Jon Meacham has his ignorance on display again in Newsweek. The article is proclaiming the End of Christian America. Of course Jon litters the article with his own opinion.
I think this is a good thing—good for our political culture, which, as the American Founders saw, is complex and charged enough without attempting to compel or coerce religious belief or observance.
The End of Christian America is a good thing according to Jon Meacham, but is his opinion informed, or is he as reckless in this belief as he is in his scholarship and books. The answer is obvious, he is completely misinformed, misunderstanding, and missing the boat.
I will start with misinformed, and the above quote is a good place to start. Have Christians in America tried to force religious belief? Or even observance? Of course not. Trying to outlaw abortion or stop gay marriage cannot by any stretch of the imagination be seen as forcing religious belief. Protecting people that cannot protect themselves is not forcing religious belief. But, for some reason Meacham thinks that this is what is going on in America. Not surprisingly Meacham is also misinformed about history. He has proven this over and over in his books, but he wants us to really see how stupid he is. Meacham's inability to tell the difference between a Christian Nation and a nation in which Christianity is the warp and woof destroys almost every argument he has ever made. Meacham tries to show some places where he believes Christians have overstepped and forced religious belief. He cites Prohibition, which may have had some Christian support, but failed because it was decidedly anti-Christian. Jesus himself would have had to been arrested since he used alcohol. Hardly was the Christian world united behind Prohibition, which was just as much driven by those who thought the state could fix the world, Progressives, not exactly a Christian haven. Meacham also cites evolution. Here he thinks Christians have argued that evolution not be taught in schools, and in fact they did . . . in 1920. However, now Christians are just asking that evolution not be taught as fact and that maybe alternate theories can have a place in the school room too. Meacham sees no problem with Evolutionists enforcing their belief on Christians, but thinks Christians should not have the right to have their belief mentioned. Yet, Meacham cannot see this obvious flaw at all. Meacham wants toleration, except of course for tolerating Christians or at least Creationism. Then abortion is mentioned as if being against murder is something only a "fundamentalist extremist" would do. These are all awful examples, but it is also all he can come up with. Meacham remains clueless about history and misinformed on reality.
The misunderstanding makes his misinformation look benign. He lectures us with this phrase.
Religious believers should welcome this; freedom for one sect means freedom for all sects.
This statement is poetical, sounds great, but it is completely false. Did Meacham ever stop to think if this statement was true? Let me give a few examples. Islam often desires to go by Sharia Law. This is not just confined to the Middle East, but also is emerging in places like Canada. Does this freedom for Islam result in freedom for all sects? Does it result in freedom for women? Of course not. Women are mere objects in Sharia Law. They can be divorced by mere word of mouth, they often are forced to cover up from head to toe. Is that freedom? Hardly. One can use the Secular Humanist or the Feminist who thinks that a woman has the right to do whatever she wants with the baby in her womb. They wish to murder it. Now is this freedom for the dead baby? Hardly. The Culture War, which MSNBC and Newsweek try hard to pretend ended with the election of Barak Obama, exists because of what Meacham fails to recognize. There are such things as Contradictories. Two things that cannot both be true, and cannot both be accepted, thus they cannot both be tolerated. Take Public Schools for example. Can you teach in public school God at all? No. Can you allow prayer? No. Can you teach Creationism? No. Is that freedom and liberty in the government schools? Is that laying all ideas side by side and letting them fight it out on equal footing, which is Meacham’s pet idea? Or is that intolerance of Christian ideas, and a promotion of atheism, communism, and/or humanism? You cannot have them both. They are at war. Meacham fundamentally misunderstands the nature of belief, the nature of truth, and the nature of what logic calls the "Square of Opposition".
Still further Meacham is missing the boat. He starts by missing his own quote from Al Mohler of the Southern Baptist Convention. Mohler states in the article.
"The post-Christian narrative is radically different; it offers spirituality, however defined, without binding authority," he told me. "It is based on an understanding of history that presumes a less tolerant past and a more tolerant future, with the present as an important transitional step."
Mohler has identified what he believes is a problem. The attempt to hold society together without a unified understanding of concepts. Removing the foundation so to speak. Only a paragraph or two later, Meacham comes up with this piece of worldly wisdom.
What we value most highly—what we collectively love most—is thus the central test of the social contract.
And then explained:
If we apply an Augustinian test of nationhood to ourselves, we find that liberty, not religion, is what holds us together.
My question for Mr. Meacham is this: What is liberty? Can he define it in terms that we will all agree? Then the second logical question. From whence does liberty come? Now, I promise you he will lose most of the people with his answer to that question. In other words, Mohler is right. We may all love liberty, but the one who thinks liberty comes from giving up powers to the President in the Patriot Act and the one who thinks that liberty is stronger without the government are going to differ. I did not even have to bring God into that question to prove Meacham a man full of platitudes, but no real deep thought. When your liberty endangers another’s liberty, whose liberty wins out? Meacham has no answers. That is because he missed the boat about Christianity completely. Liberty comes with Christianity, and from no where else. What force has civilized the world? What force has brought liberty to the world? Christianity is the answer. Did not Christianity civilize the Roman world? Christianity put an end to the gladiator games and feeding people to lions. When the barbarians came, they came without Christianity. Then they were civilized by Christiantiy and civilization was restored. Education, reform, and prosperity came with the Christianity promoted by Charlemagne in what we now call the Carolingian Renaissance. The University was created around the idea of Christianity. The Renaissance is linked fundamentally with the Reformation. Communism was stopped as much by where the Reformation had come as by any military force. Were the American Indians civilized before the induction of Christianity from the settlers? No. It was Christianity that ended the slave trade through men like William Wilburforce doing exactly what Meacham is against. Meacham is just petulantly raging that tolerance is good and those who are against him are just intolerant extremists. Meacham’s complete inability to see that this is a much deeper divide than just mere words means he has missed the spiritual, philosophical, and intellectual boat.
It should be noted that even leftist bloggers like Jeff Schweitzer can see that Meacham is just babbling like a child. Schweitzer can at least see that the Christianity and Secular Humanism cannot be tolerated on the same field. They are Contradictories.
Arnold J. Toynbee, a historian, once stated, "Civilizations are not murdered. They commit suicide." This article from Jon Meacham is trying to get our civilization to take a cyanide pill.