Thursday, January 3, 2013

Will 2013 be the year the culture wars heat up?

Here's an interesting blog by Jonathan Last from the Weekly Standard on 2013 and the continuation or heightening of the ongoing culture wars.  While lots of folks wish they would go away, they won't.  They won't because the issues go to the heart of who we are as a society and a people.  Abortion and marriage, the two hottest issues, deal with core issues of life and death and the most intimate of relationships, e.g. mothers, fathers and children.  While some argue these are only private issues they are anything but exclusively, private, personal issues.

As Last points out:
That said, I suspect we may be in for some very big, very consequential political conflicts in 2013. And my guess is that they're likely to center on the culture wars that everyone has spent the last four years pretending were over.

In the next year we're going to have two enormously important court fights. The first involves the series of lawsuits that have been filed against the Obama administration’s HHS mandate forcing religious institutions to provide insurance covering contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations. Those suits are winding their way through the courts right now. Some will likely be dismissed by lower courts. Others have legitimate shots at making it before the Supreme Court. My guess is that eventually, one of them will. When that happens, it will be like the Obamacare decision all over again, and it will crystallize for the public what the administration’s real-world attitude towards religious freedom is. And win or lose, I suspect the outcome will galvanize both churchgoers and the technocratic secularists who are bent on frog-marching religion out of the public square.

(A brief aside: I think it would have been highly instructive if some religious institution—let's say Notre Dame, just for giggles—decided that, instead of filing suit against the HHS mandate, they would simply refuse to comply. That sort of civil disobedience would have unmasked the Obama administration in very short order.)

The other big conflict to watch for in 2013 is gay marriage. The Supreme Court will decide two cases involving the issue (USA v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry). And like the HHS mandate, the gay marriage decisions point the way toward all sorts of cultural conflict. But the one that intrigues me most is that, again, like the HHS mandate, the endgame of gay marriage will be questions of religious freedom. Despite what some reporters claim, the academic wing of the gay marriage operation is already discussing how religious institutions will eventually have to be compelled to recognize same-sex marriages. And once more, like the HHS mandate, irrespective of the outcome of the Supreme Court cases, both sides are likely to be mobilized and energized.

I'm sure 2013 will give us plenty of other fireworks—both of the unknown and "known unknown" variety. But I won't be surprised if twelve months from now we look back on it as the year the culture wars reignited.

No comments: