Thursday 21st September 2017

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Transgenders In The Military

August 16, 2017 Frontpage No Comments

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

Here we go again: Seemingly rational and good people are rushing to the microphones to say things they would have thought preposterous just ten years ago. President Trump’s order to prohibit transgendered people from serving in the military set them off. It could have been a Saturday Night Live skit, with characters representing conservative members of Congress falling all over themselves to protect the right of someone like Caitlin Jenner to live in the barracks.
The media sought out military veterans among members of Congress to highlight the case: John McCain said it was an “insult to these patriotic individuals who only want to serve their country”; Joni Ernst, the Republican senator from Iowa, protested that “anyone who can fulfill the physical requirements deserves the right to serve.”
You can see why politicians take these positions. They feel trapped, thinking that to argue otherwise would force them to make the case that our society holds it abnormal, unnatural, immoral, aberrant, deviant, or some combination thereof, for a man or woman to disfigure their bodies by giving them the characteristics of the opposite sex, as all the world’s major religions instructed us until very recently, including mainstream Christian groups.
Which is, of course, the problem for people like McCain and Ernst. They are willing to say things about LGBT issues that they would have thought preposterous just a few years ago, rather than challenge the new understanding of the separation of church and state that prevails in politically correct circles.
But aren’t they correct? Our military cannot impose Christian standards about right and wrong upon its members…right? Wrong. This timid bowing by Christians to the secular left’s interpretation of the First Amendment and the separation of church and state is unnecessary; it has no historical roots.
Look: If you think it would be good for the country to permit transgendered people to serve in the military, that it will not impair unit cohesion or readiness, fine. Argue the case. The military may be able to deal with the presence of a number of transgendered individuals within the ranks. But it does not violate the Constitution to argue that societal moral norms can be applied in making this decision, even if a Christian understanding of sex is the norm being applied.
A relevant comparison: How would you feel if one of your children or grandchildren were required to have a transgendered individual as a college roommate? If you are tempted to be open-minded and say yes, think about it for a while. Remember, members of the military are often the same age as college students, and they are required to live in even closer proximity to each other than college students.
Simply put, rooting public policy in Christian beliefs is as American as apple pie. Those roots are where most Americans get their ideas about the brotherhood of man, the worth of the individual, the need to care for the poor and the downtrodden, and equal justice under law.
We should not permit the secular left to rewrite history: The First Amendment did not set up a barrier to prevent Americans from acting upon their deeply held moral beliefs in the public square. The First Amendment states only that there shall be no “establishment of religion” in the United States. All that meant is that there was to be no national church in this country.
The reasoning was obvious: The Founding Fathers did not want the religious strife between Christians of different denominations — such as that which was taking place in Europe at the time — to occur in the newly established United States.
What must be kept in mind is that most of the original 13 states had “established churches,” official churches with positions of privilege in regard to holding office and the lawmaking process of the state. (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Rhode Island were the exceptions.) The Church of England was the established church in New York, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia; the Congregational Church in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The First Amendment’s “no establishment clause” was designed to prevent any one of these Protestant churches from seeking to become the established church for the country as a whole, and avoid the strife that would result from such an attempt.
But the First Amendment did not deny America’s Christians the right to influence laws and public policy. That was understood by everyone. We had “blue laws” that closed down businesses on Sunday when I was a boy. Pornography could be found only “in plain brown wrappers” “under the counter” during those years. Abortion was illegal everywhere until the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
Indeed, many of the Founding Fathers stated explicitly that they hoped that Christians would act energetically to shape public policy.
James Madison wrote, “To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty of happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.”
Benjamin Franklin maintained that “only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
Patrick Henry made the same point: “[B]ad men cannot make good citizens. . . . No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue.”
George Washington wrote, “Virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”
Perhaps John Adams made the point most effectively: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, and revenge would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
The famous Jesuit theologian and political theorist John Courtney Murray put it all in a nutshell in his 1960 book We Hold These Truths: “It is not an American belief that free government is inevitable, only that it is possible, and that its possibility can be realized only when the people as a whole are inwardly governed by the recognized imperatives of the universal moral law.”
The First Amendment forbids us from interfering with our fellow citizens’ free exercise of religion. We are not free to require that they go to Confession or make the stations of the cross. Orthodox Jews are not permitted to demand that the rest of us wear yarmulkes. Fundamentalist Protestants are not free to make laws requiring us all to submit to Baptism by full immersion. Acting in this manner would be a violation of our neighbors’ religious freedom.
But Catholics — and members of other churches and religions — are not violating anyone’s freedom of religion when they enter the political arena to express their views on matters of public policy that affect how our society will be organized, on the rights of the unborn, for example, or on whether our centuries old understanding of marriage will be upheld — or how to deal with transgendered individuals.
It is only by muddying the waters that secularists are able to make this issue unclear. We are entitled to oppose murder, libel, and theft, even though we learned that these things are wrong in the Ten Commandments. We are entitled to support orphanages and food stamps, even though our motivation for doing so is rooted in the Sermon on the Mount.

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