Cultural decline update 4/20/15

  1. A lot started in 1972
  2. Time to start doin’
  3. Obama administration anti-Christian?
  4. Polling bias on same-sex marriage

1

It bears repeating periodically that the Democrat Party sold out in 1972, and the sell-out continues to ramify.

In 1972, they changed party rules in ways that, whatever the intention, gave greater power to the abortion and gay rights lobbies, taking power from blue collar workers and the poor. In 2015, the typical Democrat official cares no more for the poor and lower middle class than does a stereotypical Republican millionaire, and maybe cares even less, with support for policies that undermine the family, multiply single-parent “parenting” and thus multiply poverty and misery.

Notre Dame political philosopher Patrick Deneen pretty well nails it:

These are the people who now rule the Democrat Party with an iron hand, equal or stronger than that of the NRA or Grover Norquist ruling the Republicans.

I thought of this historic arc upon noting that a local ecumenical poverty and homeless ministry was giving up $30,000 of federal money because (the public reason) the paperwork burden made it barely worthwhile. I suspect that concern over federal control may be in play, too, though the director is himself a Democrat and somewhat liberal. After all, one of the uses of RFRA has been to protect the right to feed the poor despite ordinances that attempt to Disnefy a community by disappearing unsightly people, and RFRA now is in bad odor with the lifestyle left.

A friend expected an editorial against the decision in the local newspaper soon, but without hesitation I assured him “It will never happen because they’re not bucking the sexual revolution, and our elites and media care about nothing else.” If you’re not attacking liberal groin pieties, you can do anything to the poor, or even (on the precedent of Bill Clinton) sexually exploit low-status women and you’ll get no blowback.

2

“Some day” has become today.

Rod Dreher, on a speaking tour (probably book promotion) has been getting into some serious conversations at places like Notre Dame, where he has been

taken aback by how much the Indiana blow-up has shaken people. There is real fear for religious liberty now, and they are right to be afraid. The feeling seems to be that the Left has all the momentum now, and they’re not going to stop at anything. I’m hearing conversations now — serious conversations by serious people — about the need to prepare for job losses, the pulling of professional licenses, the closing of institutions, capitulations, and personal attacks on oneself and ones family and friends.

This has accelerated his previously theoretical “some day it may come to this” thinking about The Benedict Option:

What I call the Benedict Option is this: a limited, strategic withdrawal of Christians from the mainstream of American popular culture, for the sake of shoring up our understanding of what the church is, and what we must do to be the church. We must do this because the strongly anti-Christian nature of contemporary popular culture occludes the meaning of the Gospel, and hides from us the kinds of habits and practices we need to engage in to be truly faithful to what we have been given.

Withdrawal from mainstream American popular culture will not happen without something to fill the void, just as one must find good food after foreswearing junk food. Dreher offers some tentative thoughts on how to implement it, starting now, including “worship that is heavily embodied … disciplined, and ascetically oriented,” strong pastors, creeds, and enforcement, and losing the seeker-friendly delusion.

I guess you could say I’ve become a Dreher “disciple,” except that I can rarely penetrate the devilish captchas one must pass to join his commenters (or is that just when I’m on my Mac? No sweat on PC the other day).

3

U.S. military ‘hostile’ to Christians under Obama; morale, retention devastated. The Washington Times has without explanation begun sending me e-mails that appear to feature stories they think I’ll find congenially inflammatory, like that one.

There is some plausibility to the story. The Freedom From Religion Foundation seems to have some pull with this Administration, and Mickey Weinstein‘s always at the ready to allege theocracy in the Air Force if FFRF is otherwise occupied at the moment.

As Terry Mattingly explained on the GetReligion podcast, in typical newsrooms, a unifying conviction is that the Religious Right must lose (I guess the Washington Times isn’t typical, or at least not homogenously so; do the Moonies still own it?). I’d suggest that the newrooms share this conviction with Our Betters, and that it has risen almost to the level of a new Distortion Factor, to go along with the Abortion Distortion Factor and the kindred Creationism Distortion Factor (label a science teacher “creationist” and he’ll lose any claim of academic freedom to pedagogically interrogate the theory of evolution).

But “almost” is an important word here. The Supreme Court hasn’t weighed in yet to the point where I can say that it’s in the tank. CLS v. Martinez is a bad omen, but it may be a one-off (and Christian Legal Society is not “religious right” but leans strongly Evangelical, try as it may to be ecumenical). We’ll know soon enough, starting with the same-sex marriage decision and the explosion of religious freedom conflicts that will arise if it “settles” that issue as it settled abortion 42 years ago.

4

Justice Ginsburg has come close to pre-announcing her vote on marriage, though, based on a supposed shift in public opinion (that I was accepting, too).

I’ve become pretty jaded about the amicus curiae whoring of social science, but I may have overlooked the opinion poll whoring on behalf of the daily press, which wants “news” (and wants it to make the Religious Right lose).

John Eastman at Public Discourse blogs that he has filed an amicus brief on behalf of expert political consultant Frank Schubert and the National Organization for Marriage. He covers a lot of reasons why the Supreme Court should leave marriage in the political process come June.

What’s new to me is “Frank Schubert’s expert analysis of recent public opinion polls that purport to show that a majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage”:

Schubert’s conclusion: those polls are severely flawed, employing a number of well-known polling tactics that distort the results, such as positive response bias (that is, phrasing the question so that the “yes” answer yields the preferred response); multiple-issue questions (to encourage a positive response even if there is agreement with only part of the question); and “priming” (the practice of placing the critical question after a series of non-controversial questions, in order to lay the groundwork for the preferred response). One of the nation’s most-recognizing polling organizations, Gallup, now “primes” its same-sex “marriage” question on all of its polls, for example, even though it knows from polls when it “primed” only half of the respondents that priming yields about a 6-7 point difference in the results.

Moreover, the polls often suffer from what experts call “social desirability bias”—that is, when respondents give the answer they think the interviewer wants to hear, or that they believe is the politically/socially correct answer, even if they do not actually hold that view.

Our brief also reviews several recent national polls that do not prime, do not create a positive response bias in favor of same-sex marriage, and do not skew the results by asking multi-layered questions. A WPA Opinion Resource poll in February 2015, for example, asked a random sample of voters whether they agreed or disagreed with the following straightforward statement: “I believe that marriage should be defined ONLY as a union between one man and one woman.” Fifty-three percent of voters surveyed said they agreed with the statement, while 43 percent disagreed. It’s true that this number is down slightly from just after the 2012 election, when 60 percent of voters backed conjugal marriage. Still, coming on the heels of claims by Gallup and others that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, the 10 point margin in favor of traditional marriage is significant. It is even more remarkable when one considers the decade-long propaganda effort in favor of “marriage equality” that has been waged through virtually every one of our nation’s definers of culture—Hollywood movies and television, music videos, college campuses, etc.

Schubert’s conclusion? The only thing that can accurately be said about recent polls is that the nation remains deeply divided on the issue of same-sex “marriage.”

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.