Charles Blow’s self-defeating column against Christianity

In his most recent column for The New York Times, Charles Blow argues that the Replublican Party is manipulating the benighted convictions of Christians for political purposes. Blow accuses the GOP of manufacturing a war on Christians in a cynical attempt to keep its base riled up for the next election.

In short, Blow says that there are no real threats to religious freedom in this country. It’s all just a figment of our imaginations. It’s a ruse designed by the GOP to ensconce Christians in their most “base convictions” (like belief in the biblical creation account and the Bible’s definition of marriage). If it weren’t for the GOP manipulating the base, perhaps Christians would eventually get over some of their superstitious and unfounded beliefs.

There is so much wrong with Blow’s article that it’s difficult to know where to start. But perhaps I should point out the fundamental self-defeating contradiction at the heart of it. Blow argues that the “war” on Christians is a lie. There really isn’t any threat at all for Christians to be concerned about. Then he spends the rest of his article in a sustained assault on Christianity. He castigates Christians ignorant enough to believe that God created the world apart from evolutionary processes. He looks down his nose at Christians who are so unenlightened as to believe what the Bible teaches about marriage. And then there is this condescending line:

I don’t personally have a problem with religious faith, even in the extreme, as long as it doesn’t supersede science and it’s not used to impose outdated mores on others.

In other words, Blow has no problem with Christianity as long as it never contradicts the spirit of the age and never makes claims of any public consequence—which is another way of saying, “I have no problem with Christianity so long as it ceases to be Christian.”

Blow can’t have it both ways. He cannot deny the existence of a “war” on Christianity while simultaneously waging that war himself. Not only is he waging that war. He’s doing so in the most strident terms possible–the kinds of arguments that form the basis for real assaults on religious freedom. To wit, he alleges a strong correlation between religious conviction and “poor societal conditions.” He even goes so far as to say that convictional Christians stand against “common sense and the common good.” Ideologically, this a mere step away from the way the Romans regarded the Christians they persecuted–as “enemies of the human race.”

It is astonishing that Blow can be so unaware of the contradiction at the heart of his argument. He denies the existence of secular antipathy towards Christians, and yet he himself is the embodiment of it in this column. If you want to see evidence that there really is a growing intolerance of biblical Christianity among secular elites, read Blow’s column. Unless Blow is an imaginary man, this is not just a figment of our imaginations.

21 Responses to Charles Blow’s self-defeating column against Christianity

  1. James Bradshaw January 4, 2014 at 1:46 pm #

    If there IS a war against the religious liberties of Christians, it’s not something that’s new or that has even intensified.

    In 1967, Griswold v Connecticut declared as unconstitutional a law that banned the sale of contraceptives, determining that the right of privacy for married couples took precedent over the moral sentiment of many Catholics (and some evangelicals) who believed that the use of contraception, even in marriage, was sinful.

    On January 1st, 1970, Governor Ronald Reagan signed into California law the legal construct known as “no-fault divorce”, ignoring dozens of Scripture passages that place tight restrictions around what constitutes permissible grounds for divorce. Despite some opposition from evangelicals, I’m unaware of any widespread concern for religious liberties at the time.

    That changed a little in 1983 when Bob Jones University lost a Supreme Court case that challenged the revoking of their tax exempt status by the IRS for denying admission to interracial couples. Whether one agrees with BJU policies or not is irrelevant. That policy was held by the administration for reasons they felt had a religious basis.

    As such, I’m unclear how something like gay marriage imposes any sort of “new threat” that hasn’t already existed for the last 40-50 years..

    That being said, I do think that freedom of conscience needs to be considered as do religious liberties. We have acknowledged grounds for exemption from some kinds of military service, for example. We can’t simply dismiss these freedoms out of hand because we don’t agree with the underlying principles of those who are seeking exemptions. If we do, there’s nothing to keep the law from making unjust demands of US when societal mores change (and they are always in flux).

  2. Ken Temple January 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    James and others:
    So called “gay marriage” is a threat to society and culture and decency because it is redefining the meaning of words and this then opens the door to other kinds of so called “marriages” because of the redefinition of words and meanings. And it is approving and celebrating something that is perverse and evil as ok and good for the public to be swayed by this agenda.

