A Tear in our Culture
French Catholic group Civitas marched against gay marriage
How do we mend the tear in our culture? On one side we have a growing number of atheists who refuse to acknowledge where they come from. On the other we see a small, but perhaps growing number of believers who appear ignorant of the tradition of Western secularism.
The former refuse to give any credit to the culture which produced them while the latter are developing an incomprehension of a settlement that had been understood. In France huge crowds, encouraged by the Catholic Church, marched against the state allowing civil marriage for gays.
I understand the religious trying to stop whatever they want in their own churches.But how to explain this great confusion over the Church-state relationship in one of Europe's most rigorously secular countries?
Worryingly, opposition to gay marriage in France briefly united French conservative Catholic leaders with Muslim leaders. I have noticed this temptation before and always wondered who could be next on the list of moral fury once that one was expended. Might common cause be found with Islamic leaders over certain issues to do with women? And how long before such an "orthodox" alliance turned on the Orthodox Jews in their midst?
In such small things we see a disturbing possible wrong direction. Rather than seeking to form an alliance of 18th-century revanchists it seems to me that the churches should be in dialogue with the people they have produced. It might require a trust and humility currently absent on all sides, but we could start simply by encouraging the non-religious to accept their origins and the religious to accept their present.
Besides, I have always held that everything to do with "interfaith dialogue" (beyond simply meeting and being nice to each other) should be regarded with intense suspicion.
In my legally productive career (productive, that is, for the legal profession) I have never had a complaint from a radical Islamist who did not, by way of character reference, cite a whole cast of rabbis and vicars available to attest to their "inter-faith dialogue" work.
I recently had a discussion with a vicar who was unaware that one of his sweet interfaith interlocutors had just been convicted for his participation in the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh.