This has been an eventful week on the National Mall. The common cold kept me from this afternoon’s event, the annual March for Life; common sense kept me from Monday’s event. Or so I thought (and, well, still think). That said, it would have been a delight to have seen Justice Scalia proceed to his seat at the Inauguration, just feet away from President Obama, wearing a replica of St. Thomas More’s hat.
Much ink has already been spilled on the matter, but First Thing’s Matthew Schmitz probably said it best: “Wearing the cap of a statesman who defended liberty of church and integrity of Christian conscience to the inauguration of a president whose policies have imperiled both: Make of it what you will.”
Robby George had, in fact, already made something of it – not the hat, that is, but our imperiled religious religious liberty. The longtime advocate of legal protection of traditional family structure wrote in an email interview that those of us who oppose legal redefinitions of marriage should expect persecution in coming years. Paranoia? Well, not if you agree with George’s understanding of the term “persecution”, which includes “the use of ‘anti-discrimination’ laws to violate the freedom of religious institutions and religious individuals to honor their beliefs about marriage and sexual morality.”
The article itself is very much worth a read, especially Bard College Professor Ian Buruma’s suggestion that Pope Benedict XVI’s “narrow views on proper human relationships reinforce the idea in other, more violent men that women outside those traditional relationships are ‘loose’ and thus deserve what is coming to them.” He insinuated – no, claimed outright – that the pope’s speech encouraged the abhorrent type of sexual aggression that took place in the recent gang rape and resultant death of a New Delhi woman.
The logic is astoundingly bad, but that has rarely stopped political action. If defending the “narrow view” that marriage is one man and one woman – which is to say, the foundational unit of Western civilization over centuries – comes to be understood as inducing hate crime – as Professor Buruma has suggested – Both George and Scalia might very well be right to warn us about religious persecution within this generation’s lifetime.