    This is already leading to argumentation for polygamy and bi-sexual marriage and polyamory and the presupossitions and argumenation can be used to justify many other more perverse things, being called “marriage”. So called “gay marriage” is child abuse also by nature. Homosexuals adopting children is child abuse by nature, no matter how nice there are to their adopted children and loving, etc. The whole LGBT – thing includes Bi-sexuals and Trans-sexuals – and now they are making laws for girls and boys who are confused about their gender to be able to go into the opposite sex’s bathrooms and public schools and passing laws (like Gov. Christy did in New Jersey) that parents with Christian convictions cannot seek help for their child who is a boy or girl physically and genetically, but thinks they are trappred in the wrong body – passing laws making Christian counseling illegal. This is all wrong at the roots and all of this thinking is destructive to normality, dececy, culture, society, and morality. The so called “gay marriage” on the float at the Rose Bowl was disgusting and shoving their sin and immorality into our faces. They can go have their own private commitment ceremony somewhere and live together – they are free to do that; but it should not be celebrated or approved of by public society. Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty was right, and he was not crude – he used biological and text-book terms. Bill Maher and Martin Bashir and Chris Matthews and Ed Shultz and Reza Aslan and John Stewart of the Daily Show and South Park, etc. – they are much more crude than anything Phil Robertson said. His statement on race in the 60’s was not very good; but it was his own experience [ I think what he meant was that the Black family was happier when it was religious and fathers were together with the family and they were godly and religious and humble, rather than having a victim mentality all the time, like the way Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton try to keep the "race baiting" agenda alive, and the problems with all the young blacks who are now without fathers, poverty, drugs, gangsta rap, anger at all police, etc.], and should have had qualifications of acknowledging that Blacks did not have equal rights outside of his little experience (and he should have made it clear that Jim Crow laws and all racial discrimination and hatred and bigotry is wrong), but his comments on the Bible and sexual sins and sin and homosexuality were right on. Robertson’s comments were more scientic – God created the sexual organs to do certain things; they were not created to be abused the way homosexuals use them. The bowels and muscles there were created to expel feces, not . . . (what homosexuals do to them).

    • Lauren Bertrand January 5, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      Ken, are your statements intended to be a response to James Bradshaw’s cogent observations? I’m not sure how what you’re saying follows rhetorically, especially given James’s sympathetic concessions to religious liberty in his final paragraph. Did you, Ken, already have this statement prepared in preparation for anything that even obliquely references gay marriage?

      • Ken Temple January 6, 2014 at 9:49 am #

        It was not prepared at all; it just flowed out in light of current events and controversies, and the underlying tone of Charles Blow’s article, which Denny correctly discerned.

        James B. and I have discussed these issues before, also over at my blog. My point still stands, as so called “gay marriage” is a redefinition of the meaning of words for people to interpret and mold language into whatever they want. Homosexuals hurt one another by the nature of what they do; even though they may be blind to that hurt. The whole thing is destructive to people and society; young people are already suffering from this confusion and it is a rebellion against the way God created them as male and female.

  3. John T. Jeffery January 4, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    Denny, you really must stop reading the New York Times! Either that, or I have to stop reading your blog! I’m trying to get a sermon ready, and instead I am getting indigestion over what Serene Jones said about Calvin in the article you linked yesterday. Now it has gone into full-blown nausea with Blow blowing my mind with his evolutionary “gospel” and “scientific” good sense! Stop! Enough already! :-)

    • Denny Burk January 4, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      I can’t stop. I have a problem. And the first step to a cure is admitting that I have a problem.

  4. Steve Diseb January 4, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    Sounds like Blow is using plain ol’ Orwellian doublespeak.

  5. Aaron Ginn January 4, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

    I don’t personally have a problem with religious faith, even in the extreme, as long as it doesn’t supersede science and it’s not used to impose outdated mores on others.

    In other words, Blow has no problem with Christianity as long as it never contradicts the spirit of the age and never makes claims of any public consequence—which is another way of saying, “I have no problem with Christianity so long as it ceases to be Christian.”

    Sorry, but that’s not what Blow said at all. He said he is opposed to the imposition of Christian principles not the right of Christians to make claims.

    Impose = use of force. So you’re saying that it is Christian to force others to accept your own version of morality? Doesn’t seem right to me.

    There is no war on Christianity, but there is a movement to prevent Christians from forcing others to accept Christian principles. You can practice Christianity and make all sorts of claims about it, but you don’t have the right to be insulated from criticism and your right to practice Christianity ends when it encroaches on the rights of others.

