According to Aaron M. Renn’s analysis of contemporary evangelicalism as he reported in “The Three Worlds of Evangelicalism,” there have been three distinct stages in the secularization of American culture. Views on Christianity and, I believe, religion in general have followed the culture.
- Positive World View of devout religionists (Pre-1994): Society at large retained a mostly positive view of Christianity. Publicly being a Christian was a status-enhancer both for business and political aspirations. Christian moral norms were the basic moral norms of society and violating them resulted in negative consequences.
- Neutral World View (1994–2014): In the late 1990s, society began to take a neutral stance toward Christianity. Being a good, church-going person no longer held privileged status, but it was not particularly disfavored. Being known as a Christian had neither a positive nor a negative impact on one’s social or political status. Christian moral norms retained some residual effect, but were considered along side of other moral norms for other religions and atheists.
- Negative World View (2014–Present): However, by 2014 American society developed a negative view of Christianity. Being known as a Christian has now become a social negative across large swaths of the country, particularly in the elite domains of society. Christian morality is expressly repudiated in main stream media, in universities and across almost all grades of education. A Christian is seen as bigoted, closed-minded and a threat to the public good and the new public moral order. Subscribing to Christian moral views or repudiating the secular moral order can have significant negative consequences, from job loss, dis-invitation to speaking venues, failure to get elected or even subjected to vandalism or attack without consequences for the perpetrator, similar to what happened to Jews in Germany just prior to WW2.
So now we are on the cusp of such severe negative views of Christianity that it is being targeted by government agencies for identification as to who claims exemption from government mandates based on religious convictions. While this discrimination may apply to many religious views, Christianity is being carved out as a special case of resistance to ‘normal moral orders.’
And So It Begins: Guest blog by Sarah Parshall Perry & GianCarlo Canaparo
@SarahPPerry / @GCanaparo / January 11, 2022
The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia announced a new records system that will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”
A tiny administrative agency in the District of Columbia announced a new policy Tuesday that will likely serve as a model for a whole-of-government push to assemble lists of Americans who object on religious grounds to a Covid-19 vaccine.
The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia — a federal independent entity that assists officers in the District of Columbia courts in formulating release recommendations and providing supervision and services to defendants awaiting trial — announced a new records system that will store the names and “personal religious information” of all employees who make “religious accommodation requests for religious exception from the federally mandated vaccination requirement.”
The announcement does not explain why the agency needs to create this list except to say that it will “assist the Agency in the collecting, storing, dissemination, and disposal of employee religious exemption request information collected and maintained by the Agency.” In other words, the list will help the agency make a list.
The announcement also does not say what the agency will do with this information after it has decided an employee’s religious accommodation request. And neither does the announcement explain why the Biden administration chose to test this policy in an agency with a majority-black staff, who are both more religious and less vaccinated than other groups. So much for the president’s commitment to “racial equity.”
We are starting to suspect that President Joe Biden is not keeping his promise to have the most transparent administration in history.
What is really going on with this announcement at this tiny agency? Likely, the Biden administration is using it to stealth test a policy it intends to roll out across the whole government. Almost nobody has ever heard of the Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia, and very few people pay close attention to it or are covered by its policies. Indeed, at of the time of publication of this article, the announcement has been viewed only 16 times.
However, had Biden announced, for example, that the Department of Labor intended to adopt this policy, it would be big news. The Federal Register where announcements like this are made would be flooded with comments that the department would have to address. That would, of course, delay the policy’s rollout. With the Pretrial Services Agency, Biden likely expected that the policy would land quickly and without a splash. As it is, the notice of a new announcement provides less than 30 days for public comment. Biden may not be winning points for transparency, but he is doing his best to win first place in subjecting Americans with sincerely held religious beliefs to differential treatment.
Take the Department of Defense, for example — which has failed to grant a single religious exemption on behalf of any service members requesting one for the federal vaccine mandate. A group of Navy SEALS was recently successful in its federal lawsuit against the Biden administration on claims that its conscience rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act were violated.
From the outset of his administration, Biden voiced support for passage of the patently faith-hostile Equality Act — a bill that would gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act entirely when it intersects with LGBTQ+ protections and entitlements in public accommodations.
The president also swiftly revoked the Mexico City policy that had been reinstated by former President Donald Trump, thereby ensuring that religious Americans would be forced to fund abortions overseas by way of their tax dollars, despite their religious objections to the act.
While employers, employment agencies, or unions with 100 employees or more are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from engaging in disparate treatment and from maintaining policies or practices that result in unjustified disparate impact based on religion, this administration does not seem to have received the memo.
That, at the bottom, is what this policy is about.
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Sarah Parshall Perry and GianCarlo Canaparo are legal fellows in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.
An update on January 15 revealed that 18 other agencies in the US government are also tracking people who maintain religious objections to covid vaccinations. These include the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of the Treasury, to name only a few.