The Neutrality Fallacy
The concept of neutrality within a given political order is flawed because every state is influenced by a particular moral framework.
Many believe that the separation of church and state is a crucial principle ensuring religious freedom and impartiality in government institutions. However, upon closer examination, one begins to question the prevailing notion that the separation of church and state is an unequivocal reality. In fact, given the religious characteristics of modern, “secular” worldviews, we can clearly see that the concept of “neutrality” is a myth.
This lack of neutrality is especially noticeable during June, when both government and corporations openly endorse the ever-expanding “Pride” movement. Examples of this include Joe Biden elevating the Progress Flag over our national flag at the White House, the projection of rainbow colors on official government buildings, hosting family pride events at federally funded organizations, and, in a clear message to the Catholic Church, displaying the Progress Flag at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. When looked at in totality, it is clear that we are facing a new state-endorsed religion.
Within this framework, many public and private companies, as well as school systems nationwide, have adopted policies that promote deeply ideological concepts such as “Critical Race Theory,” “gender ideology,” “environmental, social, and governance,” “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” and “social and emotional learning.” While some genuinely believe in promoting these concepts, others surely fear negative consequences for not implementing them, such as legal action, public criticism, or a lower ranking on the Corporate Equality Index.
Although conservatives acknowledge the harmful effects of "woke" ideology on society, many are still reluctant to promote an alternative worldview. Instead of confronting morally corrupt ideas, conservatives have historically advocated for fostering a culture of neutrality or relying on “winning the argument” within the “marketplace of ideas.” This is a losing strategy, and more importantly, how is any of this “neutral?”
So where can we go from here? The answer does not lie in conservatives’ misguided tendency to appeal to the tenets of “classical liberalism.” Founding fathers like John Adams recognized that “our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” anything short of that standard and the project of self-governance falls apart. To revive and reshape American politics, the right must actively promote and safeguard their own moral values. This can be accomplished by promoting a more assertive form of conservatism that challenges and confronts our progressive culture head-on. Contrary to recent conservative (i.e., libertarian) thinking, politics can and should influence culture, and as such, the government needs to play a role in advancing the common good.
Fortunately, Republican-controlled states around the country are finally waking up to this idea by becoming “laboratories of postliberalism.” Florida is one of several states that have taken steps to push back on “woke ideology” in schools, passing the Parental Rights in Education Act prohibiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, which led to its ongoing war with Disney.
The Florida Board of Education then voted to expand these restrictions. Florida also passed the “Individual Freedom” bill, which bans educators from teaching students critical race theory. Such bills are vital to reversing the liberal ideology that has taken place within government school systems across the country. On the transgender front, many states have banned or restricted “gender-affirming care” for minors, a euphemistic term for irreversible puberty blockers and life-altering surgeries. These are clear examples of how legislation can not only protect children but advance a competing moral vision.
It is also within the government's jurisdiction to determine what is considered “obscene” in our society, as the First Amendment does not protect obscenity. The problem lies in the fact that obscenity laws are often subject to local “community standards,” which makes them difficult to enforce, especially with the advent of the internet. This is most evident in the case of online pornography. The United States Supreme Court uses the Miller test to determine if speech or expression is considered obscene, and pornography unequivocally fails this test since it caters to prurient interests, is highly offensive, and lacks literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
In fact, many states have declared pornography to be a public health crisis. Unfortunately, despite its controversial nature, pornography is still protected by the First Amendment as a form of speech. This idea would have been contradictory to the beliefs of the founding fathers, who recognized limitations on speech that could harm public health or the moral fabric of society. Fortunately, states such as Utah, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas have taken the initiative and passed age verification laws in order to protect children from exposure to sexually explicit content. It is essential that similar laws are extended to encompass every conservative state across the nation.
Moving from the temporal to the spiritual realm, it is crucial to reintegrate Christian virtues into educational settings. Opponents of public displays of Christianity often refer to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from establishing a religion. However, it's important to remember that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment also exists to protect people’s right to practice their religion as they see fit.
This conflict was front and center in 2022 when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Washington State high school football coach who argued that his religious rights were violated because his employer, a public school, sought to limit his practice of silently praying in the middle of the football field immediately after games. In a 6-3 ruling, the court’s conservative supermajority said Kennedy’s prayers were protected by the First Amendment, rejecting the district’s contention that allowing the prayers amounted to an official endorsement of religion. This victory has led to states passing legislation that would bring prayer, and even the Ten Commandments, back into the classroom. To tackle the issue of wokeism infiltrating the American school system, the tenets of Christianity will need to play a role by providing a competing moral vision.
Lastly, “blue” or Sunday laws were established to set rules and restrictions on particular activities on designated days, mainly Sundays. These laws were based on religious convictions and aimed to promote religious observance, morality, and the importance of the Sabbath. Additionally, they aimed to steer society away from excessive consumerism, enabling individuals to spend more quality time with their loved ones, engage in leisure activities, and participate in community events. Blue laws also positively impacted workers, promoting a healthy work-life balance by guaranteeing at least one day off.
Given today’s always-connected work culture, online shopping, and the addictive and narcissistic nature of social media, localities should reinstate blue laws wherever possible and perhaps even find a way to expand them into online areas like social media. The benefits of having both physical and digital breaks would allow, for at least a day, the opportunity to reorient the human soul.
The concept of neutrality within a given political order is flawed because every decision or action taken by a state is influenced by a particular moral framework or understanding of what is best for society. As such, it is insufficient for the right to merely oppose the existing state of affairs through rhetoric; they must present their own vision and demonstrate the resolve to implement conservative policies across all aspects of American society. Unfortunately, our society has drifted so far away from a basic understanding of morality and the common good that any attempt to restrict individual choice is viewed as authoritarian, especially when it involves using the law positively to promote a moral vision.
But is the law not designed to educate and correct for the common good? Morality has always been encouraged and, in some instances, imposed on societies through customs and laws, shaping their culture. The truth is that the morality we have inherited, and are in the process of losing, has been a part of the American tradition since its inception and is directly linked to Christianity. Without its continued influence, we are left with the question of whose morals we should follow and what they should be based on. Christianity, and the way it orients culture away from the city of man and more towards the City of God, provides a clear way forward.
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