Thought Experiment

Is the persecution that U.S. Christians face comparable to that experienced by Syriac Christians?

On the situation in the U.S.:

If the media, the law and our elite institutions succeed in lumping Christian sexual morals in with white racism, how long will it be before believing Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox (and many religious minorities) find themselves labelled as members of “extremist sects,” no more to be trusted with the care of their own children than the Branch Davidians were?

Does that sound crazy to you? Then ask yourself why the German government, and the European Court of Human Rights, felt justified in seizing a Christian home-schooled student — with the apparent approval of the Obama administration. Think about the moral views you teach your own kids. Would your local education bureaucrats approve?

Perhaps Chicago’s cardinal, Francis George, wasn’t guilty of hyperbole when he said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

On Syria’s Christians:

Based on my contacts with Archbishop Behnan Hindo of the Syriac Catholic Church and Bishop Aprem Nathanael of the Assyrian Church of the East, who are the only heads of Churches remaining in Hassakeh, the situation over there is still very tense. People are in disarray and filled with fear.

The invasion by the Islamic State and its supporters on some 30 Christian villages on the Khabur River Feb. 23 resulted in the killing of more than two dozen people, the kidnapping of around 300 and the uprooting of around 2,500 people. The survivors had nowhere to go other than to Hassakeh, the capital of the province, where they obtained refuge in church halls and some abandoned buildings.

In Hassakeh, people manage to survive because of the presence of the Syrian National Army that ensures security, along with the Kurdish Protection Army and some Christian defense groups, which are monitoring and defending the city. Because of the ongoing tension, the region is besieged by terrorists. It happens that sometimes those entities clash among themselves, as occurred a few weeks ago. But what is most feared are the booby-trapped explosives that usually hit civilians and cause a lot of destruction, as well as instilling more fear.

Can we have a little perspective on Indiana?


22 thoughts on “Thought Experiment

  1. Can someone explain what business the state has issuing marriage licenses anyway, to heterosexuals or homosexuals? Is the 2k (or at least a libertarian) option to simply let the state do what it will? What if the state no longer issued marriage licenses to anyone, we all filed taxes separately, regardless of marriage status. Then we could worry about more important matters? Just askin’


  2. It’s only a thought experiment. But imagine BHO gets on the telly tonight to announce no more marriages issued in the US of A. Would any of us really think we are worse off? I mean, as a society, we can start working in things that matter more. This marriage debate has consumed too much resources already. It’s time to waive the white flag.

    Just sayin’


  3. Of course the persecution isn’t comparable, won’t be in the near future, and probably never will be in America. That said, there were more than a few valid points and observations in the first linked essay, among them: “It’s stunning how quickly the demands of gay activists went from libertarian (“Don’t arrest us for sodomy”) to totalitarian (“Take part in our weddings or we’ll destroy your livelihoods.”).”


  4. Dan, I wonder if “totalitarian” isn’t over the top. A good way to understand the gay demands is that they won the argument that their cause is equivalent to that of blacks. So anti-gays are like racists and it’s morally justified to close down someone who won’t serve blacks/gays.


  5. Agreed that “totalitarian” was over the top, though “socially psychotic” might worked. Of course, the gay community certainly has plenty of company in the USA of those with a profound disregard — and often outright hostility to — private property, freedom of association, and freedom of contract. A mere scrolling through the US Code, Code of Federal Regulations, your state statutes, even your local land development code, will confirm that.


  6. Dan, I’m wondering what all trips your trigger. Under forfeiture laws, a guy gets busted for some pot in his car and the police seized all the money he had in the car, which happened to be his life savings. OK or not?


  7. Ok. I know this is not the point of this post, but I couldn’t help myself as I read this:

    “Think about the moral views you teach your own kids. Would your local education bureaucrats approve?”

    A libertarian thinker, and U.S. historian whom I admire likes to tell his conservative audiences that – hey, if you don’t believe a word of what the government says about the economy, why do you then believe everything it says about war?

    It struck me recently that for a conservative, Reformed world, I could modify Tom’s question thus: If you don’t believe a word of what the government says about education, why do you then believe everything it says about war?

    Ok, ok. I know this post isn’t about war. But given that the State is necessarily and inherently a coercive and aggressive institution, I think we can use that to link the Indiana law in with the war comment. Maybe the culture war.

    Anyway, Tom just covered the Indiana law today on his podcast. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I appreciate Tom’s thinking. He’s a Roman Catholic and a libertarian:

    Not the same kind of perspective DGH is asking us to have, but still worth considering…


  8. I’m all for tribes, boundaries, etc, but the question here is what gets the better of you — your (assuming you have such a thing) rational, biblically and historically informed Xian self or your emotional, embattled ‘Merican-Western-cultural self? With evangelicals and Fox News catholics the two are so grown together that there’s little hope of separating them.


  9. Darryl,

    That article about Sryian Christian Persecution, sobering stuff. Thanks for sharing. Peace.


  10. Chris, that was a good show. I’ve listened to a number of anarchist/libertarian programs on the topic, and Woods did the best.


  11. @Andrew

    Marriage licenses are of rather recent vintage. In most cases, marriage licensing laws were implemented as a means of preventing interracial marriage.

    Below is a rough translation of something a Swiss psychiatrist said to me on a flight last summer.

