Sunday, April 6, 2014

"The New Gay Orthodoxy": Just as Intolerant as Elizabethan England

St. Margaret Clitherow,
According to Frank Bruni of the New York Times, a "new gay orthodoxy" now prevails in American politics.  Bruni believes it is now almost politically unthinkable for anyone holding public office to oppose any part of the gay agenda, including its drive for same-sex marriage. And of course, Bruni is largely right. There are a few regions in the country where an elected Congressperson might oppose same-sex marriage--the rural South perhaps. But by and large, the new Gay orthodoxy has swept all naysayers aside--at least in the political arena.

Indeed, the new gay orthodoxy has now taken hold in the business world. People who oppose the new orthodoxy are no longer considered qualified to be business leaders, as Brendan Eich recently found out. Eich contributed to a fund dedicated to opposing same-sex marriage in California, and last week he resigned under pressure as chief executive of Mozilla.

One online writer who commented on Eich's fate said, Mozilla should now "go after" practicing Catholics, practicing Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and the parents of Boy Scouts.  I couldn't determine whether the commentator was making a serious statement or merely being sarcastic.

It is fitting that Bruni used the word "orthodoxy"--a religious term--to describe this phenomenon because the "new gay orthodoxy" is as intolerant toward dissent as orthodox Christianity was in the sixteenth century.  Henry VIII established a new religious orthodoxy for England when he created the Church of England, and his daughter Queen Elizabeth enforced it savagely. St. Margaret Clitherow, an adult convert to Catholicism, was executed in 1586 for refusing to renounce her Catholic faith.

Margaret died a horrible death. First, she was stripped naked and laid down with a sharp rock beneath her back. A board was then placed over her and rocks were slowly piled on the board until she was crushed to death.

As an adult convert to Catholicism myself, I feel a special a special kinship with all adult converts and a deep admiration for all converts who were martyred: Margaret Clitherow, who was pressed to death in 1586, Edith Stein who died at Auschwitz in 1942, and the Ugandan martyrs, who were burned to death by the king of Buganda during the years 1885-1887.

I acknowledge, of course, that the Catholic Church is itself guilty of savage intolerance.  Perhaps 3,000 people were executed under the Spanish Inquisition, and the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in France is an everlasting stain upon the Church.

But I thought we had gotten beyond all of that.  In our present progressive era, aren't we supposed to be tolerant of other people's religious beliefs? Isn't that what the First Amendment is about?

Apparently not. In fact, in our postmodern age, words like tolerance don't mean what they once meant. Today, a mark of tolerance is intolerance toward Christians, particularly Catholics and evangelical Protestants.  Likewise, abortion advocates argue the necessity of killing unborn children in order to help women lead better lives. And Barack Obama, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, directs drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen even while proclaiming a new progressive world order.

Thus, in our brave new postmodern world, tolerance means intolerance, violence means peace, and life means death.

Most of the people who embrace the new orthodoxy believe they are on the right side of history--that is it is only a matter of time before Catholicism is extinguished as a living faith and becomes nothing more than a civic organization like the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians. Like the nineteenth century German liberals who launched the Kulturkampf, America's postmodern elites believe that Catholicism's days are numbered.

But Catholicism survived the Kulturkampf just as it survived the Elizabethan terror of 16th century England.  It will certainly survive the new gay orthodoxy that Frank Bruni correctly perceives is now ascendant in American culture.

References

Frank Bruni. The New Gay Orthodoxy. New York Times, April 6, 2014, Sunday Review section, p. 3.

Michael B. Gross. The War Against Catholicism. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2005.

Margaret T. Monro. St. Margaret Clitherow: "The Pearl of York". Rockford, Ill: TAN Books, 1946.



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