Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Christianity’s Revolutionary Recognition of Women as Equals
Marriage has been universal to civilization with most marriage ceremonies involving religion. Yet for years, traditional marriage and the family have been subjected to secular ridicule, with the family increasingly politicized and socialized by “progressive” government bureaucracies. The result has been an unprecedented decline of the family in America, producing increasing rates of non-marital births, divorces, juvenile crime, substance abuse, and other pathologies. This trend can be reversed, however, because the progressive narrative that supports it is unfounded and easily refuted.
The biblical account of marriage begins with one man and one woman: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them.’” And, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Jesus later called humanity back to these records (Matthew 19:4–5, Mark 10:6–8), and the Christian story is viewed as ending with the wedding of Christ with His bride, the Church, from which all Christian discussions of marriage stem.
In Christianity, marriage is hence a sacred union of the highest order. However, since the Enlightenment, secularism has defined marriage as a civil union. Many academics view traditional marriage as a patriarchy to dominate and oppress women, all supported by Christian despots. Such a narrative is based on the theory that primitive mankind was egalitarian, matrilineal, and socialist, with communal sexual relations, despite the biological and kinship basis of heterosexual pairing.
However, for thousands of years around the world, a wife was considered a husband’s property. In ancient Jewish communities, almost every adult was married. By age thirteen, a man chose a wife who was betrothed and considered married. The man headed the family, with the wife his property. In the Greco-Roman pagan world, marriage was reserved for citizens, and a woman shared her husband’s station as mother of his children, but she and the offspring were his.
While adultery was prohibited for women, no fidelity obligation existed for men. Older men could force marriage on pre-pubescent girls and compel them to have abortions, usually certain death for not only the baby but also the girl. Moreover, according to sociologist and historian Rodney Stark in his Pulitzer-Prize Finalist book The Rise of Christianity, infanticide was a commonplace, with baby girls disproportionately abandoned, resulting in “131 males per 100 females in the city of Rome, and 140 males per 100 females in Italy, Asia Minor, and North Africa.”
Only with the arrival of Christianity did the status of women change as obligations were placed on husbands. As Stark has shown, “Christians condemned promiscuity in men as well as in women and stressed the obligations of husbands toward wives as well as those of wives toward husbands.... The symmetry of the relationship Paul described was at total variance not only with pagan culture but with Jewish culture as well.”
Stark shows that Christianity recognized women as equal to men, all sacred to God. Christian wives did not have abortions (neither did Jewish wives), and Christians opposed infanticide, polygamy, incest, divorce, and adultery—all to women’s benefit. No longer serfs to men, women had dignity, were not rushed into marriages, and served as leaders in rapidly growing Christian communities. Christian women married older than pagans and into more secure families, had better marriages, were not forced to remarry if widowed, and were given assistance when needed. Stark notes Paul’s teaching:
But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does.
Thus, the progressive narrative upon which contemporary, anti-family policies rest, is false. Only through Christianity did women receive full marriage rights and gender equality in fidelity. The private, monogamous family has served the human needs for love and companionship, economic and social well-being, and the rearing of children. Abandoning these lessons is at the root of the modern decline of the family, and government can only further undermine the rights and benefits that have uplifted the lives of countless men, women, and children through Christian-inspired marriage. To restore the family, civic and religious leaders must challenge such folly to achieve the needed privatization and de-politicization reforms.
Actor Patrick Stewart Sides With Christian Bakers Who Refused to Make Gay Marriage Cake
Longtime LGBT advocate and actor Patrick Stewart has sided with Christian bakers in Northern Ireland who refused to write the words, “support gay marriage” on a cake.
"It was the actual words on the cake they objected to," Stewart told BBC's "Newsnight" Thursday. "I would support their rights to say, 'No, this is personally offensive to my beliefs, I will not do it.'"
Ashers Baking Company was found guilty of discrimination and ordered to pay $978 to Gareth Lee, who had asked them to bake a cake with Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie underneath the words, “Support Gay Marriage” for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia last year. After initially accepting the order, the bakery called Lee two days later to cancel.
