The Declaration of Independence says “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” On the campaign trail in 2020, Joe Biden botched that line, saying, “All men and women created by — you know, you know, the thing.” His omission of God was telling. Unlike the Founding Fathers who spoke openly and often of God, Biden hesitates before mentioning him. In early May, he managed to issue an obligatory proclamation on the National Day of Prayer without referencing God once. He put a political spin on prayer, saying it had “powered moral movements — including essential fights against racial injustice, child labor, and infringement on the rights of disabled Americans.”
For Biden, religion is only useful insofar as it serves as a tribune of liberal propaganda. His secularism seeks to remove religion from politics while inserting politics into religion. Whether talking about prayer or pontiffs, Biden has politics, not religion, on his mind. He often gushes about Pope Francis, but his alliance with him rests not on Catholicism but political liberalism. In a grim irony, the party of John F. Kennedy, who promised never to take political cues from a pope, now slavishly follows one.
Taking religion out of religion and putting politics into it is one of the most corrupting projects of modern liberalism.
John Kerry, Biden’s climate change envoy, used to boast of his secularist commitment to the “separation of church and state.” These days he turns up at the Vatican to marvel at the closeness of church and state. After a recent visit with Pope Francis, he touted the propagandistic value of politicized religion. He urged leaders across the world to listen to the pope on the climate, a matter on which he enjoys no expertise. Kerry, a pro-abortion Catholic, feels no such obligation to listen to the pope on moral and religious issues. Both Kerry and Biden take their politics from the pope and their religion from the secular zeitgeist.
Biden inherited from his predecessors a “faith-based” office. But on what faith is it based? None, it would appear. Biden gave only political reasons for reopening it. He said that it would push the usual left-wing causes, such as fighting “systemic racism” and an “escalating climate crisis.” This month the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships proudly announced that it had held an event for those without faith. “Representatives of atheist and secular groups held their first meeting with White House officials last week, marking a willingness by the Biden administration to work with the growing networks of religiously unaffiliated Americans,” reported the Religion News Service.
Taking religion out of religion and putting politics into it is one of the most corrupting projects of modern liberalism. It seeks not a separation of church and state but a state monopoly over religion — one that coerces the religious into godless acts and simply exploits religion for political purposes. Religious freedom can only survive under a government that takes religion seriously. The Founding Fathers gave primacy to religious freedom because they saw God as the source of rights.
That the Biden administration shrugs at violations of religious freedom at home and abroad stems from its secularism. Notably absent from Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent remarks about religious freedom was any mention of God. He defined it vapidly, as the freedom “to think freely, to follow our conscience, to change our beliefs if our hearts and minds lead us to do so, to express those beliefs in public and in private.” This is the language of the United Nations, not the Founding Fathers. It is no surprise, then, that Blinken is quick to deny that religious freedom deserves the status of a foundational right: “Religious freedom is not more or less important than the freedom to speak and assemble, to participate in the political life of one’s country, to live free from torture or slavery, or any other human right.”
Blinken made these remarks in the context of the State Department’s release of the 2020 International Religious Freedom Report. It is ostensibly a list of religious freedom violations across the world, but the Biden administration made sure to keep Western violations off it. Were those included, Biden’s America would belong on the list, too. His administration is busy in the courts and Congress, trying to force the religious to finance contraceptives and abortifacients, perform transgender surgeries, and give adopted children to the “non-binary.”
To read the State Department report, one would think that the diminution of religious freedom is merely a non-Western problem. But it is not. It is also shriveling under the secularism of Western countries, with Biden leading the way. He never speaks about the limits of government, even as he asserts the limits of religious freedom, saying it is no more “absolute” than any other constitutional right. It is no wonder he forgot Thomas Jefferson’s line about “unalienable” rights from God.
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