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Would anyone argue that religions of every faith (except perhaps Islam) have been at war with the secular Left, including Marxists and the Woke community? It isn’t a war that the religions have invited or instigated, but their viability and faith practices are being challenged and they must push back. I think you’ll find two stories especially intriguing, because they have both occurred in the last couple of weeks, highlighting attacks on Christianity and Judaism.
The first story is about Gov. Ron DeSantis. We could discern that the most recent attack against him is just one more effort to discredit and demonize his efforts in Florida:
While visiting a private Christian college in southern Michigan that wields influence in national politics, Gov. Ron DeSantis rephrased a biblical passage to deliver a message to conservatives.
‘Put on the full armor of God. Stand firm against the left’s schemes. You will face flaming arrows, but if you have the shield of faith, you will overcome them, and in Florida we walk the line here,’ DeSantis told the audience at Hillsdale College in February. ‘And I can tell you this, I have only begun to fight.’
Please note that Hillsdale emphasizes its classical education, not only its Christian values, and a subtle reference to the fact that the college “wields influence in national politics” was just another way to delegitimize them. The writer of this article was also trying to tarnish DeSantis due to his association with Christians and, in particular, was trying to suggest a link between DeSantis and Christian nationalists due to his quoting from the Bible:
Christian nationalism for many conservatives has become a political identity, and unlike conservative politicians in the past who used their faith to inform their arguments, DeSantis is more aggressive, using war imagery to describe the political debates as a battle over who will be the better American.
Data that supports the growth of Christian nationalism, as well as its activity in this country, is hard to find. But from my research, secularists and anti-religious writers are doing their best to discredit religion in general, and Christianity specifically. And they insinuate that the Christian nationalists will be moved to violence.
The references to Christian nationalism are, to me, the most disturbing connections that are being made. There is a not-so-subtle suggestion that, at the very least, DeSantis is trying to stir up violence among radical Christian nationalists, and the proposition that he is somehow aligned with these people himself. I don’t know his current religious practices, but he was raised Catholic.
These efforts to discredit DeSantis will continue, probably as long as he’s in office, but he’s not afraid to push back:
In a recent interview with the conservative Christian podcast ‘Focus on the Family,’ DeSantis said Democrats are ‘trying to establish a religion of their own’ in America, which he is trying to combat by fighting ‘woke ideologies’ in public schools.
‘This woke ideology functions as a religion, obviously it is not the Judeo-Christian tradition, but they want that to be effectively the governing faith of our country. They want that to be the core orthodoxy in public schools and other types of public function. They want to impose their values,’ DeSantis said. ‘They really want to impose their world view to the exclusion of the rest of us.’
Sounds about right to me.
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But Christianity is not the only religion taking a battering:
This summer, the historic Jewish college—the nation’s oldest—was rocked when a local judge deemed the school was actually secular, and therefore obligated to formally recognize a campus LGBTQ organization, ‘Pride Alliance,’ in defiance of the University’s Torah-based religious beliefs.
But last week, Judge Lynn Kotler’s June ruling in Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance et al was temporarily stayed by United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the ‘circuit justice’ for the federal Second District, which includes New York.
The state trial judge decided that the method of incorporation by Yeshiva University “exclusively for educational purposes” indicated that they were violating discrimination law on many grounds, including sexual orientation, since they didn’t claim to be incorporated solely for religious purposes.
The Orthodox Jewish university argues that such recognition [of the Pride group] would violate its religious values, but New York appellate courts declined to block the trial judge’s order while appeals proceed. Last month, Yeshiva filed an emergency application with Justice Sotomayor asking the Supreme Court to intervene.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority has been highly deferential to religious claims, issuing opinions that read broadly the First Amendment’s free-exercise clause against secular government interests. In legal papers, Yeshiva suggested the Supreme Court could take up the appeal directly rather than wait for the appellate process to play out in the New York state courts. If the justices agree, another major precedent in religious exercise could follow.
If you thought this latest issue was the end of the religious controversies with schools, you would be wrong:
Private schools in New York state — in particular those operated by various branches of Hasidic Judaism — will have to offer ‘substantially equivalent instruction’ to that found in public schools, officials ruled Tuesday.
Following months of debate about the practices of the Hasidic-related schools, called yeshivas, the New York State Board of Regents voted unanimously to require that religious schools get approval from local boards of education for their coursework or obtain formal accreditation from a recognized body.
The state will mandate math, reading, writing, science and history instruction, reports indicate.
This latest requirement, which blatantly targets the Orthodox Jewish community, is a little more difficult to address:
The regulations will require the state’s school districts, beginning next September, to identify all nonpublic schools in their catchment areas. They must then visit those schools by the end of the 2024-25 school year and determine whether their instruction in required secular topics—including mathematics, science, New York history and civics—is substantially equivalent to that offered in public schools.
Nonpublic schools can also comply with the regulations by showing they are accredited by an approved outside organization or that their students show academic progress on state tests.
The state could withhold public funds from school districts that fail to enforce the substantial-equivalency requirements. [Italics are mine.]
These regulations are complicated by a number of questions: can the state legally require a specific secular curriculum? Can they insist that, in order to receive state funding, schools must comply? Who has the authority to approve an outside authority that can measure student progress on secular studies? Which measurements will be used to determine if a school is enforcing “substantial equivalency requirements”? After all these years, should mandatory education even be required?
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I admit that a requirement to provide a state-mandated curriculum may be legitimate if the schools are receiving state funds. But what happens when controversial subjects are added to the required courses, such as gender studies?
To me, however, the determination of New York to target Jewish schools is, in itself, questionable, even if other schools are covered in the mandate.
Whether we’re discussing Christianity or Judaism, I’m just disgusted at the ongoing attacks on our religious and moral values, and worry about how long we will be able to practice our faiths as we wish.Published in