversial would be to miss its significance as a watershed for the American right, where an internecine conflict has been brewing for some time. Much of the response to Ahmari has focused on his denunciation of French for being overly polite toward those with whom he disagrees. But the real issue is substantive, not stylistic: It's a schism between people who want to use the law to forcibly restore America's Judeo-Christian character and those who don't.

Catholic integralism—the idea that Church teachings should guide public policy—is not new. Ahmari doesn't label his anti-Frenchist alternative as integralist, though he isn't far off when he says the political right should be willing to use politics "to enforce our order and our orthodoxy." But mostly he speaks of orienting society to the common good. Who could be against that?

The problem hardly needs stating: What is meant by the common good? Progressives too believe their policies are morally correct—hence the common refrain that it's just wrong for bakers and florists to refuse to provide their services for gay weddings. And the disagreement isn't only between partisans of the left and right. The fiercest culture wars are playground disputes compared to the actual wars that have been fought over doctrinal differences among conservative Christians.


Ahmari also wishes to use government power to constrain people's freedom. Thus, he is advocating an illiberal conservatism—a rejection of the right's longstanding fusion of social traditionalism with staunch respect for individual rights.

My colleague Robby Soave and countless others have already pointed out that this would be a catastrophic unforced political error on the part of conservatives. Classical liberal values and institutions offer a robust bulwark against the worst excesses of the illiberal left. Do Ahmari et al. actually think the system that gave us the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling is so broken as to justify setting the whole thing ablaze? More to the point, do they really believe that what follows after the smoke clears will be better for religious traditionalists?


The small beginnings of a real-world Gilead?  What say the conservative Christians on this very forum? Is Mr. Ahmari speaking truth to power, that is truly is time for conservatives to abandon their commitments to tolerance and civility,  all for restoring the common good?


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Interesting.  Thinking about this, SF remembers his father's mantra - "Love the sinner, hate the sin".  Whatever I (or any other christian for that matter) consider to be sin, we cannot let that (opinion) overtake our love for our neighbor and turn into hate.  BUT - I certainly don't think the government should be the entity upon which this should fall to be enforced, nor should there be a "law" to that effect.


Jamilah Salvador was walking in her first ever Pride parade this weekend in the Philippines when she came across something unexpected at the finish. Christians were holding signs apologizing for ways the religion had hurt the LGBTQ community.


The 19-year-old was marching with thousands of others in the annual parade in Marikina City, east of the country's capital, Manila. The parade came to a close at Marikina Stadium, where Salvador was pleasantly surprised by the Christian group.

"My heart really felt light upon seeing them," Salvador told CBS News. "I stopped when I saw them and read all of their messages and immediately felt goosebumps all over my body, then my tears started to build up."

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

The main banners held by the group listed the ways "Christians harmed the LGBT community," including statements, such as "I've rejected and hurt your family in the name of 'family values.'" The other individual signs varied with messages like, "God loves you, so do we," and "I used to be a Bible-banging homophobe Sorry!!"

Salvador said, "people absolutely loved" the group's display, explaining that many marching in the parade had intense reactions to the messages. The teenager told CBS News that some "started bursting into tears upon seeing the signs. Some hugged and talked to these Christians. Some took photos, like what I did, and others just stood there in awe."

The photos that Salvador snapped and then posted on Twitter quickly went viral, along with other attendees images.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

The group who brought the signs to the parade is from the Church of Freedom in Christ Ministries (FICM), an Evangelical and Pentecostal church in Makati, Philippines, reports BuzzFeed News.

The church's pastor, Val Paminiani, said that he has been going to Pride parades for around four years as a part of the organization's "I'm Sorry" campaign.

Paminiani told BuzzFeed News, "We are apologizing for the way Christians have hurt the LGBT community, especially by using the Bible in condemning and judging them."

The pastor continued that, "I used to believe that God condemns homosexuals, but when I studied the Scriptures, especially the ones that we call 'clobber Scriptures' that are being cherry-picked from the Bible to condemn LGBT people, I realized that there's a lot to discover, including the truth that God is not against anyone. God does not discriminate against people based on gender."

Paminiani stated that he hopes other Christians will not utilize Scriptures to condemn the LGBT community, because it is keeping people from participating in the church and from Jesus, according to BuzzFeed News.

"We pray that more and more Christians will act, speak, and love the LGBT people like Jesus would," he said.

If Salvador's reaction is any indication that the pastor's campaign is impacting the community some Christians condemn, this church is fulfilling its mission tenfold.

Certainly is the way Christians SHOULD be acting.  FTR - "The Religion" didn't hurt the LGBTQ community.  Christians (who were not living up to the standards of Christ's teachings) did.  In the end, it is not you or I who determines who makes it into heaven.

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