With the recent decision of the Supreme Court to expand the definition of "marriage" in the United States to include same-sex relationships, the Mormon Church's history with polygamy and the Manifesto has been on my mind. The argument that the government will never interfere with a religious institution's right to follow the dictates of its own conscience forgets the fact that Congress established the precedence of doing just that with the Edmunds-Tucker Act and the near dissolution of the LDS Church in the late 1800's. The issue revolved entirely around a church's choice to practice a style of marriage based on principles that were inharmonious with majority opinion. The Church had made claims for decades that polygamy was a central practice and doctrine of the religion. The appeal to religious belief didn't stop Congress from passing the Edmunds-Tucker Act, which (among other things) disincorporated the LDS Church, putting control of Church assets in the hands of the government. In 1890, the Supreme Court upheld the government's right to do so. The only thing that saved the Church was the Manifesto and the abandonment of the practice of polygamy entirely.
This story highlights something that every American should be aware of. This goes further than the freedom of religion or discrimination, and it strikes at the very heart of what liberty really is.
The question of
the government trying to regulate the affairs of American churches isn't
a matter of "if", but of "when". Appeals to First Amendment protections
for freedom of speech and religion matter little. When the spirit of
liberty dies among the people, those protections become nothing more
than empty words on a dead document, and their meanings become malleable
and disposable. The spirit of liberty is almost entirely dead in
America. The Constitution and Bill of Rights was drafted in a philisophical milieu that accepted, as a rule, that Nature's God existed, and that governments ought to have limited powers to avoid tyranny of the state. Now, the cultural milieu denies or ignores the existence of God, and believes that governments ought to have ever-expanding power so as to be able to forcibly prevent the tyranny of the majority. Instead of governing ourselves, Americans now want others to govern them, tell them what is right and wrong, and make them be good. This shift has been dramatic, and the essential rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights have been almost entirely lost in the transition. It won't take much more time or cultural drift for the loss to be complete.
Political and social liberty is predicated upon the freedom of thought and the expression of that thought. Strict conformism is arguably the fastest way to destroy the liberty of a free nation before the citizens realize that it's happening. And the easiest way to create an atmosphere of strict conformity is to turn the leading social issues of the day into moral issues, make those moral issues black and white, and then label everyone on the undesirable side of the debate as immoral bigots. This exact pattern has happened with the same-sex marriage debate. This is how you manually move the Overton Window in a predetermined direction.
The meteoric rise of the popularity of
same-sex marriage attests to the fact that, through various means of
social control and influence, a cabal of socially and financially elite
members of society can forcibly change public opinion. Our society is
both more connected to each other and more disconnected from reality
than ever before. The rise of social media has made it easy to
constantly exchange opinions and rhetoric, but the materialistic ease in
which we now live (thanks to America's wealth and technological
advancement) has served to disconnect us from Nature's God and our own
human nature. In the vacuum created by the lack of a healthy
relationship with the Creator of the universe and ourselves, false and
vain ideologies have sprung up and become massively popular. These ideologies seek to establish a worldview devoid of any need for a relationship to the Deity, substitutes agnostic pseudo-inquiry for knowledge, and denies critical portions of the truth. Instead of seeking for the truth, they seek to establish an agenda.
society is no longer a paper tiger; it is a china tiger above which
hangs a monstrous steel sword of judgment. At this point, America has so many black marks on its record (the oppression of the Native Americans and blacks, the economic inequality that continues to worsen, the meddling in foreign affairs with the sole purpose of advancing America's selfish agenda, among other things) that the question isn't "what can we do that's so bad that we tip the scales of justice against us"; the question is, "what will be the straw that breaks the camel's back and brings the fiery wrath of a just God down on our heads". I don't think that gay marriage is it. The ramifications of the decision drawn out over time, however, could be. If the end result is setting a precedent that the all-powerful State can dictate the acceptable boundaries of religious thought and practice, it definitely will be.
There's a reason that freedom of thought is inseparably tied to freedom of religion. When you control religious thought, you control the acceptable bounds of cosmological theory. When you control cosmological theory, you control the practical application of that theory. When you control the practical application of cosmological theory, you control the minds and hearts of the people. When this happens, the people are no longer free, but slaves--slaves to a very real, very powerful elite group who glut themselves on the labor of the peons below them.
The recent Supreme Court ruling is another step down the nigh-inevitable trail from freedom to tyranny. I pray that somehow America reverses its course before we reach that point.