“Finally I found myself on the side of the bakers,” said Stewart, who starred in the “Star Trek” TV show and the “X-Men” movie. “It was not because this was a gay couple they objected. It was not because they were going to be celebrating some kind of marriage. It was the actual words on the cake they objected to, they found them offensive.”
Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled that the McArthurs, who own the bakery, directly discriminated against Lee, “for which there can be no justification.”
“The defendants are not a religious organisation. They are conducting a business for profit and, notwithstanding their genuine religious beliefs, there are no exceptions available under the 2006 regulations which apply to this case,” Brownlie added.
“Our issue was with the message on the cake, not with the customer, and we didn’t know what the sexual orientation of Mr. Lee was, and it wasn’t relevant either,” Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur said.
Will Congress take on Obama's racial preference housing policies?
One Supreme Court decision flying under the radar at the moment is Texas Dep't of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project. Yet the implications of this case are every bit as important as anything else before the nation's highest court being decided this month, including the constitutionality of federal exchange subsidies under the health care law.
The Texas case involves the non-profit Inclusive Communities Project, which contends that low income housing tax credits are being disproportionately granted to developments within minority neighborhoods and denied to white neighborhoods, supposedly perpetuating segregation in violation of the Act.
This puts on trial the use of so-called disparate impact analysis under the Fair Housing Act.
Disparate impact is "a legal doctrine under the Fair Housing Act which means that a policy or practice may be considered discriminatory if it has a disproportionate 'adverse impact' against any group based on race, national origin, color, religion, sex, familial status, or disability," according to the Fair Housing Alliance.
But, argues Texas, federal rules requiring disparate impact analysis violate the equal protection of the laws under the 14th Amendment by requiring "a State's qualified allocation plan to give preference to projects in low-income areas — and those areas will be disproportionately populated by racial minorities."
Such racial preferences, then, require states to discriminate on the basis of race in allocating the tax credits.
Should the Supreme Court reject the use of disparate impact under the Fair Housing Act as unconstitutional, its effects will be far-reaching into other areas of housing law.
For example, an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court would surely ensnare the "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing" rule and the "Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Assessment Tool," which, when finalized, will empower the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to condition eligibility for community development block grants on redrawing zoning maps to achieve racial and income integration.
In 2012, HUD dispersed about $3.8 billion of these grants to almost 1,200 municipalities. Conditioning those grants on rezoning will generate obvious political outcomes, namely, to turn what were once Republican districts — which tend to be higher income and white not because of racism but rather economics and regional demographics — into marginal, purple districts under the guise of providing "fair housing."
In preparation for implementing the rule, HUD has released template racial rezoning maps and data tables to be used in each community development block grant recipient area.
The tool's worksheet orders the assessing bureaucrat using the maps and data to "identify neighborhoods or areas in the jurisdiction and region where racial/ethnic groups are segregated and indicate the predominant groups for each."
Additionally, the bureaucrat must identify the extent the following factors "contribut[e] to segregated housing patterns" including "Land use and zoning laws, such as minimum lot sizes, limits on multi-unit properties, height limits, or bedroom-number limits as well as requirements for special use permits; Occupancy restrictions; Residential real estate steering; Patterns of community opposition; Economic pressures, such as increased rents or land and development costs; Major private investments; Municipal or State services and amenities; and Foreclosure patterns."
According to HUD, the tool is "for use by each program participant to evaluate fair housing choice in its jurisdiction, to identify barriers to fair housing choice at the local and regional levels, and to set and prioritize fair housing goals to overcome such barriers and advance fair housing choice."
Why, that sounds a lot like the very type of disparate impact analysis now in the Supreme Court's crosshairs.
In the meantime, U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) has offered an amendment to the Transportation and HUD appropriations bill that would bar the department from using any funds to carry out the rules.
Last year, the House passed a similar amendment offered by Gosar in a 219 to 207 vote.
As it stands, floor action on Gosar's latest amendment is imminent. And since members cannot predict how the Supreme Court will rule, action in favor of the amendment is now that much more important.
Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning issued the following statement urging support, "Racial quotas are unconstitutional, and yet that is exactly what HUD will use to redraw every neighborhood in America. This has nothing to do with housing discrimination, which has been illegal since the 1960s. Instead 'Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing' is based on a utopian goal of creating evenly distributed neighborhoods based on racial composition and income."
Manning concluded, "The House must take a stand to preserve local zoning rights." Indeed, who gets to draw the map of every neighborhood in America may be at stake. Will it be local communities, or faceless bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.? It's up to the House to now decide.
Britain Sent Thousands Of Its Convicts To America, Not Just Australia
The joke about Australia is that it was founded by a bunch of criminals. And from 1788 until 1868, Britain did send roughly 164,000 convicts to the land down under. America’s dirty little secret? The same exact thing was happening here. In fact, experts estimate that over 52,000 British prisoners were shipped off to colonial America.
Britain had been shipping convicts to America for decades before they started sending them to Australia. In fact, it was precisely because of America’s fight for independence that the Brits had to start sending their criminals to Australia. But from 1718 until 1775, convict transportation to the American colonies flourished. Some estimates claim that almost 10 per cent of migrants to America during this time were British convicts.
Typically, getting banished to America was for a term of either seven or fourteen years, after which the convict could theoretically come back the Britain. Escaping home early, however, was punishable by death. And it wasn’t just men. Some female convicts were transported to the American colonies as well, for crimes such as being “lewd” and “walk[ing] the streets after ten at night.”
Many Australians have more or less embraced their convict history. But if you’re an American who had no idea that your country’s founding included a huge prison population, you’re not alone. Historically, Americans have not been too keen on discussing the fact that convicts came to what would eventually become known as the United States.
As Anthony Vaver explains in his book Bound With An Iron Chain, historians have sought to cover up the fact that so many prisoners were sent to America:
"Through the 19th century, most historians simply ignored the institution, and those who did recognise it usually claimed that nearly all of the people who were transported were political prisoners."
No less a figure than Thomas Jefferson himself tried to downplay the history of penal transportation to America. Writing in 1786, Jefferson insisted that even if British criminals had been sent, they must’ve been small in number:
"The Malefactors sent to America were not sufficient in number to merit enumeration as one class out of three which peopled America. It was at a late period of their history that the practice began. I have no book by me which enables me to point out the date of its commencement. But I do not think the whole number sent would amount to 2000 and being principally men eaten up with disease, they married seldom and propagated little. I do not suppose that themselves and their descendants are at present four thousand, which is little more than one thousandth part of the whole inhabitants."
Except that this wasn’t true. British convicts came over in droves, and free Americans weren’t too happy about it. In fact, even before the Transportation Act of 1718 really opened the doors for Britain’s dumping of undesirables in America, some colonies tried to pass laws that would prohibit the practice. In 1670 authorities in Virginia passed an act that prohibited convicts from being sent to the area. This, unsurprisingly, was overruled by the king.
Pennsylvania tried to do something similar in 1722 by passing a tax for the importation of any people for servitude who had been found “guilty of heinous crimes.” The king, naturally, said that this wasn’t allowed either, proclaiming in 1731: “Whereas acts have been passed in America for laying duties on felons imported, — in direct opposition to an act of Parliament for the more effectual transportation of felons, — it is our royal will and more pleasure that you approve of no duties laid on the importation of any felons into Pennsylvania.”
Many of those sent to the American colonies were put to work doing manual labour. From an 1896 paper on the subject by James Davie Butler:
Planters both in the West Indies and in Virginia, which was reckoned a part of them far on in the eighteenth century, needed laborers, and welcomed a supply from whatever quarter. […] As Virginia’s staple was tobacco, it naturally became a centre of white as well as black servitude, whether its victims were indented or not, and criminal or not.
Americans have rather romantic ideas about how their country was founded. We’ve long been fond of the mythology surrounding persecuted people freely travelling to the New World and building the greatest country on Earth. But, like all history, it’s much, much messier than that. Our history includes plenty of genocide, slavery, and just a dash of prison folk — and the latter may be news to many Americans who wouldn’t hesitate to make jokes about Australia being populated by the descendants of criminals.
But Australia really wasn’t special in that regard. Shipping criminals halfway around the world was part of America’s sordid history, too.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.