Here's a fun little parody article: Supreme Court Rules JC Penney Allowed To Sacrifice Employees To Cthulhu. Except it's not a funny joke to Christians, obviously. It suggests to us that our legal rights are secondary to having correct or approved beliefs.
Above is a quote from Jon Stewart, shown busily pretending that the Supreme Court confirmed Hobby Lobby's right to religious exercise only because Hobby Lobby's owners are sincere in their Christian religion. If that were true, it would of course be mock-worthy. But I don't want to talk about that part of the quote. At least, not yet. I want to talk about the "ill-informed...factually incorrect" part, and the "must be upheld" bit.
This sort of thinking is very common, and almost inevitable in our ghettoized intellectual atmosphere. Whole segments of our population have been convinced that Christians are stupid, and if not stupid, then at best foolish. My Christian readers will have surely experienced this many times, as I have. It manifests itself in different ways. Like the surprise elicited when professional equals discover that my dad, who holds a doctorate from MIT, is a Christian. Like the women who assume that my wife is stupid because she chooses to submit to me in our marriage (the people who view it as a sexual kink are easier to get along with). I can't tell you how many times I've seen that look in people's eyes as they try to fit two obviously contradictory facts about me together..."you're a Christian...but you're smart..."
I experienced a bit of that this very week. I'll relate the story not because it's the biggest or worst, but because it just happened, and illustrates perfectly the casual dismissiveness toward Christianity of so many people. A co-worker and I were joking as we left work, blessing each other with the words "be warm and be filled". The biblically literate will recognize that phrase as being from James, "If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." This co-worker and I were just being silly with each other, sharing a little jollity by pretending to not actually like each other. "Be warm and be filled, you jerk."
Another co-worker overheard us. He shook his head, and I could hear him angrily muttering to himself as he continued his work across the room. I saw what had happened and went over to him to explain the context of the words. He was interested and relieved to learn that "be warm and be filled" was not actually a real Christian blessing, but an example of a worthless words.
His actions were significant, and illustrative of how modern pagans engage with Christianity today. Someone who didn't think Christianity was intellectually ridiculous and Christians fools would have asked the meaning of what we were saying. "Dude, that doesn't make sense...", they would have said. Instead, he took the time to get emotionally involved, but didn't get intellectually involved. Nonetheless, because emotions were in play, he was in play. If I had said nothing he would have left that night reinforcing his view that Christians are morons. Evil morons, really.
There is no more intellectual honesty when it comes to Christianity, because there is no more intellectual engagement. We live in a world in which wrong has been equated with stupid. That is dangerous. Ideas should be engaged with on their own terms. The fact that Hobby Lobby's owners don't believe in evolution shouldn't change their legal standing, or invalidate their arguments about conception or birth control. It should have no bearing whatsoever on the debate over whether employers should be made to pay for health care.
The sinister aspect of Jon Stewart's reaction to the Hobby Lobby judgement is the same that makes our larger cultural setting such a hostile place to be a Christian. The suggestion is made all the time, and is made in the Stewart quote, that being wrong is immoral, and that wrongness must be suppressed. Rights taken away, privileges revoked, freedoms curtailed. Because the beliefs are "factually incorrect".
Look, I'm not inclined to take anyone who's into ancient aliens seriously. And I don't think I could be friends with him. But I could certainly be friendly. And if he told me he shouldn't have to pay taxes, or should be able to be a nudist, I would engage with his arguments on the level they were made on. I can't say to my ancient aliens friend that nudism is stupid because you're stupid enough to believe in ancient aliens.
What makes something factually correct or incorrect in this American-Western world? Not God, obviously. Not philosophy or ethics. Not even knowledge or experience. No, "science" decides the facts. Science, not knowledge or experience, mind you. Because this is science as religion. Science as establishment.
Really, we're talking about majority opinion. Or better, majority fact. Science as people attempt to use the word is barely a thing, but I will make the attempt. "Science" has progressed, regressed, and adapted through the years. When someone like Stewart says that something is factually incorrect, he ultimately means that it goes against majority opinion. Or at least, majority opinion in his ghetto.
The men who work on faster-than-light travel will be mocked until they crack it. The men who revolutionize teleportation when they realize they no longer have to de- and re-assemble objects in our world, but can shift them whole through other dimensions will have been mocked by their peers until they actually achieve it. And of course, none of those men will be recognizable as American secularists when their time comes. Will Science even be their god? Or will they have moved on to others? To One Triune?
Why am I talking about all this? Because I want non-Christians to be nicer to us? P'shaw. It's because I want Christians to reexamine how they engage with the culture, and what sort of approval they're looking for.
Part 2 of this post will address how we ought to speak to the likes of Jon Stewart, and what our place in culture ought to be. Meanwhile, this:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 1:18-31