    “In Switzerland, we are much more traditional about marriage. We tend to see it in much more pragmatic terms, and not so much in romantic terms. We still believe that a good marriage ought to be prosaic. Men and women are certainly complementary. But that complementarity goes well beyond sex. And after your 30s when the sex drive wanes, things besides sex is all that you’ll have anyway. Many gay people find our view of marriage much more freeing. Because they’re not forced to take on a constrictive, sexualized gender role, as they would be in the US, they often find it easier to appreciate the non-sexual complementarity of male and female. After living in Switzerland for a few years, many Americans or Britons who thought that they were gay come to discover that sexual orientation just isn’t that important in Switzerland.”

    I asked her why this is. Her reply: “Oh, it’s because we’re Calvinists. We Calvinists believe that life is fundamentally prosaic…that the beauty of life is in its simplicity. That’s why Calvinists make better architects than artists.”

    I noted that there are also many Calvinists in the US and Britain. Her reply: “Oh, it’s not authentic Calvinism; Puritanism is an emotional religion of the self with a thin veneer of Calvinism on the outside. It’s the emotional, romantic turn that ruined American and British Calvinism.”

    I could not agree more.


  12. Bobby, there’s a Redeemer franchise planned for Basel. They’re going to save the Swiss from their prosaic, efficient, good-looking ways.


  13. Right Sean. When traveling from Luzern to Geneva by train I noted that even Swiss junkyards are neat and orderly. Maybe the Redeemerites can cure them of all this with a little extra messiness and brokenness.


  14. I’m guessing that the selection of Basel has more to do with serving American expats who work for Roche, Novartis, and Syngenta than it has to do with reaching the Swiss. I travel to both Zurich and Geneva for work. I went to Basel once, just to check it out. The place was filled with American families.

    Sometimes I wonder whether I’m more liberal than the evangelical Reformed or whether I’m so far more conservative that I look like a liberal. In my view, we have no clue what heaven is like, and that our efforts to create heaven on earth cause far more misery than good. We’d be far better off if we simply worked to create an orderly society built around transparency, order, and individual liberties. We leave the redeeming to the Holy Spirit. And we leave “evangelism” to the public offering of Word and sacrament. After all, nothing leads to social conservatism like the requirement to bear the economic externalities of your own poor decision-making.

    And, as far as attractiveness goes, we’d all look better if we just partook of certain things in moderation. Of course, it’s easier to force modest food intake upon yourself when a simple burger and fries costs 40 CHF.


  15. Andrew Buckingham: “Can someone explain what business the state has issuing marriage licenses anyway, to heterosexuals or homosexuals?”

    GW: The biblically-protestant understanding of marriage is that it is a common-grace creation/civil ordinance, not a holy sacrament (“holy matrimony”) of the church. Thus it is proper for it to be officially recognized by the state. A legal marriage license comports well with this principle.

    Ancient societies had different customs besides the issuance of marriage licenses for formalizing recognition of legal marriages, but however it was done it was recognized as a legally-binding relationship subject to the laws of the state. And while Israelite society may not have issued marriage licenses, it is interesting that Scripture acknowledges the use of a certificate of divorce under certain circumstances (Deut. 24:1), thereby showing that marriage was understood to be a legal, civil ordinance recognized and sanctioned by the state. This is one of the reasons why Protestants, who view marriage as a creation ordinance to be sanctioned by the state, have more at stake in the debate over the redefinition of marriage than do Roman Catholics, whose church teaches (if I am correct) that marriage is primarily a sacrament of the church.


  16. This particularly was helpful:

    And while Israelite society may not have issued marriage licenses, it is interesting that Scripture acknowledges the use of a certificate of divorce under certain circumstances (Deut. 24:1), thereby showing that marriage was understood to be a legal, civil ordinance recognized and sanctioned by the state


  17. FWIW in that the family is the first school, church, business and government, i.e. the fundamental building block of society, it behooves the state to take an interest in the well being of families, without usurping or replacing it.

    Supposedly no less than DH Lawrence – no cretin or Christian, no prude or Puritan – said:

    [T]he first element of union is the Christian world is the marriage-tie. The marriage-tie, the marriage bond, take it which way you like, is the fundamental connecting link in Christian society. Break it, and you will have to go back to the overwhelming dominance of the State which existed before the Christian era. …

    Perhaps the greatest contribution to the social life of man made by Christianity is — marriage. Christianity brought marriage into the world: marriage as we know it. Christianity established the little economy of the family within the greater rule of the State. Christianity made marriage in some respects inviolate, not to be violated by the State. It is marriage, perhaps, which has given man the best of his freedom, given him his little kingdom of his own within the big kingdom of the State, given him his foothold of independence on which to stand and resist the unjust State. Man and wife, a king and queen with one or two subjects, and a few square yards of territory of their own: this, really, is marriage. It is a true freedom because it is a true fulfillment, for man, woman, and children.

    Do we want to break marriage? If we do break it, it means we all fall to a far greater extent under the direct sway of the State. Do we want to fall under the direct sway of the State, any State? For my part, I don’t.

    [found on the innernet at

    Mark that. “Do we want to fall under the direct sway of the State, any State?”
    Right now when the state seems to be bent on dictating/redefining a pre political institution, we thinks that is a live question, bigot that we is.

    Even as we know how some socialists will answer it, as they must, in that equality of outcome cannot happen without coercion, while equality of opportunity is the free market capitalist/constitutionalist definition of the term.


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