I was encouraged to see the Anglican Curmudgeon’s piece Keeping Religion out of Politics, and Vice Versa. You can see my immediate comments on that post, but it’s heartening to finally see some movement on the “conservative” side of the debate over same sex civil marriage towards getting ride of civil marriage altogether. Earlier this month I did a piece entitled Civil Marriage: It Is Time for a Divorce. The article that inspired it came from David Harsanyi, who is a libertarian atheist.
I’ve been plodding away at this cause (and I’m not much on causes, as many of you know) for the last three years. There are good reasons on both sides of this debate why civil marriage needs to be abolished. The biggest problem has been to get people to think past their conventional concepts. In some ways, I’m surprised that we’re still debating the issue of civil marriage in 2010.
I’m inclined to think that there are those on the left (especially in the LGBT community) who are as down on civil marriage as I am. But their leadership has decided to pursue same sex civil marriage, and in the process has drowned out more libertarian and really progressive voices. That’s in part due to the judicial (if not electoral) victories that same sex civil marriage has racked up. But they’ll see how much fun it is to be on the side of “inequality” when the polygamists sue…
And, of course, there’s the de facto abolition of civil marriage by the dropping marriage rate…
One thing I have found in this debate is the deafening silence of my own church people. My posts are linked to at Facebook and my church has a blogosphere. But in all of the posts I have put up on this subject, I have gotten only one response (from a layman, and it was favourable.) I know many of my church people are passionate on “traditional” marriage in my church, but none of them–church leaders, the church’s academia, and the like–have cared to respond. That’s one reason why I’m inclined to take my energies for discussing anything elsewhere.
Speaking of energetic debate, I’d like to make a few comments on this “Ground Zero Mosque” or “Cordoba Project” business.
The first is to refer to my post Strange Bedfellows: Liberals and Muslims. There is an odd alliance between the two and I think it needs to be discussed. One thing I discuss in piece is the eviction of the Kingsway International Christian Centre by London mayor Ken “Red” Livingstone for a large mosque near the site of the 2012 Olympics.
The second is to note that the complicating factor with Islam is that Islam is a religion and political system rolled into one. Our Western line of thought hasn’t quite figured out how to deal with that, in part because of its Christian heritage. I’d like to commend to my readers my earlier post Pope Benedict XVI and Ferdinand Lot On the Christian and the State.
The third is to note the obvious: there are many projects that don’t get built in New York City. It’s that simple. Just look at Ground Zero itself. Few places on earth suffer from more politicisation, NIMBY, and litigation about building any major structure than New York. Why should any group of people waltz in, drop US$100,000,000 or so, and do what they want without a big stink? As one columnist noted, Mayor Bloomberg could have saved everyone a lot of trouble with a few well placed phone calls.
Beyond that, let’s focus on religious structures. It’s just about impossible for any evangelical church to build a large sanctuary in a major Western city. To start with, it’s dreadfully expensive. Beyond that, if an evangelical church was to be able to raise the funds for such an enterprise, just think about the hue and cry about the “bigots” and “homophobes” coming to the neighbourhood. From a purely political standpoint, why should we support this when we can’t get our own ecclesiastical pipe dreams realised?
I doubt these days that Christians are the better off for getting their ecclesiastical pipe dreams put into steel and concrete. Our President and others are correct in saying that we have freedom of religion in this country, although I don’t see what they’re doing to forward that part of our Constitutional agenda. But the blunt truth is that building anything in a major city is an opportunity for a spirited game of political football, and until that changes this mosque should expect no exception from that kind of dynamic.