  6. Esther O'Reilly January 4, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    “Climate change denial.” Like Holocaust denial. Get it? Ah, I just love it when leftists compare cuckoo-banana-bird fiction with historical fact.

    • Aaron Ginn January 4, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

      More like evolution denial. Christians are notorious for denying established scientific claims when they contradict the holy book. Despite the overwhelming evidence for evolution, evangelicals continue to deny it because it destroys their superstitious beliefs. There’s no war on Christianity, but there is (and should be) a war on ignorance.

      • Aaron Ginn January 5, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

        Denny, why did you delete my reply to Esther? I responded to her with courtesy to her rather rude reply to me. Did I say something that offended you or constituted misconduct on my part?

        • Scott Christensen January 6, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

          Aaron, I’d love to see the evidence for Darwinian Evolution. Without derailing the comments or offering a dissertation, just give us the one knock-down piece of evidence that should silence the critics forever, that most indisputable fact that utterly compels us to just lay down our swords in defeat.

  7. Chris Ryan January 4, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

    To be honest, Blow isn’t attacking Christians, Blow is attacking Republicans. And since I’ve yet to see “GOP” or “Republican” written in red letters in my Bible, and since I have yet to see “Ronald Reagan” listed among the 12 Apostles, then I’d have to agree. Of course, Blow doesn’t want Christians to impose their thinking. How many Christians would want Muslims imposing their thinking? The reason we have a 1st Amendment is so that everyone is protected from anyone’s theology–whether its Protestant, Catholic, Muslim or Buddhist. I’m quite conservative in my theology, but I’m old enough to remember when evangelicals were not only regularly ridiculed, but also were a political minority. In my time I’ve seen evangelicals hold great power politically, and unfortunately I don’t think we’ve been good stewards of it. We spend way too much time on politics. Better we should spend that time evangelizing. Look at our pews, all that political power we held within the GOP has been for naught.

    • Curt Day January 6, 2014 at 11:46 am #

      Chris,
      My view is that the relationship between the Republican Party and Conservative Christianity is symbiotic. Both have allowed the public to perceive the two as being conflated. And what results from that is that an attack on one is perceived as an attack on all. Such is a problem for the integrity of the Gospel while a benefit for those who are trying to shepherd the sheep.

  8. buddyglass January 5, 2014 at 1:03 am #

    We need a more precise definition of what it means to “wage war” against a religious faith.

  9. Frank Turk (@Frank_Turk) January 6, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    I’ll bet a fish doesn’t know it is swimming is water most of the time.

  10. Curt Day January 6, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    I am unclear about the point this post is making. How do Charles Blow’s personal views of religious faith constitute a war on Christians? Are we saying that for as long as some don’t believe or are even antagonistic to the faith, then there is a war on Christians?

    And then compare how Blow’s statements about faith constitute a war on Christians with what Conservative Christians say about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Aren’t our statements about gays even more antagonistic than Blow’s statements about faith? And, unlike Charles Blow, we have more influence in this country. Could we also say that Christians are waging war against gays? (for the answer to this rhetorical question, see http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-christian-war-against-gays.html)

    I am a Christian Fundamentalist but I agree with Charles Blow on this point. I agree because I think we have been trying to maintain a dominant position in society and now that that is slipping away, rather than looking at how we try to dominate as the problem, we accuse others of waging war against us.

    • Ken Temple January 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

      Curt Day – your article made me think. First time I have seen that articulated well by a Christian – I would be interested in what Denny Burk thinks of your article that you linked to above.

      Denny – please read it – it would be interesting for you to analyze that.

      I don’t agree with you, Curt, on that; I tend to agree more with J. Budziseweski; but your article (and I also read another of yours there on the same subject) definitely is causing me to think and I appreciate what you wrote, and still honoring what the Bible teaches and what Biblical churches must do; at the same time arguing for freedom in society and reminding Christians to be careful of pride and deeper sinful attitudes.

  11. Ken Temple January 6, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    Curt Day – I think William Birch and others in the combox at Scott Clark’s article also exposed the problems with your approach. I agree with them, and with Scott Clark and J. Buziwesksi, but overall, your approach is good to remember for us to be mindful of pride and looking down on others. http://heidelblog.net/2014/01/rational-responses-to-attacks-from-advocates-of-homosexual-marriage/

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