“Conservatives”—another term for which I have diminishing tolerance—see no need to make a stink about gay marriage today, at least not at actionable scale. This means the issue is thoroughly embedded in the public reason. It makes sense and is unquestioned in any real sense. Even if some people don’t like it there are now bigger fish to fry, fish that coalitions can be built around. And so, the root cause, the first defeat and its externalities, is forgotten.
Last week I wrote about a new case in Oregon wherein a would-be foster mother was denied the privilege because she was deemed an unfit mother with an unfit home, according to the established religion of Oregon. The mother in question is a Christian and she refused to affirm, as part of her foster/adoption application, that she would raise children in an affirming home, i.e., she would not commit to brainwashing them with queer dogma or facilitate the sacrifice of their flesh to the god of liberatory androgyny. I employed some Fustel (Ancient City) to show that instruction in and perpetuation of religion is, even in the ancient world, inseparable from parenthood. It’s part of the job. The Bible says so too. Our law still protects this right, for the time being, at least for natural parents, for now—part of my point was that the slippery slope is currently being greased. We instinctively know it.
My argument was not meant to be comprehensive but polemical, geared toward several provisional arguments, and concentrating on the constitution of familial life to draw out contradictions.
The basic, universal point is that if parents are not inculcating religion they are not parenting and if a family is irreligious, it is not properly a family, only analogously so. Just as Richard Baxter said a commonwealth is only rightly so called if it is oriented to true religion, and that those built on false religion or irreligion, insofar as the latter exists, are only analogously participatory in the essence of commonwealth.
And so, Fustel’s documentation combined with history and tradition of our own country combined with true religion of Christianity equals a proper family in every way, one serviceable to the nation because it is rightly ordered internally. That the family is the foundational socio-political unit, a precursor to and microcosm of, larger units is a basic Aristotelian insight that needs no explication here. (Interaction and interrelation between the little commonwealth and the large commonwealth, or the little church and the larger church, is a separate and later question.)
I did not suggest in my piece that the question of which religion was irrelevant, only that to deny Bates (the Oregon mom) her pedagogical duty was to deny her true parenthood. The two go together. The regime knows this. That’s why they’re doing it. It’s a very forward looking, shrewd sorting strategy too. But I won’t say anything of any replacement theories, of course. That would be crazy. What I will say, as alluded to already, is that the slope is, indeed, slippery. That’s how these things work. If the Oregon DHS policy is not defeated now, and on the basis of what I’m laying out as the proper family, it will soon—sooner than most expect—apply to the natural as well as the adoptive family. Note too that the fact that Bates is, in her case, only attempting to foster and not necessarily adopt, is irrelevant. The same DHS application applies to both scenarios; the same standard is applied to either case. For all intents and purposes, then, we are talking about adoption.
Now, none of this negates a state interest, in this private aspect of religious practice and childrearing, even as there is tolerance. (Ignore, for now, the somewhat artificial bifurcation of public and private.) There are always limits. The only question is one of standards and metrics.
The state has a legitimate interest, of course, in screening adoptive parents. It will do so according to established religion and morality. This is unavoidable. Again, the point I was making is that you can’t have parenthood without religious pedagogy, the perpetuation of the sacred fire.
So, when you deny religious instruction around the hearth you deny parenthood, full stop. Even if, let’s say, Bates had agreed against her conscience to the stipulations in the Oregon DHS application and then gritted her teeth and abided by them while providing all other maintenance for the foster children, she would not, properly speaking, be parenting. For she would not be perpetuating her household gods.
The foster or adopted children would not properly be initiated into the family—Fustel deals with adoption too. Moreover, to draw out internal contradictions in predominant thought, the piece was meant to challenge anti-Christian nationalists. What if the standard was Christianity? You would all howl in righteous indignation. That challenge is for people who still deny the inescapability of the which not whether choice always and everywhere before us.
But all this, at a grander level, is not just about Bates. Her case is illustrative of system level problems already mentioned. The regime is shrinking its range of toleration, and that regarding a key vector of evangelism, so to speak, of the previously predominant and therefore competitor religion. Smart move on part of the regime. People should recognize this. And while I am sympathetic, obviously, to “religious liberty” arguments for the sake of immediate and pressing goals, people should also recognize the relatively short, remaining life expectancy of said arguments. They were designed for a different world and, in some respects, contain the demise of Christian America within them, even as they were coded Christian from the beginning. You either like that end result or you don’t, but if you don’t then you are in a pickle. And this goes even for those less assertive than Christian nationalists. I mean those who still make the Christianity is necessary for liberal democracy and religious liberty but can’t be enforced argument.
In any case, and in this way, the responses went right where I wanted them to: the recognition of the inescapability of establishment.