The Obama Administration announced Friday that it will begin recognizing baptism status as part of overall individual citizens’ profiles, along with birth date, race, social security number, and marital status. The communication from the Social Security Administration conveyed hopes of normalizing the custom of baptism from the popular notion that it is an exclusively religious practice. Over time, the Administration hopes to redefine baptism as a standardized element of identification that will be embraced by every American, from Baptists to atheists.
OK, that’s not true. But it is the pattern of the left’s gradual displacement of all things holy.
People in pursuit of the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God tend to transform ancient scripture into tradition. And those who reject such high-minded touchstones usually end up appreciating the results. So they find a way to move into the covenant-controlled neighborhood and eventually get away with parking their motorhome on the front lawn. The routine goes like this: adopt, adapt, assert.
The most contemporary example is marriage. This lifelong commitment is a religious sacrament described extensively in the Bible. At the wedding, people (especially men) vow to deny their own sexual nature, forsaking all others. Non-religious folks also find marriage agreeable and have adopted it as a cultural practice for themselves. Over time, they have adapted it more to their liking, including short-term commitments and same-sex relationships. In recent years, they have asserted this redefined institution for everyone’s acceptance using the force of law.
Many more examples are found in the annals of Western History. Charity, education, health care, and even the separation between church and state lay as casualties along the path of secular accommodation.
Religious folks have long followed scriptural instructions for feeding, clothing, and defending the poor. A recent study from Barna Group revealed that, “Among the most generous segments were evangelicals (24% of whom tithed); conservatives (12%); people who had prayed, read the Bible and attended a church service during the past week (12%); charismatic or Pentecostal Christians (11%); and registered Republicans (10%).”
The non-religious also seem to like the idea of charity, only not by way of personal contributions. Barna reports that, “Several groups also stood out as highly unlikely to tithe: people under the age of 25, atheists and agnostics, single adults who have never been married, liberals, and downscale adults. One percent or less of the people in each of those segments tithed in 2007.” So the popular demand for charity became adopted through government programs of welfare, foreign aid and FEMA. Today, the asserted level of wealth transfer creates a deficit of about ¼ of the national budget.
Hospitals were historically built by religious orders to care for people and escort mortal souls to their eternal rest. Of course, everyone quickly adopted the idea of receiving advanced care for themselves and their families. Health care has long been a dream acquisition for the left. In 1961, Ronald Reagan warned Americans about statists taking the final step in conquering this most intrusive component of freedom. Obamacare is the assertion.
Education in America, from kindergarten through university, was decidedly motivated by religious people to formalize the students’ understanding of the sciences within the context of the Creator’s design. Harvard University’s Rules and Precepts originally read, “Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, Let every one seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seeke it of him (Prov. 2:3).” Princeton University and many other ivy leagues were established with similar foundations.
By the 1950s, a college education was widely adopted as the preferred avenue toward financial success. Today, most universities are again dominated by the teaching of religion; only now the indoctrination is for statist evangelism. And you pay for it with the left’s assertion of government-funded tuition.
And finally, with an insidious sleight-of-hand, the left transformed the most liberating text of the U.S. Constitutional into the most restrictive oppression. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The federal government does not have the authority to pass any laws regarding religion - period. In support of this sentiment, America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, wrote a letter of assurance to the Danbury Baptists. The statists of the ACLU have successfully adapted Jefferson’s words “wall of separation between church and State” into the assertion “enact laws that confine Christianity.”
Adopt, adapt, assert. Or as Voltaire put it sometime around 1740, “Si Dieu nous a faits à son image, nous le lui avons bien rendu” (If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor).