The new McCarthyism

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The end is near! Or maybe it isn’t; I almost wish it were, some days. I’ve been trying to think, when was the last time I saw a sandwich board with that message? (Long time ago.) Or the last time I actually met someone actively and practically preparing for the End Time? Or even, advocating for a Flat Earth. Opposition to philosophical “Darwinism” is rife, among Christians and non-Christians alike, so I’m afraid I can’t accept that as a marker.

I do know a lot of Christians, both Catholic and otherwise. Some of them are really quite nutty, a feature of any large demographic constellation. But let me assure my non-Christian reader that they aren’t anywhere near power. Moreover, the more obviously they are unstable, the more they tend to be isolated; poor souls. And, obsessing about the End Time is indeed a marker for mental instability, as is being obsessed with people who are obsessed with it.

The traditional position, solidly founded in the Bible and shared by all Christians who are even semi-orthodox is we know neither the time nor place of Christ’s return. Better than that, if you consult the Gospel of Luke: for He will come in judgment “in a day when we look not for Him, and at an hour when we are unaware.” Therefore we pray: “Make us prepared every day and every hour.”

That it will happen is an article of faith, but you have to know as little about Christianity as, say, Canadian journalist Marci McDonald, to turn this into some paranoid conspiracy to seize the government. I think she has us confused with the Twelvers in Persia; that, working from the now-common “gliberal” assumption that all religious believers are insane, there is nothing to choose between, say, Billy Graham and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Now, let me confess I have given McDonald’s book, The Armageddon Factor, only a quick peruse. Being familiar with several of the Christian, semi-Christian and non-Christian organizations she is lumping together in some fundamentalist conspiracy, I could see immediately that she does not know what she is talking about. Life is short, and I refer my reader to the National Post and elsewhere for articles that detail how reckless the book is with facts.

Yet the author takes only softball questions from like-minded colleagues when she appears on air for the publicity rounds.

Imagine the outrage the same hosts might express had she instead attacked gay or feminist activists or had alleged dark Jewish or Muslim conspiracies. Except, in that case, she wouldn’t be invited to appear on CBC. Nor would the book have been published by such as Random House Canada.

But the nonsense here goes deeper than mere indifference to fact. Beneath the rubbish on the surface is a profoundly malicious and bigoted attack on the legitimacy of Christian belief. And foolish on its own premises: for the Christian reader is almost invited to consider what steps, if any, may be necessary to defend himself, his family and his co-religionists against what amounts to a call for persecution.

The notion that, simply because people are Christian, they should be “exposed” and hounded out of public life, or dragged before human rights tribunals, is becoming a commonplace of “progressive” thinking. It is hardly confined to Canada: the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing an astounding case (Christian Legal Society v. Martinez), in which the most basic right of free association could be denied to Christians on university campuses; the ACLU has made the removal from public property of all visible evidence of America’s Christian heritage an expression of “civil rights.”

In Ottawa this week, a “scandal” has been alleged because the member of Parliament for Regina-Qu’Appelle (a Catholic!) arranged a lunch with colleagues (not all of them Catholic) to meet the Canadian vicar of the Catholic lay organization Opus Dei. Neither the organization nor the lunch was in any way secret, unprecedented, nor otherwise abnormal, and yet it was presented in Le Devoir with the gravity of the Spanish Inquisition.

This is an example of the sort of thing that promises to become, in the shadow of McDonald’s much-touted book, a “meme” of agenda-driven, liberal journalism: “outing” those who quite openly practice the Christian religion and advocate for its long-received views as if they were subversives.

How should Christians respond to such attacks? To fellow Catholics, I would suggest, take the Rosary out of your pocket and wave it in their faces. To all other Christians, likewise: do not be cowed, do not retreat an inch. You have every right to maintain the beliefs that built Western Civilization against the beliefs that are taking it down and a duty in good conscience to affirm Christ, regardless of the consequences.

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